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Local Place Plans

Guidance and Register

Local Place Plans have been introduced to encourage communities to be more active participants in planning for their futures. 

Local Place Plans (LPPs)

The Scottish Government has recognised that communities are well placed to express their aspirations for the future of their local places and can play an active role in informing the next iteration of Local Development Plans (LDPs).

Changes to the planning system in Scotland have been introduced to encourage and empower communities to take a more pro-active role in defining the future of their places and to improve engagement in the delvelopment planning process more generally by strengthening the links between individuals, communities and the planning of the area where people live.

One of the key innovations has been the coming into force of Section 14 of the Planning (Scotland) Act 2019 in as much as it amends the The Town & Country Planning (Scotland)Act 1997 to introduce a new right for communities to produce Local Place Plans which are an integral element of the Scottish Government's wider programme of planning reform. They introduce a new type of community led plan, one which gives community bodies the opportunity to make their "place" better, identify issues, gather ideas, agree priorities and express aspirations for the future development and use of land in their locality with a view to making change happen. It is anticpated that communities will work collaboratively to reach a shared view on how an area should change in the future.

While Local Place Plans will not themselves be an integral part of the development plan, they will nevertheless have a statutory role in shaping the planning process. They will require to be taken account of by the council when it is preparing the next LDP and the council will have to demonstrate how Local Place Plans have influenced the process.

Legislation introducing Local Place Plans came into force in January 2022 and the Scottish Government's Planning Circular 1/2022: Local Place Plans provides guidance for both planning authorities and communities on the preparation, submission and registration of Local Place Plans. It is commended as the most comprehensive source of guidance on the preparation of Local Place Plans available at this time.

However not all parts of the Act are yet in force. In particular, Sections 14(2) relating to the planning authority's 'invitation to prepare' Local Place Plans and sections 14(4) and (6) relating to the taking into account of registered Local Place Plans in the Local Development Plan are dependent on secondary legislation and new Local Development Plan regulations and associated guidance being approved by the Scottish Parliament and brought into force. Realistically, this is not likely to be before the end of 2022.

Frequently Asked Questions

These FAQs are intended to inform and to assist communities decide if they want to prepare a Local Place Plan, and if so, how best to go about it.

(1) What is the relationship of Local Place Plans to the Local Development Plan?

Development Plan

The Town and Country Planning (Scotland) Act 1997, as amended by the Planning (Scotland) Act 2019, has ushered in new arrangements for development plan preparation in Scotland.

The statutory 'Development Plan' for every place in Scotland will be comprised of two elements: (1) the National Planning Framework (NPF), produced by Scottish Government and applicable to all of the country and (2) the Local Development Plan (LDP) prepared by the council and relating to it's defined area.  Together, these documents will set out the strategy, policies and proposals which will help manage new development.

It is important to remember that Local Place Plans are not part of the Development Plan. The intention is instead that they should help to inform the preparation of the next Local Development Plan, the LDP, which is one of the two components of the Development Plan.

The Fourth National Planning Framework for Scotland (NPF4) is at an advanced stage of preparation and there is an expectation that the finalised version will be published before the end of 2022 with the likely prospect of it being adopted and brought into force shortly thereafter.

There is no specific requirement in the legislation governing the preparation of Local Place Plans for them to be consistent with other plans, but in the preparation of Local Place Plans, community bodies must have regard to the current Local Development Plan and the National Planning Framework. This means that while they don't have to accord with these documents, there does nevertheless need to be a reasoned justification provided for anything that is contrary to what those plans propose. 

By the same measure, there is no legal requirement for a new Local Development Plan to follow the provisions of a Local Place Plan but it must 'take account' of Local Place Plans and the council will be required to demonstrate how Local Place Plans have influenced the new Local Development Plan.

 

Local Place Plan Timetable

This diagram shows the main stages of preparing the new West Lothian Local Development Plan, LDP 2.

Timetable for LPP

The first stage requires the council to produce an 'Evidence Report' which acts as the basis for preparing the plan before it is examined by an independent 'Gate Check'.

Following on from that, the 'Proposed Plan' is drafted and consulted on. If there are any unresolved objections it will require to be subjected to a further examination process before it can be adopted.

