The Planning etc (Scotland) Act 2006 and associated secondary legislation provide enhanced opportunities for people to get involved in the planning system. In addition to guidance in Circulars 1/2009 and 4/2009 and the advice provided in PAN 3/2010: Community Engagement, the Scottish Government's policy on community engagement in the planning system is set out in Scottish Planning Policy (SPP). It sets out that:
- Community Engagement must be meaningful and proportionate;
- Community Engagement must happen at an early stage to influence the shape of plans and proposals; and
- It is essential for people or interest groups to get involved in the preparation of development plans as this is the place where decisions on the strategy, for growth or protection, are made.
At different points in the planning process, the focus for communities will be engagement with different organisations. When development plans and supplementary guidance are being prepared, community engagement will be mainly with the planning authority. During pre-application consultation, the engagement will be between the community and the prospective applicant. When an application for planning permission has been submitted the focus for engagement is between communities and the planning authority.
In 2009 new development planning legislation brought in two major changes in community engagement in the development planning process.
Development plans will go through two stages of community engagement. First planning authorities must seek views on a Main Issues Report, then they will invite formal representations on a Proposed Plan. Neighbours of significant proposals in Proposed Plans will be directly notified by the planning authority.
Every year each planning authority publishes a Development Plan Scheme which sets the timetable for plan preparation. The Scheme must include a Participation Statement, which sets out how and when people can get involved in plan preparation. These can be found on Council's websites.
There is a legal requirement for developers to consult communities on applications for national and major developments. National developments are set out in the National Planning Framework and major developments defined in legislation.
The aim of pre-application consultation (PAC) is for communities to be better informed about major and national development proposals and to have an opportunity to contribute their views before a formal planning application is submitted to the planning authority. The aim is to improve the quality of planning applications, mitigate negative impacts where possible, address misunderstandings, and air and deal with any community issues that can be tackled.
As part of the wider work on modernising the planning system, the Scottish Government has been investigating how PAC has been operating in practice. The output of the June 2010 Development Management Forum which brought together parties involved in PAC is available here. A summary report of the Government's review of the changes, introduced in August 2009, to the development management, appeals and enforcement regimes is also available.
The other changes to the development management system as they relate to community engagement are listed below:
- New information requirements - More information on, and availability of, lists of applications plus revised planning registers. Planning authorities to set out how they have come to their decision in a Report of Handling and those making representations being advised of the decision.
- The use of on site notices to inform the community more effectively about major works taking place following planning permission
You can find more information in Circular 4/2009 and on the Development Management page.
Also Worth Seeing
Planning Aid Scotland has produced a Community Engagement Tool for land use planning in Scotland
It can assist authorities, prospective applicants and communities in understanding, planning and evaluating community engagement activities
Scottish Planning =Effective Engagement and Delivery.