Open Space Strategies and Play Sufficiency Assessments Regulations: consultation

This consultation paper discusses proposed provisions and seeks views on both sets of draft regulations on Open Space Strategies and Play Sufficiency Assessments.


1. Open spaces, green infrastructure and other outdoor places to play are key components in successful placemaking, helping to create pleasant, liveable, healthy and resilient communities. Considering access to quality open space, green infrastructure, and play opportunities as a key part of placemaking can help realise our ambitions for delivering 20 minute neighbourhoods.

2. The new duties on planning authorities[1] to prepare and publish an Open Space Strategy, and to assess the sufficiency of play opportunities in their area for children, were introduced in the Planning (Scotland) Act 2019[2]. It inserted new sections, 3G Open Space Strategy, and 16C Play Sufficiency Assessment into the Town and Country Planning (Scotland) Act 1997[3] ("the Act"). Discharging the requirements under these new duties may also be a useful means for authorities to demonstrate how they are responding to the UNCRC[4] and meeting their duties on Children's Rights.

3. The Act provides details about the purpose of Open Space Strategies (OSS) and Play Sufficiency Assessments (PSA), and gives Scottish Ministers powers to prepare regulations, concerning a range of detailed aspects. This Consultation Paper discusses the proposed provisions for the secondary legislation. The draft Town and Country Planning (Open Space Strategies) (Scotland) Regulations 2022 , and draft Town and Country Planning (Play Sufficiency Assessment) (Scotland) Regulations 2022 (the draft Regulations) are set out at the end of this Consultation Paper.

4. Whilst these are two distinct duties, a holistic and integrated approach has been adopted in preparing the proposed provisions on OSS and PSA. It is widely recognised there are clear links and many overlaps between planning for open spaces and play spaces. Children and young people will play in different types of spaces - not just formal play parks - informal/spontaneous play happens in other types of open spaces, in civic space and in the wider public realm. Existing guidance and data, both Planning Advice Note 65[5] and the Ordnance Survey Greenspace Map[6] already make this link, by including play spaces as a type of open space.

5. This crossover between open space and play provided a strong basis for taking a joint approach in preparing the OSS and PSA draft regulations, and to seek where possible, to align requirements. We hope this aligned approach, will offer efficiency for authorities, in terms of undertaking their audits and assessments of spaces, and in fulfilling their responsibilities in terms of assessing spaces, consulting and publication. Crucially, it should also help to achieve wider benefits from taking a place-based approach when looking at the wider open space resource in an area.

6. There are some legal limits on the scope of what we can, and would want to prescribe in regulations. Therefore, we also intend to bring forward guidance with more details and examples. This Consultation Paper therefore also indicates some of the matters we expect to cover in the guidance.

7. The draft Regulations were prepared in respect of the requirements contained in the Planning Act and do not introduce additional requirements, therefore do not add to the costs previously estimated during the Bill process; ie, at £450,000 respectively across Scotland. RTPI Scotland's Research Paper 'Financial Implications of Implementing The Planning (Scotland) Act 2019' (August 2019) confirmed that assessment in relation to the costs of preparing an Open Space Strategy and Play Sufficiency Assessment. Based on those average estimates:

£450,000 (OSS) + £450,000 ( PSA) = £900,000

÷ 32 planning authorities

÷ 10 (10 year review cycle)

= £2,812.50 per planning authority per annum to cover both new duties

Background on the figures and calculations is provided in the draft Business and Regulatory Impact Assessment (BRIA).

8. In addition to the supporting guidance, we can explore how potential digital tools can support planning authorities in undertaking their new duties.



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