Publication - Consultation analysis

Local Place Plans - proposals for regulations: consultation analysis

Published: 30 Sep 2021

Independent analysis of responses to the public consultation on proposals for regulations for the preparation, submission and registration of Local Place Plans.

Local Place Plans - proposals for regulations: consultation analysis
8. Register and map of Local Place Plans

8. Register and map of Local Place Plans

The manner a register must be kept and made available

8.1 The consultation paper notes that planning authorities have experience of maintaining a planning register for development management purposes. The Development Management Regulations require that the register for a planning authority's district is to be kept at the office of the planning authority. Where the register is kept using electronic storage, the authority may make the register available for inspection by the public on a website maintained by the authority for that purpose.

Question 10: Do you agree the requirements planning authorities have to keep the register of local place plans should be aligned to the existing arrangements for registers?

Please comment on your answer (particularly if you do not agree)

8.2 Responses at Question 10 by respondent type are set out in Table 8.1 below.

Table 8.1
Question 10: Do you agree the requirements planning authorities have to keep the register of local place plans should be aligned to the existing arrangements for registers?
Yes No No view Total
Individuals 41 1 18 60
% of individuals answering 68% 2% 30%  
Organisations        
Community Council or Trust 27 2 7 36
Developer 3 12 1 16
Local Authority, Community Planning Partnership or Transport Partnership 29 1 1 31
Other - Private Sector 6 2 0 8
Public Body 3 0 3 6
Representative Body 7 1 1 9
Third Sector or Voluntary Group 18 1 2 21
Total organisations 93 19 15 127
% of organisations answering 73% 15% 12%  
All respondents 134 20 33 187
% of respondents answering 72% 11% 18%  

8.3 A majority of those who answered the question – 72% - agreed that requirements for the register of LPPs should be aligned with existing arrangements for registers, while 11% disagreed and 18% had no view. Developers were the only group in which a majority of respondents disagreed.

8.4 Around 100 respondents made an additional comment at Question 10. Please note that issues relating primarily to maps of LPPs are considered at Question 14.

Views of those who agreed

8.5 Respondents who agreed suggested that alignment with existing requirements would be sensible, reasonable or simple. They also pointed to the importance of accessibility, transparency and accountability or noted that councils already hold other planning registers. Respondents specified that the LPP register should be held online, in electronic form or should be hosted on the local authority website. It was argued there should be no requirement to keep hard copies at Council offices.

8.6 It was suggested the proposed arrangement would reinforce the function of LPPs as a formal part of the planning process, and that LPPs could be available on the planning authority website alongside the LDP and other planning documents, linked to NPF4. However, it was also emphasised that ownership of the LPP should be clearly with the community, not the Council, and that any contact details given should be to community representatives. Whether the planning authority should seek permission from the community body (as owner of the intellectual property) before including an LPP on the register was also queried.

8.7 An alternative view was that it would be preferable to link spatial, community planning and community led planning together more holistically, in which context linking the LPP to the LDP was seen as inappropriate and potentially misleading to those involved in preparing the LPP.

8.8 The Scottish Government's commitment to develop a central online register of digital LPPs was welcomed and this was seen as a useful resource for a range of organisations, including community bodies. It was also suggested it could be used to show areas where uptake of community place planning is low, and where funding may be required to unlock community involvement.

8.9 Other suggestions included that:

  • If local authorities are obliged to consult Scottish Showpeople as a distinct group, the LPP should cross-refer with other place plans and therefore should be kept on the same register.
  • The register should be available in public libraries.
  • It should be reviewed and updated at 6-month intervals.

Views of those who disagreed

8.10 Many of the respondents who disagreed with alignment with existing requirements were also looking for LPPs to be available online, arguing for a simple online register. They also supported proposals for a central digital register, including to allow communities to learn from other examples. It was suggested existing registers may not be suitable or may need to be made more accessible.

