Planning authorities must prepare and publish development plans for their area and provide an opportunity for people to make representations about that plan. If representations are made and raise issues that are not resolved, the planning authority must submit the plan to the Scottish Ministers for examination. Ministers will appoint a reporter to carry out the examination.
The reporter will decide how to conduct the examination and, for each issue, whether he or she requires further information. For most issues, no further information should be required, but if it is, the reporter will decide who will be asked to provide it. Further informatin can be found in development plan examination procedures.
The reporter may decide to hold a hearing to explore the issue further, and will decide who to invite to participate in the dicussion at the hearing. Only exceptionally will an inquiry session be necessary to test the information through cross-examination.
The reporter will submit a report of the examination to the planning authority, containing his or her conclusions and recommendations on each issue. This will also be published online, see the completed examinations page for case references. Any modifications to the plan that are recommended by the reporter are binding on the planning authority except in a limited number of circumstances set out in the Town and Country Planning (grounds for declining to follow recommendations) (Scotland) Regulations 2009.
The statutory basis for the examination is set out in the Town and Country Planning (Scotland) Act 1997 and in the Town and Country Planning (Development Planning) (Scotland) Regulations 2008.
Guidance can be found in the procedures for the examination and in the Planning Series Circular 6/2013: Development Planning. This should be referred to by planning authorities and by those who lodged a representation to a plan which has been submitted for examination.
The DPEA also produce internal guidance notes for reporters on a variety of matters and a couple of these relate specifically to development plan examinations.
Guidance to assist planning authorities with the preparation and handling of information prior to the submission of development plans is set out in Practical Guidance for Planning Authorities.