Local Development Plan (LDP 2)
The council is preparing a new Local Development Plan (LDP 2) to replace the current Local Development Plan which was adopted in 2018. The new plan will guide future development within West Lothian for a ten-year period starting from when it is adopted, notionally in 2026.
A Local Development Plan sets out policies and proposals for the future development and use of land. It seeks to identify the most appropriate locations for new development while at the same time protecting the places people value or which are environmentally sensitive. Once adopted it becomes the basis for assessing and determining applications for planning permission.
There has been a statutory requirement to review a local development plan (LDP) every 5 years, but recent changes to legislation will have the effect of changing that to every 10 years.
It is West Lothian Council's intention to replace the existing West Lothian Local Development Plan (LDP 1) which was adopted in September 2018 with a new plan, LDP 2. This will set out how West Lothian could grow over a ten-year period.
The council will undertake the preliminary preparation of LDP 2 in 2022, all within the context of a new regulatory regime introduced by The Planning (Scotland) 2019 Act which makes substantive changes to the process for preparing development plans in Scotland and with the overarching aim of making them more effective, with greater community involvement and more focus on delivery.
Planning reform in Scotland
The Scottish Government has stated that a high-quality planning system is essential to securing the creation of quality places with the homes, infrastructure and investment that people need and it is committed to improve Scotland's planning system in order to strengthen the contribution planning can make to inclusive growth, to delivering housing and infrastructure, to addressing climate change and to sustaining, supporting and empowering communities.
Reform is ongoing and will affect the future preparation and timescale of all future local development plans in Scotland, including the second West Lothian Local Development Plan.
The development plan process is central to the planning system and all planning authorities are legally required to prepare a Local Development Plan (LDP) for their area.
How planning reform affects the preparation of future Local Development Plans
The most significant changes of note include:
- increasing the time period for replacing development plans from 5 to 10 years;
- removing provisions which allowed statutory Supplementary Guidance to form part of the development plan;
- merging Scottish Planning Policy (SPP) into the new National Planning Framework (NPF4);
- incorporating NPF4 as part of the Development Plan;
- removing the requirement to prepare strategic development plans but introducing a new obligation for planning authorities to act together to prepare 'Regional Spatial Strategies' (RSS)
- introducing the potential for community bodies to prepare new "Local Place Plans" which will set out proposals for the development or use of land in particular areas.
National Planning Framework (NPF)
The National Planning Framework (NPF) is authored by the Scottish Government and sets out a long-term spatial strategy for the development of Scotland as a whole and identifies what Scottish Ministers consider to be development priorities. The current NPF3 was published in 2014 but is scheduled to be replaced in 2022 and will cover the time period up to 2045. However, the adoption of what will be NPF4 will ultimately be dependent on parliamentary progress.
Significantly, NPF4 will incorporate Scottish Planning Policy (SPP) which contains detailed national policy on a number of planning topics and for the first time spatial and thematic planning policies will be addressed in one place.
NPF4 has also been made the new vehicle for identifying the housing land requirements for LDPs, taking over this role from the soon to be abolished SDPs.
Regional Spatial Strategies (RSS)
The preparation and adoption of Regional Spatial Strategies (RSS) will provide long term spatial development frameworks at regional level which will identify strategic development needs and priorities. While they will not form part of the development plan, they must be taken account of when an LDP is being prepared. West Lothian Council has worked collaboratively with SESplan/City Deal partner authorities to prepare an indicative RSS and this was submitted to Scottish Government at the end of 2021 to help inform the emerging NPF4. You can viewed the Regional Spatial Strategy here
Implications for LDP 2 production
Many of the features of the new development planning system require secondary legislation and additional guidance to give greater clarity as to how they will work. While secondary legislation to enable implementation of the new Act has begun to come forward (and with some sections of the Act already commenced) much of the guidance has been delayed, due in part to the Coronavirus pandemic, and they are now not expected to be in place until the early part of 2022. The Scottish Government is progressing a detailed work programme which will implement the new Planning Act and which can be viewed here.