This diagram shows that Local Place Plans can be prepared at any time, but they are quite clearly most able to inform the new Local Development Plan that is under preparation if they are submitted to the council before the 'Proposed Plan is drafted. To achieve that, it is tentatively being suggested that Summer 2024 would be a reasonable target date for communities wanting to prepare Local Place Plans to provisionally work towards in order for the council to have sufficient time to consider and assess proposals.

While the council previously published a provisional timetable for the preparation of the Local Development Plan in March 2022  (Development Plan Scheme DPS No.14) it is likely that because of the delays that have subsequently occurred with the development plan regulations, guidance, and more significantly the publication and adoption of National Planning Framework 4, the timetable for the preparation of LDP 2 may have to be adjusted. In that event, any changes will also be publicised and communicated to community councils as early as possible given how this could impact on the preparation of Local Place Plans.

 

(2) Why might a community want to prepare a Local Place Plan?

Communities can already participate in all parts of the planning system, including the ability to comment on live planning applications and being consulted through their community council for an input into the next Local Development Plan. This will continue to be the case and Local Place Plans are not intended to replace these opportunities. They will instead complement them.

The process of preparing a Local Place Plan give communities the opportunity to come together, to engage and help shape their future and influence the appearance the form and function of the places in which they live and to provide a framework for actions to be delivered by the community itself. Local Place Plans can raise awareness, identify site specific and planning related issues that are important to a local community and explore what actions can be taken by the council as local planning authority to improve them.

They can also assist the council, Community Planning Partners (CPP) and other funding bodies to better understand local issues and where to target investment and services.

Significantly, Local Place Plans have been given a statutory role in the planning process, particularly with regard to the preparation of the next Local Development Plan.

 

(3) Who can prepare Local Place Plans?

It's important to be aware that LPPs are not prepared or authored by West Lothian Council. They 100% belong to the community and must instead be prepared by either a community council or a 'community-controlled body'.

Community councils were introduced through the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973. They are well established in West Lothian and cover the vast majority of communities. Further information relating to functioning community councils and their respective boundaries can be found here on the council's website. 

The definition of a 'community-controlled body' is a precise legal one and is given in section 19 of the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015. If an organisation wishing to prepare a Local Place Plan is not currently constituted as a community-controlled body, it might want to consider becoming one, or perhaps working with an organisation which is already recognised as having this status.

 

Other requirements

Other fundamental requirements for preparing a Local Place Plan are that it must:

Some examples of what could be considered as development or use of land and which could legitimately be the subject of a Local Place Plan might include local initiatives for the promotion of active travel and community food growing, sites for housing (including for affordable housing), new or retained local employment, new tourism/community facilities and improvements in the public realm of town/neighbourhood centres.

At the same time it's also helpful to be aware of matters which would not normally be considered as development, for example litter management and dog fouling and improvements to public transport (routes and timetables). Local Place Plans are therefore unlikely to be the best way to seek improvement to services except where this would be related to the development or long term use of land and buildings.

The Development Planning & Environment team can be contacted if any clarification is required on potential subjects or issues that could be included in a LPP.

 

(4) Having decided to prepare a Local Place Plan, what are the key issues that need to be considered?

First and foremost it is important to establish that your community body is properly constituted as a 'community-controlled body' and meets the statutory criteria which enables it to prepare a Local Place Plan as defined by the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015.

It is also necessary to determine whether the community-controlled body has sufficient resources to develop a plan, (for example volunteer capacity and funding). Preparing a Local Place Plan is likely to require a significant commitment of time, effort and finance with costs depending on the approach taken, the scope, ambition and complexity of the plan. Establishing a working group and preparing a budget are some of the first key tasks that should be undertaken.

To act as a framework for collaborative working, the "How to Guide" (promoted by Scottish Government) suggests that the community body should establish a steering group which should involve all the important stakeholders within a community who need to be involved in preparing the Local Place Plan. It is also indicated that getting ready to prepare a LPP will probably take a minimum of 6 months and it suggests that it could take 12 months or more to create the plan.

Consideration should then be given to the intended scope of the Local Place Plan and the relationship to wider plans and strategies as well as considering the impact of issues such as land ownership on the practicalities of implementation.

