Review of Strategic Planning - Conclusions and Next Steps

DescriptionConclusions and next steps of the Review of Strategic Planning
ISBN0 7559 0509 1
Official Print Publication Date
Website Publication DateJune 27, 2002

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    INTRODUCTION

    The Executive's intention to conduct a review of strategic planning was announced in November 2000. Between then and the launch of the consultation paper Review of Strategic Planning in June 2001, officials discussed the issues involved with a wide range of stakeholder interests both within the Executive and outwith. These discussions culminated in a seminar at Victoria in May 2001.

    We are grateful to all who took time to respond to the consultation paper. Over 300 responses were received, of which almost half came from Fife and addressed, almost exclusively, the issue of whether Fife should continue to be a structure plan area in its own right or whether Fife Council should be involved in the preparation of city region plans for Dundee and Edinburgh.

    The responses were analysed by an independent consultant. The analysis, and a digest of responses, can be viewed under Latest Publications at - www.scotland.gov.uk/planning

    Apart from the reaction from Fife, the responses were generally supportive of the proposals. Ministers have now given careful consideration to their proposals in the light of the views expressed in the responses, and the following section of this paper outlines how the review will proceed.

    This review is part of a broader range of initiatives to modernise the planning system - to make it fit for the 21 st century. Parallel initiatives include, in particular, work on public involvement in planning (about which an announcement is expected to be made later this year) and the updating of national planning policy on economic development and land for housing. Initiatives to be launched shortly include consultation by the Inquiry Reporters Unit about means of making inquiries less adversarial.

    SUMMARY AND CONCLUSIONS

    Question 1: Should National Planning Policy Guidelines be renamed National Planning Policy Statements?

    Proposal : that NPPGs should be renamed NPPSs on the grounds that they are, "in effect statements of Executive policy on planning issues of national significance". This would not make them binding or inflexible nor would it alter the more open preparation process which has been recently developed in relation to NPPGs. A clearer separation of analysis and justification from policy was envisaged.

    Response:

    In favour

    63%

    Opposed

    14%

    Mixed views

    23%

    Conclusion: We intend to adopt this proposal. Current thinking is that they should be called Scottish Planning Policies (SPP). The aim is to make the documents more concise and the policy content more explicit. Some of the NPPGs will be combined in the new SPP series. The Annex provides an indicative programme for the review. NPPG 1 will be updated during 2002 and published as SPP 1. We will retain the inclusive approach to the preparation of these documents by involving key stakeholders throughout the process.

    Question 2: Should some form of national overview document be prepared?

    Proposal: that a non-statutory, planning policy document covering the whole of Scotland, with an explicit spatial dimension, setting out how the country was likely to develop and change and how the planning system could assist in delivering that change should be prepared. It would not be a national plan, it would be aspirational but realistic, focusing on a limited number of subjects where the planning system could deliver sustainable solutions. It could be useful in the context of European Structural Fund resource allocation.

    Response:

    In favour

    80%

    Opposed

    4%

    Mixed views

    16%

    Conclusion: We intend to prepare a national planning framework, with extensive stakeholder involvement, commencing with a series of regional workshops in autumn 2002.

    Question 3: Should model development plan policies be drawn up?

    Proposal: that the Scottish Executive and local authorities should together draft model policies which might be generally applicable across Scotland. This would still leave councils free to develop or vary policies to reflect their particular circumstances.

    Response:

    In favour

    75%

    Opposed

    11%

    Mixed views

    14%

    Conclusion: We intend to adopt this proposal. The intention, however, is to commission consultants to take this work forward but probably not until 2003-04. A range of interests will help steer this work.

    Question 4: Should the current requirement to prepare structure plans for all parts of Scotland be removed?

    Proposal: that the higher tier of plan should concentrate on genuinely strategic issues which cross the boundaries of council areas, and that not all parts of Scotland face spatially strategic pressures such as population growth and that, consequently, the requirement for full coverage of structure plans should cease.

    Response:

    In favour

    69%

    Opposed

    18%

    Mixed views

    12%

    Conclusion: We intend to adopt this proposal. Every local authority shall be covered by development plans but in the case of the 4 major city regions there is also a need for a broader overview. Councils not involved in city region plans should include a concise explanation of their strategy in their development plans.

    Question 5: Do you agree that strategic development plans should be prepared only for the 4 largest city regions? What should the boundaries of these areas be?