Other issues raised

8.11 Some respondents commented on issues relating to the registration, submission and status of LPPs rather than solely where the register should be held. Points included that:

  • A centralised register of community bodies in their area would assist planning authorities in issuing invitations to prepare LPPs and to ensure that they are prepared only by community-controlled bodies.
  • LPPs may fall into more than one local authority area, and the question of where plans are registered in this instance does not seem to be addressed.
  • Community groups will require guidance on what is needed for an LPP to be registered, and a procedure will be required for situations where an LPP does not fulfil the statutory requirements.
  • A validation framework to support the evaluation of LPPs would promote consistency and understanding of what information is required.
  • The submission of LPPs should be in a prescribed digital format / size that allows the local authority to map it and easily hold it on a website in digital form.
  • Clarity that LPPs are 'registered' rather than 'approved' or 'adopted' would be useful.
  • Guidance is required on the material weight to be placed on an LPP. It was also argued that, unless the agreed community position is given weight as a material consideration, then LPPs will have no value.

Question 11: Do you agree that the additional information provided by the community body alongside the LPP should be kept on the register of local place plans?

Please comment on your answer (particularly if you do not agree)

8.12 The consultation paper suggests that, to provide a more complete picture of the development of the LPP, the plan could be supplemented by additional information submitted by the community body. Question 11 asks if all additional information should be placed on the register.

8.13 Responses at Question 11 by respondent type are set out in Table 8.2 below.

8.14 A large majority of respondents who answered the question – 80% - agreed that additional information provided alongside the LPP should be kept on the register, while 8% disagreed and 11% had no view.

Table 8.2
Question 11: Do you agree that the additional information provided by the community body alongside the LPP should be kept on the register of local place plans?
Yes No No view Total
Individuals 53 1 6 60
% of individuals answering 88% 2% 10%  
Organisations        
Community Council or Trust 27 3 6 36
Developer 13 2 1 16
Local Authority, Community Planning Partnership or Transport Partnership 22 4 0 26
Other - Private Sector 8 0 0 8
Public Body 2 0 4 6
Representative Body 8 1 1 10
Third Sector or Voluntary Group 14 4 3 21
Total organisations 94 14 15 123
% of organisations answering 76% 11% 12%  
All respondents 147 15 21 183
% of respondents answering 80% 8% 11%  

8.15 Around 100 respondents provided an additional comment at Question 11.

Views of those who agreed

8.16 Transparency was the issue raised most frequently by respondents who agreed that additional information should be kept on the register. It was suggested that the register should be a comprehensive, central repository available in an accessible format. Providing access to the LPP evidence base was thought important to allow interested parties to understand the context or broader picture that may have informed the LPP. The need to make a clear distinction between the LPP and supporting information was also suggested.

8.17 Other reasons for including additional information on the register included that:

  • The format of LPPs should not be prescribed, so LPPs are likely to take a range of forms – including a main document supported by other documents.
  • It will be important to record the community's view especially if this is contrary to the LDP or if the LPP is not incorporated into the LDP.
  • It will avoid Freedom of Information requests to get background information.
  • There should be an opportunity to challenge whether additional information is accurate and complete.

8.18 Some respondents added caveats to their approval, primarily that only the additional information required by law should be included. The need for a simple, consistent format was suggested, and that contact details for the community body could be provided for anyone wanting further information.

8.19 Other suggested limits included that information put on the register should:

  • Only be included after the community body has been asked and is willing that it should be included.
  • Be within limits set out in guidance.
  • Be reviewed and scaled back if appropriate.
  • Be compliant with GDPR requirements.
  • Not include commercially confidential material or that confidential information should be redacted.

8.20 Some respondents expressed a view that all information should be part of the LPP rather than separate from it. In this case, including additional information as appendices was suggested.

View of those who disagreed

8.21 Reasons given for thinking additional information should not be placed on the register included both that it should be possible to read and understand an LPP on its own terms and that it is important to keep the system simple. Concerns were also raised that additional material might be regarded as a material consideration and that any expectation that additional information will be produced might add to the burden on community bodies.

8.22 Echoing the views of some respondents noted above, it was suggested only the minimum information required by law should be included or that additional information should be added at the discretion of the planning authority. Rather than placing additional information on the register it was argued that a list of other documents could be provided as best practice.

8.23 There were mixed views on whether or where additional information might be held including that:

  • The council might wish to have sight of additional information as part of any validation process but should not hold or maintain records of such information.
  • Additional information should be retained, but possibly not on the register. It could be hosted by the community body.

