Progress on Local Development Plan Changes
The Scottish Government is making progress on its plans to introduce new-style local development plans (LDPs). The Regulations required for these plans are currently being scrutinised by the Scottish Parliament and are due to come into force on 19 May 2023.
Since the Planning (Scotland) Act 2019 was passed there has been a lot of talk about the new style LDPs being of 10 years duration, sitting alongside the new NPF4 and therefore not having to reiterate national planning policies in the way previous plans did.
The lead committee looking at it is the Local Government, Housing and Planning Committee and its report on the Scottish Statutory Instrument (SSI) 2023/101, due on 15 May. The Committee took evidence on 25 April 2023 from the new Minister for Local Government Empowerment and Planning, Joe FitzPatrick MSP and Scottish Government officials. This short session shed a bit of light on what is proposed, what has changed since the consultation on the draft Regulations last year and the likely timescale.
Amendments following the consultation on the draft Regulations and Guidance have mostly been included in the Guidance which is to be published shortly after the Regulations get approved (and during May 2023). However, some of the information and considerations that planners have to take into consideration when preparing an LDP were updated. These included requirements relating to climate change, national and regional marine plans, open space strategies and flood risk management plans.
The Minister said that the new style plan and other changes are to ‘create opportunities for LDPs to refocus on delivering place-based outcomes’ he also emphasised that ‘it is crucial that community involvement is front-loaded – that the community is involved at the earliest opportunity’.
The Committee heard that groups that have to be engaged with during the LDP process are set out in the 2019 including key agencies, children and young people – in particular school pupils, youth councillors and youth parliament representatives, and ‘the public at large’. Planning authorities must also include in the evidence report a statement about how they have engaged with disabled people, Gypsies and Travellers and community councils.
Scottish Government planners said that early and collaborative engagement was needed to inform the level of sufficiency of that evidence – rather than just the more formal consultation of responding to a report. Scottish Government intend to publish ‘fairly shortly’ separate statutory guidance on effective community engagement in development plans
Forthcoming Guidance on LDPs will be a ‘living document’ that can be easily adapted and the Evidence Report stage of the process will be the key to checking it has been done appropriately. The Evidence Report is likened to assembling the baseline information required for preparing an LDP. Templates will be provided in the guidance.
At the Gate-Check the contents of the Evidence Report will be independently assessed by a person appointed by Scottish Ministers (DPEA Reporters) and they could invite further written or oral procedures to assess the information. The Evidence Report has to be deemed sufficient before the planning authority can proceed to produce the Proposed Plan.
The Minister said that he expected Planning Authorities to take around 5 years to develop plans but that this would be phased and not all happening at once and around 6 Authorities are ‘ahead of the game’. These 6 were said to include Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park, Midlothian and Fife.
LDPs already under preparation where the Proposed Plan had already been publicly advertised by 12 February 2023 can proceed under the old system.
More regulations dealing with how LDPs can be amended during the 10-year span are to be drafted soon. This could allow for proposals contained in Local Place Plans that are completed and registered after the LDP is drafted to be taken forward.
This resource provides information on strategic and local planning across Scotland and gives links to the websites containing planning information for particular areas.