    Proposal: that strategic development plans should only be prepared for the 4 largest city regions and their hinterlands. Defining the appropriate areas would involve consideration of information from the 2001 Census and changes in travel to work and housing market areas. In National Parks, the National Park Plan, which requires the approval of Ministers, was proposed as the vehicle for dealing with strategic planning issues.

    Response:

    In favour

    43%

    Opposed

    29%

    Mixed views

    28%

    Conclusion: We intend to adopt this proposal. The Scottish Ministers will prescribe those local authorities that will be required to work jointly to prepare city region plans, but the boundaries of the area to be covered by each plan will be for the Councils to agree.

    It is recognised that Inverness and Stirling both have city status. However, the Executive is of the view that planning issues can be dealt with within their own Council area. In other areas, such as Ayrshire, there are clear benefits from joint working ranging from information collection and sharing through to action on transport or environmental improvement. Councils can draw on this in their plans but we do not believe that there is a requirement for two tiers of development plan.

    Question 6: Do you agree that joint committees be set up to oversee the preparation of strategic development plans?

    Proposal : that there should be a statutory requirement to establish a joint committee to oversee the preparation of the strategic development plan and that a dedicated team be appointed to this task.

    Response:

    In favour

    72%

    Opposed

    10%

    Mixed views

    18%

    Conclusion: We intend to adopt this proposal.

    Question 7: Do you agree that strategic development plans should concentrate on a limited number of strategic issues and that they should not restate national policy?

    Proposal: that structure plans should be more focused and action oriented, concentrating on employment, housing and transport; and should have a stronger spatial component. Environmental factors were seen both as key inputs in identifying land for development and outputs in providing for the conservation of built and natural heritage resources. Where a joint committee disagrees with national planning policy, the strategic development plan should reflect this.

    Response:

    In favour

    67%

    Opposed

    5%

    Mixed views

    28%

    Conclusion: We intend to adopt this proposal. The Executive favours the issues being strictly focused on matters that are genuinely strategic in that they have a potential impact on the development of the city region.

    Question 8: Do you agree that strategic development plans should be site specific?

    Proposal : that Key Diagrams are not easy to use and do not generally provide an effective basis for consultation; that strategic development plans should take a long term perspective (15 years minimum) and should be site specific for strategic land releases (which could, for example, be housing sites of 100+ houses or business parks of 5+ hectares), priorities for regeneration and areas to be protected from development.

    Response:

    In favour

    56%

    Opposed

    33%

    Mixed views

    11%

    Conclusion: We intend to adopt this proposal. We do not, however, expect precise boundaries to be identified in city region plans. We recognise that the term "locationally specific" may be more appropriate than "site specific", and that the thresholds in the consultation paper were too low. The implications of this will be the subject of further discussion.

    Question 9: Do you agree that an action plan should be prepared as part of the strategic development plan and that it should be reviewed every two years as part of the process of monitoring and review?

    Proposal: that strategic development plans should contain an action plan setting out what should happen in respect of matters such as phasing of development, land acquisition infrastructure provision and preparation of development briefs. It should be reviewed every two years and set out actions for the following two years. It should be part of a monitoring statement which reviews the underlying assumptions on which the plan is based. A formal alteration to the plan should not normally be required.

    Response:

    In favour

    80%

    Opposed

    5%

    Mixed views

    15%

    Conclusion: We intend to adopt this proposal. Action Plans will be required for all development plans, not only City Region Plans. Producing Action Plans should improve the level of commitment to the plan by the other public and private sector bodies responsible for delivering much of the plan. This will require more effective engagement of, and by, these interests in the plan making process. While it will be a statutory requirement to include an Action Plan the intention is that it will not be formally approved by the Scottish Ministers, thus making updates (on a 2-yearly basis) simpler.

    Question 10: Do you agree that a public examination of objections should be made mandatory?

    Proposal : that there should be a statutory requirement to hold a public examination of strategic development plans where objections have not been withdrawn; that this would be organised by the relevant joint committee; and that the process should be less formal and intimidatory, perhaps taking the form of an exchange of views moderated by a Reporter.

    Response:

    In favour

    65%

    Opposed

    8%

    Mixed views

    20%

    Conclusion: We intend to adopt this proposal. A forthcoming consultation paper on Streamlining Inquiries will indicate how such examinations might best be conducted. Our current thinking is that the report of the Inquiry will be binding on the joint committee and the constituent authorities unless they indicate to the contrary within a prescribed period.

    Question 11: Do you agree that the Scottish Ministers should issue a certificate of conformity with national policy rather than formally approve structure plans as at present?

