2. Preparation of Local Place Plans
2.1 The provision introduced by the 2019 Act requires a community body to have regard to the National Planning Framework and the LDP when preparing an LPP. However, it also provides for Ministers to set out any other matters they consider community bodies should additionally be required to have regard to – including a Locality Plan where one is in place.
2.2 Locality Plans are prepared by Community Planning Partnerships under Section 10 of the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015.
Question 1: Do you agree with the proposal that community bodies should have regard to any Locality Plan that is in place for the area under consideration when preparing their Local Place Plan?
Please comment on your answer (particularly if you do not agree)
2.3 Responses at Question 1 are set out in Table 2.1 below.
|% of individuals answering||92%||7%||2%|
|Community Council or Trust||30||5||0||35|
|Local Authority, Community Planning Partnership or Transport Partnership||34||0||0||34|
|Other - Private Sector||8||0||0||8|
|Third Sector or Voluntary Group||18||5||0||23|
|% of organisations answering||91%||8%||2%|
|% of respondents answering||91%||7%||2%|
Please note that percentages in these tables may not sum to 100% due to rounding.
2.4 A substantial majority – 91% of those answering the question – agreed that community bodies should have regard to any Locality Plan when preparing their LPP. Those disagreeing - 7% of those answering the question - were all Community Councils or Trusts, Third Sector or Voluntary Groups or Individuals. The remaining 2% of those answering the question had no view.
2.5 Around 150 respondents provided an additional comment.
Views of those agreeing with the proposal
2.6 General observations by those who agreed with the proposal included that it makes sense to tie the relevant local plans together and that the preparation of LPPs should have regard to all relevant plans and policies. A further point, picked up again at the next question, was that when developing their LPP, communities should have regard to a range of plans that are in place across both community and spatial planning. Aligning priorities between spatial planning and community planning was described as key.
2.7 With specific reference to Locality Plans, the connection was seen as having the potential to strengthen the link between spatial and community planning at a local level. One suggestion was that if the two plans are to co-exist then it should not just be that the LPP has regard to the Locality Plan, both plans should be required to have regard for each other.
2.8 In terms of what Locality Plans bring, it was noted that their scope is broad and that they often cover areas that would be of particular relevance and importance for LPPs, such as housing, employment, tackling poverty, and community assets and facilities. It was also reported that they are focused on climate change. It was suggested that having regard to a Locality Plan will also help ensure that LPPs take forward community activity that is supported by related developments and has the most impact for their community.
2.9 Other comments also addressed the relationship between LPPs and Locality Plans with suggestions including that:
- The regulations should make clear the distinction between non-statutory community led action plans and a statutory Locality Plan, and should clarify which plans and policies takes precedence in terms of decision-making.
- Those developing Locality Plans or LPPs should have regard to the other Plan when their own is being prepared or reviewed. It was suggested that this relationship should be set out in regulations and clarified in guidance.
2.10 It was also noted that all statutory bodies, with one respondent referencing Scottish Water and Transport Scotland particularly, should take account of LPPs.
Risks and advantages
2.11 Following on from comments about the relationship between Locality Plans and LPPs, there was a concern that failure to have regard to any Locality Plan may result in disconnected policy, strategy and vision, and missed opportunities to improve place, communities and outcomes for the individuals within the communities. It was also suggested that there could be confusion if a Locality Plan and LPP cover the same area but have different priorities. Amongst the specific risks or problems which respondents thought could arise should the two Plans differ were that:
- LPPs could be used as a tool to prevent otherwise appropriate development meeting identified needs.
- Anyone preparing or assessing planning applications has to assess them against relevant plans. Confusion regarding what is acceptable and what is not could lead to costly delays and additional work, including for local authorities.
2.12 It was noted that, by definition, Locality Planning areas are experiencing more disadvantages, and the connection to LPPs was seen as a way of helping to keep a continued focus on addressing socio-economic inequalities at a community level. It was seen as important for a community body to prioritise any community proposals in an area of multiple social deprivation in its LPP.
2.13 In terms of other positives to stem from having regard to any Locality Plan, it was suggested that the requirement would:
- Ensure there is an evidence base for LPPs and that duplication of effort is avoided, including through pooling of resources.
- Help build relationships between community bodies and other community planning partners. It was also noted that a range of stakeholders will have input into the Locality Plan and, where appropriate, may also be able to contribute to and assist in the preparation of an LPP.
- Provide an opportunity for communities to collaborate and share learning with other local communities when developing projects and ideas as well as responding to communities of interest.
