Play Sufficiency Assessment Regulations 2023: planning guidance

This guidance sets out the explanations and expectations of the provisions in the Play Sufficiency Assessment Regulations 2023. It supports the implementation of the Regulations, bringing together requirements from the Act and advice with regard to the preparation of the Play Sufficiency Assessment.

Overview of the Play Sufficiency Assessment

Legislative requirements

20. The Planning (Scotland) Act 2019[9] inserted a new section 16D Play Sufficiency Assessment into the Town and Country Planning (Scotland) Act 1997[10] ("the Act") with regard to local development plans. Section 16D sets out that a planning authority must assess the sufficiency of play opportunities for children in its area in preparing an evidence report.

21. Section 16D(2) of the Act states that Scottish Ministers must by regulations make provisions about – a) the form and content of the assessment, b) such persons who must be consulted in relation to the assessment, c) publication of the assessment.

22. The Town and Country Planning (Play Sufficiency Assessment) (Scotland) Regulations 2023[11] (‘the Regulations’) form part of a wider package of measures on planning reform, and the PSA must be prepared as part of preparing an evidence report that informs the preparation of a LDP, under the new development planning regulations[12].

23. The Regulations are standalone regulations for the purposes of the preparation of PSAs. There are no transitional arrangements required.

24. The implementation of the Regulations is supported by this guidance and future sharing of good practice and experience amongst planning authorities and those who are involved in preparing PSAs or using PSAs to inform their work.

25. It is the responsibility of the planning authority to prepare the PSA report, but in doing so, they should collaborate with stakeholders. These may include those from within the local or national park authority, such as from relevant departments/service teams, and external stakeholders, including the play sector and practitioners.

26. The Regulations require engagement with specific people, organisations, or groups, including children and their parents and carers, during the process of assessment. Further detail is given at paragraph 83 of this guidance.

27. The PSA must be completed as part of preparing an evidence report. This will help ensure there is good evidence on the sufficiency of play opportunities for children across the planning authority areas to inform the preparation of the LDP.

28. It is the responsibility of the individual planning authority to publish its completed PSA report by digital means as required by the Regulations.

Objectives of the PSA Regulations

29. Open spaces and other outdoor spaces provide many play opportunities for children and for relaxation and recreation. However, various research and survey data highlight a number of challenges relating to children’s use of open spaces and play spaces, including those of accessibility, use, quality, inclusion; and that disparities exist for children with disabilities and also as a result of cultural and socio-economic backgrounds.

30. Spatial planning and the design and management of our natural and built environment can be effective enablers to encourage, promote and facilitate the provision of and access to outdoor play opportunities for children and young people as part of their daily lives.

31. The statutory duty for the preparation of PSAs exists to ensure there is good quality evidence on the sufficiency of both outdoor formal and informal play spaces for children in their local neighbourhoods and in their local authority areas. The PSA will inform understanding of where children can play outdoors locally, how good are the play spaces, and if the play spaces meet children’s and young people’s needs.

32. The completed PSA report will inform the preparation of LDPs, allowing planning authorities to plan for appropriate provision of new or enhanced play opportunities in their areas.

33. The PSA should be prepared using an outcomes-based approach and inform opportunities to access outdoor play and recreation for all children; to advance equality, eliminate discrimination and to deliver improved health and wellbeing outcomes for children and young people across Scotland.



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