    Proposal : that following the public examination, the joint committee would draw up a list of proposed modifications and submit them to the Scottish Ministers, who, if they were satisfied that the plan was consistent with national policy would issue a certificate of conformity. This process should take no longer than 3 months. Ministers would direct what action was required to secure conformity, or accept that, exceptionally, circumstances justified nonconformity. Where constituent councils of a joint committee could not agree, their separate proposals would be submitted to the examination, and failure to agree on the Reporters recommendations would involve referral to the Scottish Ministers whose decision would be final.

    Response:

    In favour

    57%

    Opposed

    18%

    Mixed views

    25%

    Conclusion: We do not intend to adopt this proposal. Ministerial approval makes the status of the plan clearer than would a certificate of conformity. The intention remains that the Scottish Ministers will not get involved in minor modifications and will work to a 3 month target for approving city region plans.

    Question 12: Do you support the arrangements for monitoring set out in paragraph 36 of the consultation document?

    Proposal: that there would be merit in taking stock of progress with the strategy and the action plan every two years, and that before the end of five years from the issue of a certificate of conformity the joint committee must decide, having sought the views of stakeholders, whether to formally review the plan.

    Response:

    In favour

    90%

    Opposed

    2%

    Mixed views

    7%

    Conclusion: We intend to adopt this proposal.

    Question 13: Do you agree that, outwith the 4 city regions, there is no need for two tiers of development planning?

    Proposal : that in the 4 city regions, there should be 2 tiers of development plan, a strategic development plan and a local development plan, which together would comprise the statutory development plan for the area. The local development plan should conform to the strategic development plan and only in exceptional circumstances should matters examined at the examination of the strategic development plan be reopened in the context of the local development plan examination. Elsewhere, there should be a single tier plan, to be known as the development plan. The council area could be covered by one or more such plans.

    Response:

    In favour

    50%

    Opposed

    24%

    Mixed views

    26%

    Conclusion: We intend to adopt this proposal. As indicated earlier we recognise that all development plans may have a concise strategic component. In addition, the Executive intends that in National Parks the strategic planning component should be part of the National Park Plan.

    Question 14: Do you think that there should be a requirement for councils to submit a development plan scheme for the agreement of the Scottish ministers?

    Proposal : that each council should prepare and submit to the Scottish Ministers for approval a scheme for development planning for their area, including the timetable within which the Plan(s) shall be prepared. The Scottish Ministers would aim to respond within 2 months of receipt.

    Response:

    In favour

    68%

    Opposed

    13%

    Mixed views

    19%

    Conclusion: We intend to adopt this proposal in part. The Executive will require that development plan schemes are prepared and submitted for information - rather than for Ministerial approval.

    Question 15: Do you agree that the processes for drawing up development plans and local development plans should be similar to the procedures for strategic development plans?

    Proposal: that the processes of preparation and review for all statutory development plans should be broadly similar and include:

    • strong emphasis on community involvement
    • targeted consultation with key players
    • provision for public examination
    • certificate of conformity with national policy from Scottish Ministers
    • provision for revalidation

    Development plans and local development plans should be more comprehensive in their coverage of subjects than the strategic development plan but they should not seek to cover every eventuality. Local Plans should contain a section on the action that will follow approval and this should be rolled forward every two years.

    Response:

    In favour

    54%

    Opposed

    11%

    Mixed views

    31%

    Conclusion: We intend to adopt this proposal in part. There are a number of issues to be addressed in considering how best to accelerate plan making and approval. We are embarking on pilot projects with South Lanarkshire Council and The Highland Council to inform our thinking. In addition to the pilot projects we recognise the need to capture the views of other stakeholders about how plan preparation can be streamlined.

    The adoption of an open and inclusive approach to plan preparation will be crucial to ensuring that development plans are a focus of attention for local communities. We will also take account of the forthcoming findings of our recent consultation exercise Getting Involved in Planning.

    We will also have to address transitional arrangements and issues relating to timetabling and conformity. We will conduct further discussions with planning authorities and other stakeholders.

    Question 16: Do you agree that more use should be made of supplementary guidance?

    Proposal : that greater use should be made of both model policies and supplementary guidance. The latter would cover matters such as design guidance, development briefs, and masterplans for areas of intensive change. It was considered that these could be more focused and quickly prepared with appropriately tailored consultation arrangements. The weight placed on such guidance would depend upon the relevance and precision of the arguments led.

    Response:

    In favour

    81%

    Opposed

    7%

    Mixed views

    11%

    Conclusion: We intend to adopt this proposal. However, the Executive believes that the relevance of such guidance to decision making depends on the extent of consultation in preparing the guidance and whether it has been kept up to date.