- Help ensure that community involvement does not become the preserve of less deprived areas or individuals.
Caveats or queries
2.14 Although agreeing with the proposal, a number of respondents, including some Community Council or Trust and Individual respondents, did note that their support was conditional on it being possible for a community to take a view that differs from the Locality Plan and the LPP does not have to accept or include the contents of the Locality Plan. This was sometimes framed in relation to what is meant by 'having regard' to any Locality Plan, with further observations including that community bodies should be able to call for changes to be made to the Locality Plan to take their views into account. Another suggestion was that if there are existing plans which the LPP is not able to support, and if after negotiation between the community body and the local authority these areas remain unresolved, the LPP should include a record of points of difference.
2.15 Other caveats to agreeing with the proposal included that:
- The consultation document rightly highlights that Locality Plans may now be out of date. It is important that older plans do not overrule new LPPs when the needs of the area may well have changed. If a Locality Plan was produced several years before and, in the interim, there have been some significant changes in the locality, then there ought to be a mechanism whereby community bodies' proposals for changes to the Locality Plan can be considered along with the LPP.
- Community Planning Partnerships (CPPs) must have undertaken high quality community engagement in order to create the Locality Plan. An example given was that Locality Plans that have been developed with the involvement of children and young people are much more likely to be attuned to children and young people's priorities than those emerging through LPP preparation.
- The Locality Plan must be available in an accessible form and, ideally there should be opportunity to discuss the Plan with someone involved in working on its contents. This would support groups, and in particular children and young people, to engage in the process in an informed fashion.
Options going forward
2.16 With regard to how community bodies could have regard to Locality Plans, it was suggested that, as far as possible, the process for preparation and standards for engagement should be consistent across any group or agency leading such exercises.
2.17 A number of Local Authority respondents were amongst those suggesting that there is potential for a community group to collaborate with community planning partners in the integrated production of a LPP and a future Locality Plan, and that this could prevent consultation fatigue for communities and duplication of effort.
2.18 Local Authority respondents were also amongst those suggesting that CPPs and community bodies may wish to go further and integrate LPPs and any Locality Plan. It was suggested that allowing Locality Plans and LPPs to be joined would be the best possible solution for holistic, place-based service provision, and could help reduce possible confusion resulting from different plans being in place.
2.19 A connected point was that, given that the Scottish Government has confirmed no additional funding will be made available to support the production of LPPs, the use of existing resources will be essential, and the approach would also recognise that community bodies are likely to be staffed by volunteers and subject to their own resource constraints.
2.20 There was a call for further consideration to be given to how a combined approach could be encouraged and enabled in practice, including whether the approach would need to be provided for through secondary legislation. There was also a call for guidance to consider how a joint approach could be taken forward. One suggestion was using the Local Outcome Improvement Plan (LOIP) as a central reference point.
2.21 Suggestions relating to the proposal that community bodies should have regard to any Locality Plan included that:
- Local authorities should provide a list of any Locality Plans and LOIPs that should be taken into consideration.
- In the event that a Locality Plan is not already in place for the relevant areas, it may be that aspects of the usual contents of a Locality Plan could be incorporated into an LPP, for example, local projects.
- The LPP development process could also act as an opportunity to kick start a Locality Plan review, focused on land use, development and the change of use of land.
- There will be instances where the area covered by an LPP does not correspond with that of a Locality Plan or extends over two or more Locality Plans. A Locality Plan may be out of date or not be in place for a proposed LPP area. The Regulations should address these issues.
Views of those disagreeing with the proposal
2.22 Those disagreeing with the proposal sometimes raised similar issues to those who had made their agreement conditional on community bodies being able to take a view that differed from the Locality Plan. Comments included that community bodies should not be constrained from the outset, should as far as possible be able to start with a 'clean sheet', or that collectively agreed decisions made by a representative group of community members in an LPP should take precedence over a Locality Plan. Supporting arguments included that:
- There is no standard to determine the content and quality of a Locality Plan.
- The overlap between Locality Plans and LPPs is quite limited. Also, in urban areas the facilities designated in a Locality Plan may be – and may best be - delivered entirely outside any specific LPP area.
- Locality Plans are prepared by CPPs who have a political agenda driven by the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation and who undertake little or no consultation with local communities.
- The complexity of the process of having regard to a Locality Plan - and of Locality Plans themselves - will deter participation and exacerbate inequality.
