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Local Development Plans – how to have a say in the future of your area

How do you think your local area could be improved? Whether it is more green spaces, cycling infrastructure, social housing, or public transport, in theory getting it into your Local Development Plan (LDP) could be the best way to make it a reality. But what is a local development plan and how can people get involved?

Over the next few years, there is a critical, once in a decade opportunity for you to get involved in shaping your community. LDPs were previously renewed every 5 years, but due to changes made under the Planning (Scotland) Act 2019, local authorities are now required to update them every 10 years. Having a say in your LDP is one of the most important ways to shape your area over the coming decade. This will determine nature recovery, climate adaptation, adequate housing, and community amenities for years to come. 

What is a Development Plan?

The development plan for any area of Scotland includes:

  • The National Planning Framework 4 (NPF4), which is the national spatial strategy for Scotland. It sets out spatial and regional priorities and guides national planning developments and policies. 
  • The Local Development Plan (LDP) for that area. 

LDPs intend to provide a place-based, visual plan with a clear spatial strategy for the area. Each local authority and Scotland’s two national parks are legally required to prepare a local development plan. LDPs guide investment and development in that area for the next 10 years. LDPs are intended to support the use and management of land in the long-term public interest, including what development should and shouldn’t happen. As such, it is important that you have your say in how your LDP is developed and, ultimately, the future of your area.

Together, NPF4 and the Local Development Plan form an area’s development plan. Scotland’s planning system is plan-led, meaning that the starting point for making decisions on planning applications is the area’s development plan before any other consideration. Because of this, influencing your area’s Local Development Plan is the best way to have a say in shaping the future of your area. 

How can you get involved in your Local Development Plan?

NPF4 was adopted in February 2023. Many local authorities have been waiting for the publication of NPF4 to renew their LDPs, and so up to 25 Local Development Plans, covering roughly 80% of the population of Scotland, will be published between now and 2024. Several of these local authorities are in the early stages of engaging the public in developing their LDP. 

There are several stages of possible engagement in LDPs:

  • Through early engagement to gather evidence and get a sense of what the LDP should plan for. At this stage, planning authorities are required to seek the views of people with ‘protected characteristics’ (including disability, race, age, sex, and sexual orientation) as well as people from a range of socio-economic backgrounds, community councils, and key agencies. They may also run general surveys on current local amenities and services.
  • Through a call for ideas, which local authorities are not required to do but may if they wish to further involve the public. Here the public can submit ideas for ways to use and manage land in their local area. 
  • Local Place Plans present an opportunity for communities to develop proposals for the areas where they live/work. These must be taken into account by planning authorities when preparing the area’s Local Development Plan. However, these can be time and resource intensive to prepare and can only be submitted by community groups. Planning authorities should also provide assistance to groups who decide to prepare a Local Place Plan for their area. More information on Local Place Plans can be found on the Our Place Scotland website.
  • The consultation on the proposed plan is the final stage for engagement. This involves a minimum of a 12-week consultation period and provides an opportunity for communities to respond formally to the content of the plan. The planning authority should inform the groups who as a minimum are required to be consulted that the LDP is open for consultation. These groups include:
    • children and young people and representative organizations – including schools / school pupils, youth councils / councillors, and youth parliament representatives. Although not required by legislation, further and higher education establishments, parents and carers, and families with young children can also be included here;
    • disabled persons;
    • Travelling communities;
    • community councils; and
    • community bodies.

During the consultation on the proposed plan, a copy of the proposed development plan must be made available at 

  • an office of the planning authority;
  • in every public library in the local development plan area; and
  • published on the internet.

More information on getting involved in your Local Development Plan, including opportunities to input into your LDP, can be found here

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