    Question 17: Do you agree that Waste Subject Plans should be drawn up and that their boundaries should be aligned with Area Waste Plans?

    Proposal: that land and other facilities for waste should be handled in future by Waste Subject Plans separate from development plans. There were concerns that the current approach was proving problematical and that some of these problems could be addressed by aligning the boundaries of Waste Subject Plans with Area Waste Plans.

    Response:

    In favour

    40%

    Opposed

    40%

    Mixed views

    20%

    Conclusion: We do not propose to adopt this proposal. We acknowledge that there are difficult issues to resolve but have concluded that Area Waste Plans must set out clearly the spatial and land use implications of their proposals and that development plans must then address and resolve these issues.

    Question 18: Do you agree that a period of stability is now required in respect of the strategic planning policy framework for opencast coal? In the case of aggregates, strategic planning arrangements will be informed by the current review of NPPG 4.

    Proposal : that planning for minerals must distinguish between opencast coal and aggregates as the distribution of the resources, markets served and issues raised were different. In relation to opencast coal, given that NPPG 16 was issued in 1999, a period of stability was now considered necessary. NPPG 4 on Aggregates was published in 1994 and was under review. It was suggested that this should inform the approach to strategic planning for aggregates in the future.

    Response:

    In favour

    54%

    Opposed

    19%

    Mixed views

    27%

    Conclusion: The Executive is considering the report of the Transport and the Environment Committee investigation on opencast coal. As far as aggregates are concerned, the recent research The Review of NPPG4: Land for Mineral Working will be published shortly.

    NEXT STEPS

    Publication of the Executive's conclusions on the Review of our Strategic Plan marks an important step in delivering our commitment to modernising the planning system. The conclusions outline the general shape and structure of the development planning system but there remains a great deal of detailed work to be done to identify the implications for primary and secondary legislation, procedures and practice.

    We will be taking this forward during 2002 through:-

    • revising of National Planning Policy Guideline 1: The Planning System as Scottish Planning Policy 1;
    • publishing Scottish Planning Policy 2 and 3 on Economic Development and Housing;
    • commencing work on a national planning framework;
    • working with The Highland Council and South Lanarkshire Council on local plans;
    • continuing our dialogue with local authority heads of planning, the Royal Town Planning Institute in Scotland and other stakeholders such as business, community and environmental interests; and
    • focusing more sharply on development planning in audits of local authority planning services.

    There are also parallel work streams; in particular, Getting Involved in Planning on which we hope to announce conclusions in the autumn and Streamlining Inquiries about which we expect a consultation paper to be issued in late summer.

    Implementation of some of the conclusions to the various reviews will require primary legislation and, subject to competing priorities, we hope to introduce a Planning Bill in the next Parliament. But modernising the planning system involves significantly more than the legislative reform required to give effect to these conclusions. Having a planning system fit for the 21 st century will only be achieved if this reform is accompanied by:-

    • focusing more sharply on what the planning system can deliver;
    • improving the management of plan preparation and approval;
    • providing better justification of land allocations, policies and priorities; and
    • putting greater emphasis on delivery and outcomes.

    These are major challenges for all those involved in planning policy and decision making but it is important that collectively we rise to these challenges so that the planning system can play a full part in improving the quality of life for the people of Scotland.

    ANNEX INDICATIVE PROGRAMME for review of CURRENT NPPG SERIES

    This annex lists the suggested planning policy themes and sets out an indicative programme for their review or updating and publication as Scottish Planning Policies (SPPs). Figures in brackets are the existing NPPG or circular numbers:

    2002

    The Planning System (1) updated
    (major review later, linked to Planning Bill and legislative changes)
    Economic Development (2)
    Planning for Housing (3)
    West Edinburgh Planning Framework

    2003

    Flooding (7)
    Opencast Coal (16) (Subject to recommendations of the Transport & the Environment Committee)

    2004

    Mineral Working (4)
    Town Centres and Retailing (8)
    Transport (17) incorporating The Provision of Roadside Facilities on Motorways and Other Trunk Roads (9)
    Rural Development (15) incorporating Sport and Recreation in Rural Areas (11) and Skiing Developments (12)

    2005

    Built Heritage replacing Archaeology (5) and Historic Environment (18)
    Sport/Open Space/Recreation (11)
    Green Belts (circular 24/85)

    2006

    Renewable Energy Developments (6)
    Waste Treatment and Disposal (10)
    Radio Telecommunications (19)
    Natural Heritage (14) and Coastal Planning (13)