Other issues raised

8.24 Respondents who had agreed and disagreed at the closed question, raised points with respect to the advantages and disadvantages of including additional information on the register. A concern that additional information could be a source of contention where developers are at odds with the LPP was suggested, or that this information could be used by developers trying to get an LPP set aside.

Question 12: Please provide your views on the level and content of information to be placed on the register.

8.25 Around 135 respondents answered Question 12.

8.26 Comments tended to reflect the respondent's position at Question 11 with general observations including that any or all available information should be placed on the register. Transparency was again cited as important, along with accessibility. The need for flexibility was also suggested and that content could be very variable, depending on the community body and the extent of the LPP.

8.27 The view that all information should be part of the LPP rather than being submitted separately was reiterated.

8.28 Elements that respondents suggested might be included on the register included:

  • The LPP.
  • The name of the community body that produced the plan and their contact details. A charity registration and the body's constitution were also suggested.
  • Dates associated with preparation, registration or validation of the LPP.
  • A map of the LPP area / boundaries.
  • A statement of conformity with legal provision.
  • A statement from the local authority on whether the LPP is considered to be in accord with the existing LDP.
  • A record of community engagement/consultation activities.
  • A summary of the project proposals.
  • Information gathered to inform the LPP or submitted with the LPP.
  • Links to further information on documents submitted.
  • Budgets or financial plans.
  • A checklist of documents.

8.29 While some respondents simply suggested the register should include the LPP, there were apparently differing views on the status of the plan on the register. While some respondents referenced draft plans or suggested that communities should be free to update or develop their LPPs, it was also suggested that only validated or adopted LPPs should be formally recorded on the register. If the latter, it was suggested the planning authority might choose to publicise LPPs that are at an earlier stage in the process separately on its website.

8.30 Other points on the content of information included that:

  • It should not contain proposals which were not included in the consultation process for the LPP.
  • It should be subject to GDPR redactions.

8.31 Respondents who did not think additional information should be included typically argued for a shorter list of contents, at minimum just the LPP plus a formal letter of adoption, a statement of conformity, or a boundary map.

8.32 Other issues raised with relation to content placed on the register included:

  • Information on any land or buildings of particular significance to the local area should be included on the register of LPPs, to help ensure that any important community assets are appropriately recognised.
  • It is important that duplication of policy information is avoided and that out-of-date information is removed or archived to assist those bringing forward planning applications and to avoid potential confusing or conflicting information.

Removal of the Local Place Plan from the register

8.33 The consultation paper notes that, over a period of time, the register will contain LPPs that: have been submitted ready for the next LDP cycle; have already been taken into account through the LDP process; or have potentially been taken into account through an amendment of the LDP. It is suggested, therefore, that there may be value in a planning authority being able to remove LPPs after a particular point in the cycle of LDP preparation.

Question 13: Do you agree with the proposal that a planning authority may remove an LPP from the register once it has been taken into account in the LDP, and must do so when requested by the community body that prepared it?

Please comment on your answer (particularly if you do not agree)

8.34 Responses at Question 13 by respondent type are set out in Table 8.3 below.

8.35 A majority of those who answered the question - 57% - disagreed with the proposal that a planning authority may remove an LPP from the register once it has been taken into account, while 26% agreed and 18% had no view. Local authorities were the only group in which a majority of respondents agreed.

8.36 Around 135 respondents provided an additional comment at Question 13.

Table 8.3
Question 13: Do you agree with the proposal that a planning authority may remove an LPP from the register once it has been taken into account in the LDP, and must do so when requested by the community body that prepared it?

Yes

No

No view

Total

Individuals

15

36

10

61

% of individuals answering

25%

59%

16%

Organisations

Community Council or Trust

4

22

10

36

Developer

1

15

0

16

Local Authority, Community Planning Partnership or Transport Partnership

17

11

0

28

Other - private sector

3

4

1

8

Public Body

0

0

6

6

Representative Body

3

5

1

9

Third Sector or Voluntary Group

4

11

5

20

Total organisations

32

68

23

123

% of organisations answering

26%

55%

19%

All respondents

47

104

33

184

% of respondents answering

26%

57%

18%

Views of those who disagreed

8.37 It should be noted that, while some respondents were clear that neither the planning authority nor the community body should remove an LPP from the register, others who answered no at the closed question expressed a view that the planning authority should remove an LPP from the register if asked to do so by the community body that prepared it.

