1. Development is essential if we are to meet our current and future economic, social and environmental needs and aspirations. The planning system guides the future development and use of land - where development should happen, where it should not and how it interacts with its surroundings. Through a plan-led system, succinct and clear development plans set out ambitious, long-term visions for an area. By taking decisions on applications for planning permission, the future development of an area is set out.
2. Scottish Ministers recognise the important role that planning can play in support of the Government's central purpose of increasing sustainable economic growth. Sustainable economic growth means building a dynamic and growing economy, whilst at the same time safeguarding our environment for future generations and ensuring our communities enjoy a better quality of life. Planning can deliver across all the Government's strategic objectives - a Scotland that is: wealthier and fairer; healthier; safer and stronger; smarter; and greener.
3. Ministers are looking to create a planning system that is effective and efficient, while recognising the important role that communities have in the decision making process. Successful operation of the planning system will only be achieved if those involved: planning authorities, agencies and consultees, applicants, communities, representative organisations, public bodies, the Government and the general public, commit themselves to engaging as constructively as possible in the process.
4. The Planning etc (Scotland) Act 2006 and associated secondary legislation provide enhanced opportunities for people to get involved in the planning system. The Government's policy on community engagement is set out in Scottish Planning Policy ( SPP) and in relevant Planning Circulars such as Circulars 1/2009: Development Planning and 4/2009: Development Management Procedures. This PAN provides advice to communities on how they can get involved and advice to planning authorities and developers on ways of effectively engaging with communities on planning matters.
5. The PAN also links directly with the National Standards for Community Engagement. The Standards set out best practice principles for the way that councils and other public bodies should engage with communities and are supported by VOiCE - Visioning Outcomes in Community Engagement - a database tool developed to help plan, record and monitor community engagement activity. Tools such as Planning Aid for Scotland's SP=EED (Scottish Planning equals Effective Engagement and Delivery) have also been developed to help share good practice in engagement and ensure community consultation can become meaningful for everyone involved. (see text box by paragraph 64 for further information).
6. Some examples of community engagement are to be found on the Government's webpages ( www.scotland.gov.uk). These examples are intended to provide a useful indication of the techniques that have been used at various stages of the planning process. Their inclusion on the website is not a formal endorsement of the approach taken.