1. Section 158A of the 1997 Act requires a planning authority to prepare an enforcement charter. This is a publicly available document setting out how the enforcement system works, in particular, the role of the planning authority and the service standards it sets itself.
What information does the charter provide?
2. The charter consists of a document setting out:
- The planning authority's policies for taking enforcement action
- How members of the public can report ostensible breaches to the planning authority
- How the public can complain to the authority as regards how they take enforcement action
- The complaints procedure.
3. The Scottish Ministers may issue guidance to a planning authority on the form and content of the charter. Currently this is done through a model charter published on the internet on the Scottish Government website. A planning authority must, when preparing its charter, have regard to this guidance as an example of the sort of information the charter should contain. This is not to say that they have to produce an exact copy of the model charter, which should be viewed as a template. Planning authorities are free to adapt the format and the content to suit their own requirements, providing that their charter contains the required information to meet the criteria set out above.
Review of charters
4. A planning authority must keep their charter under review. Charters must be upgraded and re-published at least every two years, possibly more frequently if situations change.
5. Scottish Ministers may also require that a charter be reviewed at any time, for example if they are not satisfied that sufficient regard has been paid to the guidance on content, or if the charter has not been reviewed within the required timescales. Changes to enforcement legislation may also require that charters be updated outside the bi-annual requirement. Ministers may require a single authority to review its charter or, where there are changes to the enforcement system; require all authorities to review charters.
Availability of charters
6. When they publish or re-publish the charter, the planning authority must:
- Send two copies of it to Scottish Ministers
- Place a copy of the charter in each public library in their district
- Publish the charter electronically, for example on the local authority website.
7. Scottish Ministers will, on receipt of their copies, consider whether the charter meets the requirements as to form and content, and determine whether further review is required.