It is therefore anticipated that the timescale for the preparation of the next West Lothian Local Development Plan (LDP 2) may have to change during the course of 2022 in response to a range of external factors and which may be beyond the control of the council. In the meantime, it is the intention to formally commence the preparation of the new West Lothian LDP as quickly as possible after NPF4 has been finalised and approved by the Scottish Parliament.
Under the new regulatory arrangements introduced by the Planning (Scotland) Act 2019, there are 6 key stages involved in the local development plan making process.
1. Evidence Report
The first formal stage is the Evidence Report. It requires to be approved by the council and submitted to Scottish Ministers in advance of preparing the Proposed Plan. The Evidence Report will set out information on the work that has been carried out on a range of factors including the housing, health and education needs of the area with the intention of ensuring that the Plan is built on a clear and evidenced understanding of the planning needs of West Lothian. Preparation of the Evidence Report will also be the new focus of community engagement.
Engagement activities allied to the Evidence Report will in time include:
- awareness raising through email 'mailshots' to customers and those on our contact database;
- publication online for consultation and making available physical copies at libraries and council offices;
- publication of press notices to inform stakeholders how, where and when document may be viewed;
- engagement with Community Councils and Key Agency Groups;
- engagement and feedback from scheduled public events and social media activity; and
- tailored consultation activities to seek views of those groups named in the Planning (Scotland) Act 2019 in relation to preparation of Evidence Reports (i.e. disabled persons, Gypsies and Travellers, children and young people).
Notification of public engagement events will be made on this webpage when appropriate.
2. The Gatecheck
The Evidence Report is to be approved by the council and assessed by a representative of the Scottish Ministers (a Reporter from the Scottish Government's Planning and Appeals Division, DPEA) who will determine whether it contains sufficient information and whether key matters have been considered and engagement and consultation requirements have been met.
This process is known as the 'gatecheck'.
Following a successful sign off of the Evidence Report by Scottish Ministers the council will be given authority to publish and consult upon its Proposed Local Development Plan. However if the If the Evidence Report is not considered satisfactory a revised Evidence Report will require to be re-submitted to Scottish Ministers and approved before the council will be allowed to proceed with its preparation of a draft LDP.
It should be noted that the 'gatecheck' procedure does not replace the need for formal examination of the plan itself, that remains, but through early consideration of the evidence base for the plan it is expected that the potential for delay at later stages can be reduced.
As the relevant sections of the Act governing the new development plan process have not yet been commenced, and guidance for the new process and the associated regulations will not be in place until 2022, it is anticipated that the council will not be in a position to produce its Evidence Report until the later part of 2023.
3. Draft Proposed Plan and consultation
The Proposed Plan is to be prepared, approved and published alongside the Evidence Report and will at that point represent the council's settled view on the policies and proposals that it intends to adopt.
The Proposed Plan will then be consulted on, and depending on the outcome of the consultation, the council may make further modifications to the draft Proposed Plan before submitting to Scottish Ministers. Any unresolved representations are however to be considered by an independent planning reporter as part of an examination of the plan that would follow.
The examination process is conducted by a representative of the Scottish Ministers (a Reporter from the Scottish Government's Planning and Appeals Division, DPEA). Due to the earlier 'gatecheck' the examination is not expected to be a lengthy process and is to focus on unresolved issues, specifically any remaining areas of disagreement between the Planning Authority's proposals and the views of parties who have made representations.
The DPEA Reporter can require modifications to be made to the Proposed Plan, and in circumstances where the amount of land allocated for housing is deemed to be insufficient, there are provisions for the council (as planning authority) to be instructed to prepare a completely new Local Development Plan.
Once the examination is complete, and any changes have been incorporated, the Plan can be adopted by the council. This is when it becomes a formal part of the development plan and the current Local Development Plan (LDP 1) will be revoked.