- Should a community body conclude that their LPP ought not to entirely reflect the Locality Plan, they may not have the expertise to prepare a demonstration that they have indeed had regard to the Locality Plan, which will stand up to (potentially aggressive) legal scrutiny.
2.23 Alternative approaches proposed included that there should not be a requirement to take a Locality Plan into account, with 'should' being removed and replaced with a recommendation to make reference to the Locality Plan.
2.24 It was also suggested that any requirement to have regard to Locality Plans does not need to be expressed in legislation. The connection was made to the original policy ethos of keeping LPP legislation uncomplicated and light touch, and it was noted that community bodies will already have a requirement to have regard to the National Planning Framework (NPF) and LDPs, both of which comprise the statutory development plan which will have been rigorously scrutinised and examined. It was suggested that any requirements to consider Locality Plans should be covered by guidance rather than legislation or regulation.
Question 2: Do you consider that community bodies should have to have regard to other additional matters beyond the Locality Plan when preparing their Local Place Plan?
Please comment on your answer, giving examples (particularly if you agree)
2.25 Responses at Question 2 are set out in Table 2.2 below.
|% of individuals answering||84%||7%||10%|
|Community Council or Trust||28||6||2||36|
|Local Authority, Community Planning Partnership or Transport Partnership||32||0||0||32|
|Other - private sector||8||0||0||8|
|Third Sector or Voluntary Group||19||4||0||23|
|% of organisations answering||89%||8%||2%|
|% of respondents answering||87%||8%||5%|
2.26 A substantial majority – 87% of those answering the question – considered that community bodies should have to have regard to other additional matters beyond the Locality Plan when preparing their Local Place Plan. Those disagreeing - 8% of those answering the question - were Community Councils or Trusts, Third Sector or Voluntary Groups or Individuals and a Representative Body. The remaining 5% of those answering the question had no view.
2.27 Around 160 respondents provided an additional comment.
Views of those who thought that community bodies should have to have regard to other additional matters beyond the Locality Plan
2.28 In addition to giving examples of additional matters beyond the Locality Plan that community bodies should have regard to, a number of respondents made more general observations relating to the types of matters that should be taken into account.
2.29 Comments included that it is likely that, for any given area, there will be other relevant policies, plans and strategies, including those produced by local authorities and community planning partners or bodies. Community led action plans prepared by community trusts were given as an example.
2.30 As suggested in the consultation paper, it was recognised that it would be difficult to capture all relevant materials within secondary legislation. However, it was suggested that it will be important that those developing LPPs are encouraged to consider the local context and take relevant plans into consideration as part of their own plan preparation processes.
2.31 However, it was also suggested that any requirements beyond the Locality Plan should not be too onerous. Very much reflecting comments at Question 1, points included that a formal legal requirement would be burdensome for many community groups and the more prescriptive the process becomes, the less likely a community body is likely to be able to, and willing to develop a compliant LPP. An associated concern was that a long list of additional matters might be perceived as too 'top down' and as going against the very notion of community led planning.
2.32 There was a range of different perspectives in terms of how any requirements should be framed, including that:
- Dependant on the nature of the LPP, the Scottish Government should consider making it a duty on a community body to have regard to any relevant subject plan, particularly those required by statute and subject to statutory scrutiny, when preparing an LPP.
- Community bodies should be directed to have regard to certain plans - with the LDP, NPF and LOIP all cited - and should be encouraged to review any other community plans and local programmes for the area relevant to them when context setting and drafting their vision and priorities for the LPP.
- Any direction should be expressed via guidance rather than regulations. There was reference to guidance at either a national or a local level.
2.33 In terms of how relevant materials should be defined, it was noted that plans relevant to local communities and their LPPs may be geographical or spatial but also that they could be thematic, for example related to community learning and development or specific groups, including with a focus on inequalities.
2.34 Recognising the potential complexity, including the number of plans, strategies or documents that could be of relevance, it was suggested that:
- There should be a requirement for the community body preparing an LPP to consult the relevant planning authority early in the LPP production process to be made aware of all existing relevant plans.
- It would be helpful if the legislation made clear provision for local authorities to produce additional guidance to that being developed by the Scottish Government to reflect local circumstances. Identifying within that guidance other plans/strategies that should be taken cognisance of in developing LPPs where these might impact on land use. It could be beneficial for guidance to recommend some dialogue between the community body and local authority to ensure local guidance has been reviewed and addressed and an analysis of the potential scope and content of the LPP has been reviewed.
- A list of applicable documents could be provided to any interested community body that approaches the planning authority to express their interest.
