Local Place Plans
What are Local Place Plans?
Local Place Plans are a new type of plan giving people an opportunity to develop proposals for the development and use of land in the place where they live. It is intended that Local Place Plans will stimulate and encourage debate about the future of a place, enabling communities to focus on their aspirations as well as their needs.
Earlier this year, we ran a survey to gather views on what support communities would like to see, what barriers they believe may prevent them from taking part in a Local Place Plan and how these barriers might be overcome. 350 people responded to the survey. Read about the responses to the survey here.
Each local authority prepares a Local Development Plan to inform planning application decisions, however it might not fully express the detailed needs of any particular community. The idea for Local Place Plans is that they enable a community to prepare a plan focused specifically on their local area, capitalising on local knowledge.
A new Local Development Plan will consider any registered Local Place Plans and this will enable communities to have a more direct role in the decisions that influence their place. A Local Place Plan also provides a framework for communities to take forward community actions themselves.
The technical bit: The Planning (Scotland) Act 2019 states: “A local place plan is a proposal as to the development or use of land. It may also identify land and buildings that the community body considers to be of particular significance to the local area.” (Part 1, Schedule 19). Local Place Plans should have regard to the Local Development Plan for their area, as well as the Scottish Government’s Strategic National Planning Framework which covers the whole of Scotland.
How did Local Place Plans come about?
Local Place Plans represent one further step in a journey that began with the Skeffington Report (1969) and more recently with the recommendations of the Christie Commission (2011). The findings of these reviews indicate the need to improve public participation in planning in order to improve the responsiveness and representativeness of public services and the plan making process.
An independent review of the planning system in Scotland published its recommendations in Empowering Planning to Deliver Great Places (2016), highlighting the need to prioritise community participation, as early as possible in the process, to make it meaningful.
The Scottish Parliament recently passed the Place Principle. The Place Principle promotes a shared understanding of place. It is about more joined-up, collaborative, and participative approach to services, land and buildings, across all sectors within a place, enabling better outcomes for communities to shape their own places and lives.
Local Place Plans are a key way to deliver the Place Principle as well as deliver better outcomes for communities as set out in Local Outcome Improvement Plans. We hope to see Local Place Plans actively intersect with and influence Local Outcome Improvement Plans and promote greater collaboration between communities and service providers.
The technical bit: The Scottish Parliament passed the Planning (Scotland) Bill on 20 June 2019. Having now received Royal Assent, the Planning (Scotland) Act 2019 introduces the concept of Local Place Plans into the planning system in Scotland for the first time.
Who can create a Local Place Plan?
Any community body can prepare and submit a Local Place Plan to their local planning authority. Importantly the plan will be co-produced, with different groups, individuals and age groups getting involved in plan production.
The technical bit: The Act defines a community body as either:
- A community-controlled body, as defined by the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015.
- A Community Council
What will the process of preparing a Local Place Plan involve?
The precise process for preparing a Local Place Plan is yet to be defined. This will be developed through secondary legislation and guidance. Early iterations of a local place plan can be evidenced in locations such as Applecross, Kirkwall, and Udny (community action plan and spatial plan). Renfrewshire Council has also produced a useful guide for communities on how to produce Local Place Plans which you can find here.
As we understand it, community bodies will be able to produce a Local Place Plan at any point, however there is a duty on planning authorities to publish an invitation to local communities to prepare local place plans before the planning authority prepares its Local Development Plan. In this way Local Place Plans can actively influence Local Development Plans.
When producing the plan the responsible community group will need to follow any prescribed requirements or guidance that may be set out in their local authority area (e.g. on being inclusive when engaging the local community, involving local councillors etc.).
In our experience, the process of preparing a Local Place Plan looks like the diagram on the right.
In keeping with the focus of the Planning (Scotland) Act 2019 on inclusive and meaningful participation, Local Place Plans should seek to involve the whole community, including voices that are seldom-heard in the planning system, such as children and young people or Gypsy/Travellers.
The community body will then submit the Local Place Plan to their local planning authority. The planning authority will register the plan and inform the community body that this has taken place. Should the authority choose not register the plan it must give its reasons to the community body. Every planning authority must make public a map showing all the land relating to registered Local Place Plans.
Who can get involved in developing a Local Place Plan?
Individuals – Local Place Plans may only be prepared and submitted by community bodies. Therefore, as an individual, you may wish to contact community groups within your local area to find out if any have the intention of preparing a Local Place Plan, or you may wish to lead calls for a Local Place Plan in your area and drum up support. You could also speak to your local planning authority to find out if any groups in your local area have expressed an interest in or are actively involved in preparing a Local Place Plan.
Community groups – Community groups will play the lead role in preparing Local Place Plans. As a community group you may want to find out if any other local groups have expressed an interest in or intend preparing a Local Place Plan. Your local planning authority will likely be able to assist.
Local Authorities – It will be the role of planning authorities to register Local Place Plans. It is therefore important that planning authorities have early dialogue with community groups intending to prepare Local Place Plans. Other services within local government including, importantly, Community Planning Partnerships, will see Local Place Plans as an opportunity to realise community aspirations through community planning. In this way Local Place Plans create the opportunity to join up service delivery across local authorities.
Public bodies and key agencies – Other public bodies will find it useful to check the Local Place Plan registers and maps created by planning authorities to see where Local Place Plans are emerging, and to potentially assist the community in the process of preparing their plan.
Developers and landowners – Developers and landowners will find it useful to check the Local Place Plan registers and maps created by planning authorities to see where Local Place Plans are emerging. Given the close relationship between Local Place Plans and Local Development Plans, developers and landowners will need to have regard to Local Place Plans when preparing their planning applications. They usefully give an early indication of community views about an area which can help shape a planning application engagement strategy.
When will Local Place Plans come into force?
The Bill received Royal Assent in July 2019 and has now entered into law as the Planning (Scotland) Act 2019. Further detailed requirements will be set out in regulations as part of secondary legislation. Specific guidance will also be provided on implementing Local Place Plans.
How can PAS help with preparing a Local Place Plan?
Once Local Place Plans become law, PAS will launch a free Local Place Plan advice service to help community groups know more about Local Place Plans and how to go about producing one. This will provide online and telephone advice. PAS can also help you prepare your Local Place Plan, by providing neutral facilitation and other services (subject to funding availability).
Meanwhile, you may find it useful to look at early approaches to Local Place Plans from PAS community projects in Applecross, Kirkwall, and Udny (community action plan and spatial plan). Renfrewshire Council has also produced a useful guide for communities on how to produce Local Place Plans which you can find here.
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