6. Delivery Programme
The focus of the plan should be on delivery. As such, the planning authority is required to produce a Delivery Programme which is detailed and practical and leads to development on the ground. The Delivery Programme will be published alongside the Evidence Report and the Proposed Plan. The council, as planning authority, must monitor the implementation of the delivery programme to determine whether commitments in the LDP are being met.
Other matters arising from the Planning (Scotland) Act 2019
Local Place Plan (LPPs)
One of the most notable innovations introduced by the 2019 Planning Act has been to afford community bodies a new way to feed into the planning system by giving them a right to prepare 'Local Place Plans'.
They area new type of plan giving people an opportunity to develop proposals for the development and use of land in the place where they live and Schedule 19 of the 2019 Act sets out in broad terms the requirements for Local Place Plans.
Local Place Plans are to be community-led and prepared through inclusive and robust community engagement. They will quite intentionally not be council authored documents and the council will not be administering their preparation and production.
There is potential for any 'community body' to prepare and submit a Local Place Plan to West Lothian Council. This includes but is not limited to established Community Councils. The Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015 sets out the legal definition of a community-controlled body.
Planning Aid Scotland (PAS) has produced a guide intended as a helpful resource for any community group looking to prepare a Local Place Plan. The suggested approach outlined in the publication is however not intended to be prescriptive. Every effort should be made to adapt any recommendations to local setting and needs. In recognising that that every place is different it is not unreasonable to assume that every Local Place Plan will also be different.
While LPPs will not be part of the statutory development plan they are intended to stimulate and encourage debate in local communities about the future of a place, and when preparing an LDP planning authorities are mandated to take account of any registered LPP for the area to which the LDP relates in a way that is compatible with all other Plan requirements.
A register of Local Place Plans is to be established and will be hosted on this site. A link will be created here in due course.
Planning Circular 1/2022: Local Place Plans provides guidance to communities and planning authorities on the preparation, submission and registration of Local Place Plans.
More detailed information and guidance on Local Place Plans can be found here.
Establishment of a register of interest in self-build housing
Self and custom build housing is defined as homes built or commissioned by individuals or groups of individuals for their own use. Scottish Government is keen to encourage greater self-build opportunities and the new Act introduces a requirement on the council to prepare, maintain and publish a list of people who have registered that they are interested in acquiring land in the area for self-build housing and the council is to have regard to this list in preparing the LDP.
If you are interested in self-build you will be able to add your details to a new register which is to be established and will be hosted on this site. A link will be created here in due course.
Keeping You Informed
The early stages of preparing LDP 2 will involve information gathering and research but will in time be expanded to include engagement with communities, key agencies (such as Historic Environment Scotland, Nature Scot and Scottish Water), developers, land owners and other interested parties. Engagement will of course always require to be informed by and have regard to the prevailing public health situation at the time.
In the meantime you can keep up to date with the Local Development Plan progress by regularly visiting this webpage and by subscribing to our contact mailing list. To register, click firstname.lastname@example.org and enter 'LDP 2 - PARTICIPATE' in the subject line of the email that opens up. Then enter your name, email/postal address and phone number in the body of the email and press 'send'. Receipt will be acknowledged within 3 working days and you will be provided with a copy of the council's data sharing privacy notice.
Your details will remain on the LDP 2 contact mailing list until the adoption of LDP 2 after which they will be removed. Please ensure you complete your contact details accurately. Please also be aware that it is your responsibility to notify us if your details change. You can do this at any time by emailing email@example.com
NB: If you have already subscribed to be included on our contact mailing list since September 2018 you will not need to subscribe again. Key Agencies and Community Councils are also not required to subscribe as the council already holds these details.
If you have any questions specifically relating to the preparation of LDP 2 please email the Development Planning & Environment team at firstname.lastname@example.org Alternatively, you can write to us at: Development Planning & Environment, Civic Centre, Howden South Road, Livingston, West Lothian, EH54 6FF.
This page last updated: March 2022