- Community bodies should also be encouraged to take cognisance of any approved planning permissions or applications for substantial development proposals in their areas, including the results of any previous public consultation undertaken on them.
2.35 It was also suggested that community bodies could be encouraged to carry out an exercise leading to the production of an Equality Impact Assessment, and that this would encourage them to consult and engage with as diverse a group of individuals as possible from the community.
Local Outcome Improvement Plan
2.36 A number of respondents, and particularly local authority respondents, considered that community bodies should give consideration to LOIPs, given their significance in community planning and to ensure a comprehensive understanding of local priorities. It was suggested that LOIPs provide a rich resource of information and collaborative working developed by a range of partners.
2.37 It was noted that not all areas have Locality Plans and taking LOIPs into account would ensure that emerging LPPs are informed by engagement with local authorities, community planning partners and other key stakeholders as well as having regard to and alignment with relevant policies, plans and strategies. It was also suggested that the LOIP could be a relevant reference document irrespective of whether there is a Locality Plan, including because it gives a high-level steer on inclusion, inequality and other strategic issues when preparing and engaging on an LPP.
2.38 However, a Community Council respondent noted that a LOIP may make no specific mention of the area being covered by an LPP. Another had a concern around the community engagement involved in developing LOIPs, and whether they represent a top down approach. The connected concern was that taking them into account could affect whether an LPP fully reflects the views of the community.
Local Development Plans and the National Planning Framework
2.39 There is already a requirement for community bodies to have regard to the LDP and NPF in preparing their LPPs. However, there were a number of references to LDPs and in particular to those developing LPPs having regard to the evidence report for adopted and emerging new-system LDPs. It was suggested that evidence reports will provide a readily-accessible source of information directly relevant to development planning and are likely to include information that is equally relevant to LPPs, including evidence relating to housing.
2.40 The fourth National Planning Framework (NPF4) was also recognised as being of relevance to LPPs, although one perspective was that a legislative requirement that community bodies have regard to NPF4 when preparing their plans may be unnecessary and overly onerous if LDPs are already consistent with NPF4.
Community planning partners
2.41 There was also reference to considering the plans of the statutory community planning partners.
Community Action Plans
2.42 It was suggested that Community Action Plans may be particularly relevant in some rural areas or islands, especially because they cover large parts of the area, including land within or immediately adjacent to settlement boundaries.
2.43 In terms of the relationship between Community Action Plans and LPPs, it was suggested that where there are both, but the bodies responsible are different, it will be important for the community body developing an LPP to collaborate with the body that was responsible for the Community Action Plan.
Thematic plans or strategies
2.44 Respondents also identified a range of theme or topic-related plans or strategies which could be of relevance, although it was noted that the need to have regard to material relevant to their local area may only be required if a LOIP is not in place. Suggestions included:
- Sustainability and climate change strategies, or a local authority-level Climate Change Manifesto. Also green network strategies.
- Land use strategies.
- Biodiversity strategies.
- Coastal plans.
- Island Plans.
- Economic or investment plans or strategies.
- Transport strategies or plans, including active travel strategies.
- Housing strategies or plans, including Local Housing Strategies.
- Local Heat and Energy Efficiency Strategies.
- Health or wellbeing-related plans, including Health and Social Care Partnership Locality Plans.
- Play strategies.
- Learning estate strategies.
- Open space strategies.
- Town centre strategies.
- Business plans for any business improvement district.
- Development trust plans.
- Cultural or creative plans or strategies, at a local or regional level, as well as the National Culture Strategy for Scotland.
- Heritage strategies and conservation area management plans.
- Good food and growing strategies.
Views of those who thought that community bodies should not have to have regard to other additional matters beyond the Locality Plan
2.45 Those who did not consider that community bodies should have to have regard to other additional matters beyond the Locality Plan when preparing their LPP tended to raise similar concerns to those who had disagreed with having regard to any Locality Plan (at Question 1). These included that any approach should not be too prescriptive and that, for it to be effective, the community who are preparing their LPP must feel that the ownership of that plan and its authorship resides locally.
2.46 As with some of those who had agreed, it was suggested that any matters to be considered should be set out in guidance rather than regulation. Other comments included that:
- As an LPP is strictly about land use and buildings, in a prescribed and limited area, the degree of intersection with other plans – even Locality Plans and LOIPs - is likely to be small.
It would be extremely difficult for a community group to show - to a legally-defensible standard - that they have indeed taken full account of other matters which they then conclude should not be entirely reflected in their LPP.