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The Local Government and Communities Committee published its report on the Planning (Scotland) Bill and the Stage 1 Debate will follow on 29 May at 2pm. The debate will be broadcast live on the Scottish Parliament website.

Here are some of the key messages we have shared with MSPs in advance of the Stage 1 Debate.

– We welcome the focus of the Bill on achieving earlier and more effective engagement with planning and placemaking.
– We support the Local Government and Communities Committee’s desire to review further how this effective early engagement can be achieved in practice.

Key Recommendations

Statutory purpose for planning: PAS believes that a clear and direct statutory purpose for planning, referencing inclusivity, should be added to the Bill. This will lead to better understanding of why we have a planning system and set a framework for more effective stakeholder engagement.

Gatecheck – a more inclusive process: Clearer and stronger measures are required to make this a consensual and inclusive process. The role of mediation should be considered. The evidence report informing the gatecheck should also cover the effectiveness of community engagement achieved.

Local Place Plans: All communities should have equality of opportunity to prepare Local Place Plans. These must also be prepared with an integrated approach between Spatial Planning and Community Planning. To be influential, a duty to have regard to Local Place Plans (where they exist) should be expressed in Local Development Plan policy.

Young People: A statutory duty to engage with young people in the preparation of Local Development Plans and Local Place Plans should be added to the Bill.

Mediation: A statutory duty for planning authorities to consider use of mediation should be added to the Bill and referred to in Scottish Planning Policy. Mediation could be used as part of the Local Development Plan gatecheck, and in the process of determining contentious planning proposals.

Performance of planning authorities: Quality, level and effectiveness of community engagement should be included as a mandatory performance measure.

Training for taking planning decisions: To ensure robust and high quality decision-making, this training should be mandatory for all elected members within a set timeframe after being elected.