8.38 Several respondents commented on the phrase 'taken into account' and clarification of what this means was requested. It was suggested that the term is subjective, does not mean an LPP has been delivered, or is insufficient for grounds for removing an LPP for purposes of transparency.

8.39 Previous experience that documentation submitted to LDPs had not been taken into account was cited, and it was suggested that it would be wrong to remove the historical record of documents submitted.

8.40 It was also argued that LPPs represent an independent record of the community body's aspirations for their area and that allowing the local authority to deregister them runs counter to the objective of giving communities a role. Allowing LPPs to be removed was suggested to undermine them as an empowerment mechanism for local communities and, unless entirely included within an LDP, it was argued that to do so could inflame community opinion and create conflict between communities and planning authorities.

8.41 An alternative perspective was that an LPP should not be removed as it provides evidence of consultation with local communities and that the views of those consulted have been considered.

Removing a Local Place Plan once it has been taken into account in the LDP

8.42 Some respondents specified that the planning authority should not remove an LPP from the register or that it should only be removed if superseded.

8.43 Reasons it was thought the planning authority should not remove LPPs after taking them into account included that:

  • An LPP should exist in its own right as a material consideration.
  • LPPs should remain on the register until the LDP that considers them has been superseded, so they sit alongside the LDP. The LPP should be an integral part of the planning process and should be publicly available as a reference document for the life of the LDP.
  • An LDP might be modified during Examination in a way which reduces the inclusion of matters from an LPP.
  • LDPs may be reviewed and altered during their lifetime.
  • Even if information is out-of-date, the existence of a LPP is better than a void for that area.
  • Even once an LPP is incorporated into the LDP, an LPP will remain a consideration to be taken into account in the development management processes.
  • LPPs contain a level of detail that cannot be reflected in the LDP, and represent valuable material and evidence of local ideas and views, even if out-of-date. The LPP is likely to capture wider needs and priorities than those set out in the LDP which is purely spatial.
  • LPPs provide information that helps developers understand the community's aspirations.

8.44 Some respondents argued LPPs should be retained as a record or for reference purposes, with suggestions that this could be on a secondary register or that the status of LPPs should be reflected rather than removing them.

8.45 Alternative processes were also suggested including:

  • A review process for LPPs and that communities should be able to update LPPs.
  • If an LPP has not been refreshed for a long period (perhaps 10 years) then it would be removed, and that setting out such a process from the beginning could make it less contentious.
  • At the start of each LDP cycle (when the planning authority invites local communities to prepare an LPP) community bodies would be required to confirm whether an existing LPP should remain on the register. The planning authority could remove an LPP from the register if no confirmation that it should be retained is given.
  • There should be an adjudication process if the community body does not agree an LPP has been taken into account. This could be a right of appeal – for example to the Planning and Environmental Appeals Division - if they disagreed with a decision to remove an LPP from the register.
  • It may be appropriate to specify the lifespan of LPPs.

8.46 Respondents also set out criteria to be fulfilled before a planning authority could remove an LPP from the register. These included that it should be only:

  • After providing reasons for removal.
  • With the consent of the community body.
  • After a set period of time.
  • With a live record of when documents are removed, by whom, and with an explanation as to why.

Removing at request of the community body

8.47 As noted above, some respondents thought an LPP should be removed from the register if the community body that prepared the LPP requests this. It was suggested that the community body has ownership of the plan and should decide what happens to it.

8.48 However, other respondents thought there should be limits, with points including that:

  • A community body should give a good reason for removing the plan from the register. Regulations should set out the circumstances in which it would be reasonable to make such a request and what evidence is required to support it.
  • The community should be consulted prior to removal or that the community body should demonstrate a request to remove an LPP from the register is widely agreed by those who prepared it.
  • The community body should not be able to request removal of an LPP until a replacement LPP is produced.
  • The request and the reason for it should be recorded on the register for the remainder of the plan period.

