Local place plans: literature review and final report

Literature review and research report on community-led planning in Scotland, providing the evidence for the development of a draft ‘how to’ guide for the preparation of community-led local place plans.

5. Conclusions

5.1 Introduction

The Scottish Government will be consulting on the detailed arrangements for introducing Local Place Plans into the Scottish planning system and all planning stakeholders are being invited to share their views on the Scottish Government's proposals. This section is not intended to pre-empt the consultation outcomes, but contains our key findings and conclusions taken from our research, divided into two sections:

  • Section 5.2 summarises our conclusions on Local Place Plans generally, and is intended to feed into the Scottish Government's ongoing preparation of secondary legislation and guidance, and also into consideration of future resourcing and support for Local Place Plans.
  • Section 5.3 summarises our conclusions specifically in relation to the draft 'How To' Guide for communities.

5.2 Local Place Plans

It is clear from the research consultations that Local Place Plans are a major opportunity to advance a number of important government agendas, including:

  • To deliver national strategic policy objectives (e.g. zero carbon, health and wellbeing, homes, fairness, inclusive growth) at the local level (through actions such as local food growing, easier walking and cycling, and access to housing, greenspace, jobs and so on).
  • To support planning reform[20] and implementation of the Planning (Scotland) Act 2019, including steps to reduce conflict, improve community engagement and build public trust in planning matters.
  • To support delivery of the community empowerment agenda at the local level.
  • To build more trusting relationships between communities and local government, which is such an important element of delivering effective local governance.
  • To provide intelligence from local communities to inform future public services, investment and policy making.
  • To provide an opportunity for government to communicate its priorities, objectives and constraints, and collaborate with communities on their delivery locally.

Bearing these opportunities in mind, our conclusions relating to secondary legislation, guidance and resourcing cover five areas:

A.Defining characteristics of Local Place Plans

Building on the definition of Local Place Plans in primary legislation, we suggest that the eight defining characteristics of Local Place Plans identified in Section 1 of the draft Guide should be incorporated into formal guidance:

1. Local Place Plans must, if they are to be registered by your local authority, comply with legal requirements.

2. Local Place Plans must belong to the local community. Aspirations, priorities and projects should emerge from and be co-designed with the local community, through inclusive and robust community engagement and development.

3. As proposals for the development and use of land, Local Place Plans should express a clear vision for the future, including a spatial map, and key actions to deliver that future vision.

4. Local Place Plans may contain a variety of proposals, from physical proposals like improvements to community facilities, new homes, and better streets and public spaces; to less tangible proposals like action to support mental and physical health, economic opportunity or community activities.

5. Local Place Plans should be solutions-focused. Actions should be as specific as possible. For example, if a local community aspires to have more homes or jobs, the Local Place Plan should specify what kinds of homes and where they should go, or what type of jobs or enterprise and where.

6. Proposals contained in Local Place Plans should be realistic and deliverable. Some may be quick wins that can be completed in a few months, others might take a lot more planning and many years to deliver.

7. Local Place Plans are tools to support community empowerment, to shape future land use planning policy, to influence public service delivery, and to tackle strategic agendas such as the climate emergency, health and wellbeing, inequalities and economic opportunity.

8. Where possible, Local Place Plan boundaries should reflect local community boundaries.

B.Targeted resourcing to support established priorities

In the Guide we have highlighted how Local Place Plans can be prepared with minimal resource cost and stressed the importance of quick wins which can be implemented with a small amount of resource. However, there have long been serious concerns amongst communities and local authorities, who are anticipated as being the primary partners in Local Place Planning, about the availability of sufficient resources to undertake Local Place Plans effectively and in response to potential demand. To address these concerns positively we make the following suggestions, based on the research findings:

9. Resourcing should include resources not only for preparation of Local Place Plans, but also for their delivery. Ensuring that resources are available for delivery need not always require new resources being made available, but could be achieved by aligning existing national and local government resources to deliver Local Place Plan outputs.

10. Available resources should be targeted to those communities where Local Place Planning will make the greatest contribution to tackling fairness and inequality, identified through the Local Outcome Improvements Plans and Locality Plans produced by each Community Planning Partnership.

11. Where such communities need support or additional capacity to prepare Local Place Plans, capacity-building support could be provided by the local authority or other agencies to help them to 'get ready' to prepare and deliver Local Place Plans.

