As part of the ongoing review of the Scottish planning system earlier this year RTPI Scotland produced a series of thinkpieces aimed at providing workable solutions to supplement the proposals made by Scottish Government in its consultation paper, Places, People and Planning. One of these thinkpieces tackled how Local Place Plans (LPPs) could be made to work in practice.
Kate Houghton, Policy and Practice Officer at RTPI Scotland, outlines how the Institute hopes LPPs will contribute to a more positive and proactive system.
Local Place Plans – Key Principle
All communities would have the right to initiate a community led planning process subject to meeting specified but succinct criteria. The Scottish Government has acknowledged that in a time of severe resource constraint for local authorities, care will need to be taken about how officer time and other support is allocated to support LPP preparation
We envisage two scenarios in which LPPs could be prepared, which would prioritise those areas most likely to benefit from having an LPP:
- Priority areas as identified through Community Planning in Local Outcome Improvement Plans (LOIPs)
- Areas outlined for major change by the relevant Local Development Plan (LDP). This would help communities to shape major development, especially through the master planning process.
The Government has made clear that it wants the process for preparing LPPs to be as flexible as possible, to account for the diversity of Scotland’s communities. RTPI Scotland is sympathetic to this intention but to ensure that the new system is as accessible to as many people as possible, some clarity will be needed. We have suggested that before LPPs are introduced further research should examine:
- the criteria to be met to establish a ‘community’ for the purposes of preparing local place plans, and in particular what will happen if two ‘communities’ in one location wish to prepare an LPP;
- the cycle and timescale for the preparation, monitoring and review of LPPs, taking into consideration the differing cycles of community and spatial planning systems;
- the process for the approval of LPPs;
- the guidance and technical support required; and
- the options for resourcing including the increased sharing of services such as Community Planning, education, community education and spatial planning.
Introducing a new tier of spatial plan would create a series of important new responsibilities. For LPPs to be effective in their delivery of the new development that their advocates support the location and scope of these responsibilities will need to be clear, and resourced, from the outset.
Key responsibilities identified include:
- Community Planning Partnerships – co-ordinating community engagement processes with the planning authority and promoting and facilitating the preparation of community led LPPs
- planning authorities – with a duty to liaise with the Community Planning Partnership on community engagement to inform LOIPs, Locality Plans (LPs), LDPs and strategic planning
- ‘communities’ (to be defined in the secondary legislation) – with duty to notify the Community Planning Partnership of intention to prepare an LPP and subsequently submit into, in accordance with secondary legislation, advice and guidance
LPPs would be part of a network of strategies: LOIPs, LPs and LDPs. The Scottish Government has confirmed that if LPPs are to be given statutory status, this would be as further detail sitting in the framework of the relevant LDP. The thinkpiece proposes a statutory and reciprocal link between community planning and spatial planning, creating a feedback loop between community plans, development plans and regional strategies. This would ensure that all stakeholders have meaningful input into the spatial planning process with a share of the responsibilities, whilst managing expectations and conveying constraints.
Critical to this thinkpiece is implementing proposals that provide the most effective and efficient use of resource. Local government resources are stretched, and this proposal would require extra resource at an earlier stage in the engagement process. However, the ideas here are intended to reduce costs and delays at later stages, lessening recurring conflicts often experienced in the spatial planning process. Better community involvement could also improve planning outcomes, and therefore the economic value added of development.
RTPI Scotland has chosen to specify scenarios in which LPPs could be prepared to reflect the need to distribute scarce resources as fairly as possible. We believe that support for preparing LPPs should focus on:
- facilitating and supporting communities, including innovative engagement and facilitation methods, especially to involve seldom heard and young people;
- creating a central advice hub, which could contain elements of a ‘self-help’ service;
- national advice and guidance in the preparation of LPPs should be prepared for Local Authorities and Community Planning Partnerships.