8.49 Removal of an LPP by the community body was also opposed since:

  • The plan belongs to the community, not a single body.
  • Confidence of potential delivery partners in the LPP as a reliable basis on which to prepare development proposals for the area could be reduced.

8.50 With respect to the possibility that an LPP could be reviewed and altered, concerns were raised that if community bodies can prepare a LPP at any time, they may do it immediately after the LDP is adopted if they object to any part of its content.

Views of those who agreed

8.51 Among respondents who agreed with the proposals, comments included that these are appropriate, and that an LPP should be removed from the register once taken into account in the LDP or when the community body requests its removal. A flexible approach to reflect local circumstances was also suggested.

8.52 Reflecting a view among some respondents who disagreed at the closed question, some respondents agreed only in so far as removing an LPP on request from a community body or where it has been superseded, rather than as a decision by the planning authority.

Removing a Local Place Plan once it has been taken into account in the LDP

8.53 Again reflecting issues raised by respondents who disagreed at the closed question, respondents queried what is envisaged by taking an LPP 'into account', and whether an LPP might wait many years before being taken into account. The importance of who defines how and whether an LPP has been taken into account in an LDP was highlighted, and it was noted there could be disagreement if options listed in an LPP are not taken forward to the LDP. It was suggested the wording should be changed such that an LPP is removed from the register when the LDP to which it relates has been adopted.

8.54 Also reflecting a suggestion set out above, it was suggested LPPs might cease to be registered in line with each LDP cycle, and could subsequently be reviewed and reregistered for the next cycle. One respondent noted that their agreement to remove an LPP once taken into account was only if LPPs are taken into account during preparation of a single LDP.

8.55 The need for clear guidance on removal of plans was suggested. Concerns with respect to transparency were noted, particularly with regard to how an LPP has been taken into consideration if an LPP is removed. The importance of providing feedback and of maintaining trust between community bodies and the planning system was highlighted.

8.56 Other caveats included that removal of an LPP by the planning authority should be only possible:

  • As long as the LPP is sufficiently identified within the LDP or where the entirety of the LPP has been fully taken into account in an adopted LDP.
  • After a planning authority has demonstrated how it has taken the LPP into account.
  • After a planning authority has written to the community body explaining why the LPP is being removed and the community body has agreed.
  • If the community body is satisfied the LPP has been taken into account.

8.57 It was also suggested that areas change and that LPPs may benefit from a review period to ensure that they remain relevant and representative of the communities aims for their place.

Removing at request of the community body

8.58 Points made by respondents who thought an LPP should be removed at the request of the community body included that the community who prepared the document should retain the right to control its display, including the power to have it taken down from public view. The need for clarity on the procedure to be followed should the planning authority not agree with an LPP being removed was highlighted.

8.59 It was also suggested the LPP should be removed if it is no longer reflective of the community views, although this would require introduction of a formal and regular review process for LPPs by local authorities.

8.60 However, care to ensure a request to remove an LPP reflects the view of the wider community was suggested – for example in circumstances where a community body's elected members change.

Retaining Local Place Plans removed from the register

8.61 It was noted that the consultation paper refers to the possibility of planning authorities retaining LPPs should they wish to, and it was suggested this would require clear guidance to assess such scenarios.

8.62 It was acknowledged that there could be good reasons to also keep an LPP available to view as a record of public interest beyond the date it is taken into account by the LDP, and that LPPs will remain valid as an expression of a community body's proposals for the use and development of land.

8.63 It was suggested that, as with planning applications, a record of all LPPs should be kept on the formal register as having been submitted. Suggestions included:

  • The LPP should be retained, but potentially labelled or moved into another category, until the LDP or LPP is replaced.
  • LPPs could be included with other background documents on the Council page dedicated to the LDP.
  • LPPs could be archived in accessible form.
  • Removed LPPs might be made available as a resource for other groups for a limited period – for example, three years.

Other issues raised

8.64 Finally, it was proposed that the regulations should also outline set time-windows for the development and subsequent review / updating of LPPs to ensure plans remain relevant and avoid ongoing changes to LPPs once plans have been formalised and agreed to avoid a "revolving door" system. It should also be specified in regulations that a request for a new LPP to be put on the register for an area necessarily requires other LPPs for that area to be removed from the register. However, as the process to update an LPP is long and needs resource, an old plan may need to be removed so the community's views are not misrepresented.