12. The primary recipients of resources for Local Place Planning should be local communities, because preparation of Local Place Plans will be their responsibility should they wish to take it on. Resources will also be required by others to support community-led activity, particularly local authorities as the main collaborative partner.

C.Registration of Local Place Plans

The registration process for Local Place Plans should not undermine the basic concept that Local Place Plans must belong to the local community. To ensure that this is the case, we suggest that guidance to local authorities covers the following issues:

13. Registration should be a positive and light-touch process which is intended to proactively support communities to produce Local Place Plans, rather than being conceived as a regulatory process in which local authorities "judge" the content of Local Place Plans.

14. Procedural requirements should be set to an absolute minimum and should be framed nationally to avoid unhelpful discrepancies between local authorities. The content of the draft Guide should be the starting point for defining what those minimum requirements are, and those requirements should be co-designed as explained in recommendation 20.

15. Existing community-led action plans should be able to be registered as Local Place Plans where they accord with the defining characteristics of Local Place Plans.

D. Local authority collaboration in preparation and delivery of Local Place Plans

Local authorities have a number of critical roles in supporting preparation and delivery of Local Place Plans. This has been reflected to us by people in planning roles as well as community development and community capacity building. Secondary legislation and/or guidance could usefully lay out those roles, including:

16. The distinct roles of officers in land-use planning, community planning (or Community Learning and Development) and other departments in supporting communities to get ready, develop, present and deliver Local Place Plans (the four sections of the draft Guide) should be made clear. These roles are laid out in Section 1 of the draft Guide.

17. The ways in which Local Place Planning will feed into planning policy and other public services should be clearly explained, using the many examples of good practice that already exist in local authorities around the country. For example, secondary legislation and/or guidance should explain that the intelligence gained from community engagement on Local Place Plans can be a vital input to preparation of development planning policy or other planning decisions such as Section 75 'planning gain', as well as the formal input of the completed Local Place Plan.

18. The specific role of Councillors in Local Place Planning should be made clear, taking legislative requirements in the Planning (Scotland) Act 2019, the Councillors' Code of Conduct and the content of the draft Guide (Section 1) as starting points.

19. The registration process for Local Place Plans should be clearly defined (see above).

E.Preparation of draft secondary legislation and guidance

In order to maximise the opportunity presented by Local Place Plans outlined at the start of this section:

20. Secondary legislation and guidance should be co-designed with representatives from communities and local authorities in particular, with the key informants involved in this research being a good starting point.

21. The co-design process should be facilitated to ensure that community interests are placed front and centre of the discussions.

5.3 The draft Guide

Our final suggestions relate to the draft 'How to' Guide itself:

22. The Guide should be published as a standalone website. For the reasons explained in section 4.3, the Guide should be published as a website rather than a report or pdf, with the ability for users to easily print or save all or parts of the Guide. This recommendation was strongly supported by the Reference Group. We believe that there is an opportunity for the website to complement the new suite of websites that the Scottish Government is currently preparing for the Place Principle, Place Standard and Town Centre Toolkit.

23. The online Guide should be conceived as a live resource which is regularly updated as practice develops. There are no Local Place Plans yet: it is therefore vital that the Guide develops rapidly, particularly within the first two years, to incorporate emerging practice and experience. Those updates should include personal experiences of communities involved in Local Place Planning, drawing on the experience identified in Annex A as a starting point. The additions should include video content to add another medium of learning and communication. This suggestion was strongly supported by the Reference Group. We suggest a two year programme of content reviews and updating should be put in place, with content reviews and updates at 12 month intervals.

24. The style of the online Guide should be appropriate for its target community audience and should reinforce the Guide's message that Local Place Planning need not be a daunting, professionally-led or technical exercise. The Reference Group particularly recommended that the graphic style of the Guide should not use graphics which are expensive to produce or 'flashy', but which are simple and low cost. The use of sketches, as in the draft Guide, was particularly recommended.

25. The development of additional resources should be considered. The Reference Group recommended that summary or easy-read versions of the Guide or particular sections - in leaflet or video format - would help community groups to use it and would make the Local Place Planning process less daunting.

26. A communications plan should be put in place to promote the Guide. We would suggest that a 3-6 month promotional plan should be developed to accompany publication of the Guide and promote its benefits. This should encompass social media content, engagement with close contacts and partners, and development of a mailing list.


Email: Chief.Planner@gov.scot

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