Planning and architecture

Community involvement in the planning process

We want people and communities to actively engage in the planning process and have an influence over the future development of their areas.  We also know that people want to be involved in the decisions that shape the places they live, work and play.

Effective public engagement can lead to better plans, better decisions and more satisfactory outcomes, and it can help to avoid delays in the planning process too. It also improves confidence in the fairness of the planning system. Engagement needs to be meaningful and to occur from the earliest stages in the planning process to enable community views to be reflected in development plans and individual development proposals.

Being involved in planning

There are opportunities built into the planning system to ensure people can get involved and have their say, including when planning authorities are preparing their development plans and also during the development management processes when decisions are being made about proposed developments.

When national and major developments are being proposed, prospective applicants for planning permission must carry out pre-application consultation with local communities before finalising their plans. Communities will be better informed about these development proposals and have an opportunity to contribute their views before a formal planning application is submitted to the planning authority. 

Planning Advice Note 3/2010: Community Engagement explains more and provides advice on community involvement in the planning system.

Planning reform: new opportunities

We are currently  preparing to make important changes to the range of ways people can get involved and influence future development as part of our implementation of the Planning (Scotland) Act 2019.

The changes will include a new opportunity for community bodies to collaborate and produce their own local place plans to express their aspirations for their areas. Local place plans will be taken into account by planning authorities when preparing their local development plans.

There will also be improvements to the arrangements for pre-application consultation with communities and encouragement for the use of mediation in the planning system. We are preparing new guidance on effective community engagement in development planning.

You can find out more about these important reforms of our planning system and keep up-to-date on progress at


We provide grant funding to support the core activities of PAS (formerly known as Planning Aid Scotland). PAS provides independent advice and training on planning and environmental matters and encourages public engagement with the planning process.

Back to top