Provisions in the Planning (Scotland) Act 2019 allowing community bodies to prepare local place plans come into force on 22 January 2022. The Town and Country Planning (Local Place Plans) (Scotland) Regulations 2021, which set out the detailed process also come into force on that date.
What is a local place plan (“LPP”)?
The legislation describes an LPP as a “proposal as to the development or use of land”, it “may also identify land and buildings that the community body considers to be of particular significance to the local area”.
Who can make a local place plan?
LPPs can be made by a “community body” – either a community-controlled body or a community council.
What does the community body have to do?
In preparing an LPP the community body must have regard to the Local Development Plan for the land in question, the National Planning Framework, and any Locality Plan which is in place. The LPP must contain a map of the land to which the LPP relates, and set out the community body’s proposals for the land. The community body must set out its reasons for considering the LDP should be amended as set out in the LPP.
A copy of the proposed LPP must be notified to each councillor for the LPP area, and each community council whose area includes or adjoins the LPP area. Councillors and community councils are to be given a period of at least 28 days to make representations on the proposed LPP, but there is no legislative requirement for these representations to be taken into account.
The community body will then submit the proposed LPP to their local authority. This should be accompanied by a statement explaining why they consider the LDP should be amended, and a statement setting out their view of the level and nature of support for the LPP and the basis on which they have reached that view.
There is no specific requirement for a community body to carry out consultation on a proposed LPP, but the statement on the level of support for the proposal must include a description of the consultation that has been carried out.
What does the local authority have to do?
Every local authority must keep a register of all valid LPPs submitted to them. An LPP will be considered valid if the community body have complied with the prescribed requirements for the preparation, form and content of LPPs summarised above.
The Planning (Scotland) Act 2019 includes provisions which will require registered LPPs to be taken into account by local authorities during the preparation of LDPs. They will also require local authorities to invite local communities to prepare LPPs before preparing an LDP. However, there is no date set for these provisions to come into force.
What does this mean for development planning and decision making?
LPPs aim to give communities a direct say in the planning of development in their area. They do not form part of the statutory development plan, but (subject to the relevant provisions coming into force) will require to be taken into account during preparation of the LDPs.
Being “taken into account”, however, does not necessarily mean that an LPP will be incorporated into an emerging LDP in exactly the same terms, or at all. As long as consideration is given to an LPP, the local authority could choose to take an alternative approach. Further, the relatively low, procedural threshold for validity means there may be competing LPPs, which a local authority will require to balance. It seems likely that the statements on the level and nature of support for LPPs will be key when a local authority is considering the strength of consideration to be given to LPPs.
Currently new LDPs are to be prepared every five years, but this is to be extended to ten years. This means LPPs could end up on the register for several years before the local authority is required to take them into account in their preparation of a new LDP.
The status of LPPs for current decision-making is not at all clear. It seems likely that a registered LPP would be treated as a material consideration. However, given their purpose is to inform plan-making, and that local authorities are to take account of, but are not obliged to adopt, the proposals set out in an LPP, they may end up being given limited weight in the determination of planning applications, particularly if there is a conflict with existing policy. This is something that is likely to need careful consideration on a case by case basis.
If you have any questions about local place plans, please contact our Scottish Planning team.