Making the Local Place Plan map available

Question 14: Do you agree the requirements planning authorities have for making the map of local place plans available should be aligned to the existing arrangements for registers? Please comment on your answer (particularly if you do not agree)

8.65 Responses at Question 14 by respondent type are set out in Table 8.4 below.

Table 8.4
Question 14: Do you agree the requirements planning authorities have for making the map of local place plans available should be aligned to the existing arrangements for registers?
Yes No No view Total
Individuals 41 2 17 60
% of individuals answering 68% 3% 28%  
Organisations        
Community Council or Trust 26 1 7 34
Developer 2 14 0 16
Local Authority, Community Planning Partnership or Transport Partnership 29 1 0 30
Other - private sector 6 2 0 8
Public Body 1 0 5 6
Representative Body 10 1 1 12
Third Sector or Voluntary Group 18 1 2 21
Total organisations 92 20 15 126
% of organisations answering 73% 16% 12%  
All respondents 133 22 32 187
% of respondents answering 71% 12% 17%  

8.66 A majority of those who answered the question – 71% - agreed that requirements for making the map of LPPs available should be aligned with existing arrangements for registers, while 12% disagreed and 17% had no view. Most of the respondents who disagreed were Developers.

8.67 Around 70 respondents made an additional comment at Question 14. Some respondents noted they were unable to comment having no knowledge of the existing arrangements, while others simply referenced their answers at Question 10.

Views of those who agreed

8.68 Many of the points made at Question 14 reflected issues raised at Question 10 with the proposal to align with existing arrangements suggested as sensible and practical, and the importance of transparency highlighted. The need to make registers available online was again emphasised and it was argued that maps must be searchable.

8.69 It was suggested that:

  • There needs to be a clear requirement about scale for boundary maps on an Ordnance Survey base, since otherwise it may not be possible to establish consistently what boundaries are being drawn, especially if there are cases of overlap.
  • A simple map should be produced to confirm which LPPs have been prepared so interested parties can see whether or not one has been done or is being done for their area of interest.
  • The plan for LPPs should be layered with LDP site allocation maps and an interactive map similar to LDP proposals maps would allow users to scan an area of interest.
  • A map-based index could identify when a LPP was registered plus a range of attributes against the polygon representing the plan. The Wind Energy Map prepared by Highland Council was given as an example.
  • A storymap with embedded map content could be used with references to relevant plans (although a disadvantage would be that this would require maintaining).
  • Emphasis and alignment between LPPs and Locality Plans will be essential with, for example, a dedicated webpage on local authority websites and clear links to information on the 'online central register'.

8.70 Points relating to the mapping system used included that existing mapping tools available on Council websites and related GIS search facilities therein must be used, to avoid need for investment in new / updated technology. Resource requirements for local authorities in terms of data standards, accessibility and GDPR were also referenced.

8.71 However, it was also noted that community bodies may need support to use mapping systems that have been designed for professional users and that clear guidance should be developed for both communities and local / planning authorities.

Views of those who disagreed

8.72 Most respondents who disagreed argued that the primary requirement should be for the map to be readily accessible online, sometimes also reiterating support for a common digital register maintained and funded by the Scottish Government.

Issues relating to boundaries

8.73 It was suggested to be important that LPP boundaries are defined in a similar manner to the legislative requirements under Community Right to Buy and Asset Transfer under Part 5 of the Community Empowerment Act.

8.74 Other points in relation to the boundaries of LPP areas included highlighting the potential for plans to overlap. It was suggested that:

  • The consultation paper implies a preference (paragraph 85) that LPP boundaries do not overlap but there is nothing to stop this situation from occurring.
  • The same paragraph could imply that a community should 'get in first' when registering their LPP so their boundary takes primacy. This was suggested to privilege communities with the greatest skills and resources.
  • Most LPPs will include a range of sites / projects and a Place Framework area map would help to resolve this, while allowing multiple plans to be facilitated throughout the process.

8.75 The need for guidance on overlapping LPPs was highlighted, including how LDPs should deal with any conflicting elements if both plans are valid and registered.


Contact

Email: Chief.Planner@gov.scot