It is important to be realistic about what a Local Place Plan will be able to achieve and to recognise that the preparation of Local Place Plans will not in themselves guarantee that all of the changes proposed will happen. While the intent is for Local Place Plans to have a strong and positive influence on Local Development Plans, and the optimum outcome would be for proposals to be reflected in the new Local Development Plan, there is no statutory obligation for Local Development Plans to adopt and incorporate the provisions of Local Place Plans. That said, Local Place Plans that can demonstrate a thorough preparation process, acknowledge wider strategies, are evidence based and command wide support are likely to stand a better prospect of achieving a positive assessment and influencing the next Local Development Plan.

 

(5) When can a Local Place Plan be prepared?

The key provisions in the Town & Country Planning (Scotland) Act 2019 relating to Local Place Plans came into force in January 2022 and there is therefore nothing to prevent community bodies from preparing a Local Place Plan now. The timing is entirely at the discretion of the community body.   

In due course, the council will formally invite local communities to prepare Local Place Plans and at that time it will identify the exact date by which they will require to be submitted, mindful that a reasonable period of time will be needed for communities to prepare Local Place Plans and for them to then be taken account of by the council prior to the finalisation of the  LDP 'Proposed Plan'. Invitations will be sent to community councils and details will be published on the LDP 2 web pageThe council currently intends to initiate this procedure after NPF4 has been finalised and brought into force and will likely co-ordinate this with the publication of a Participation Statement setting out proposals for wider public engagement on the new LDP.

 

(6) What assistance is available to communities wanting to prepare Local Place Plans?

Because Local Place Plans are by definition 'community led' plans, West Lothian Council cannot prepare Local Place Plans for communities.  

It's recognised that one of the biggest issues for communities is knowing what support and assistance might be available to them, and while the Town & Country Planning (Scotland) Act 2019 requires a Planning Authority to provide some support, it does not define how much or what type and it has been left to the discretion of each Planning Authority to provide support depending on the  resources available. It should be appreciated that the Scottish Government has not provided any additional funding to councils for this purpose.

The main way which the council can assist is to signpost sources of information and practical help and advise on the process and requirements for Local Place Plans.

In particular the council can identify:

  • the Local Development Plan for the land or any part of the land, to which the Local Place Plan relates;
  • the National Planning Framework;
  • development plan polcies relevant to the local area; and
  • whether there are any Locality Plans prepared by the council's community regeneration service and their partners (including community development trusts) to which a proposed Local Place Plan relates and the contact details for the relevant Community Planning Partnerships (CPPs).

Should there be any difficulty in sourcing or accesing these documents the Development Planning & Environment team will be happy to advise. 

When creating a Local Place Plan it's important to understand the existing assets of the area, such as the built and natural heritage. These can make a significant contribution to place, identity, health, education, culture, well-being, tourism and sustainability and the council is well placed to advise on these matters.

The council can help community bodies source plans and maps for their Local Place Plans, including Ordnance Survey mapping, using Open Street Map or Google Maps. However each of these options may have separate copyright or licencing requirements and this will be the responsibility of the community body to address.

Community bodies proposing to prepare a Local Place Plan will very likely be looking at the attendant costs and should be aware of a potential funding stream being made available by the Scottish Government. The Investing in Communities fund opened for applications in March/April 2022. Find out more here. Additionally, more detailed and up to date funding information can be obtained from Scotland's Towns Partnership.

Update - November 2022

The Community Map Scotland project is focused on helping Scottish Community Councils create their Local Place Plans. The software is initially provided free for 1 year for any Community Council group. Community Councils can sign up to be part of the Community Map Scotland project free by going to www.parish-online.co.uk/scotland and using the code cms12 when signing up.

 

(7) What boundaries can a Local Place Plan adopt?

Boundaries for Local Place Plans are not prescribed by the legislation but should nevertheless relate to a recognisable area or community. This can of course take many shapes and forms and could include:

  • whole or partial community council boundaries
  • whole towns or villages
  • neighbourhoods within towns and villages or
  • another geography a community self-defines itself by

Furthermore, while the legislation does not prevent multiple Local Place Plans being prepared for the same area, the Scottish Government encourages people and organisations considering preparing a Local Place Plan to work collaboratively and in a joined-up way where possible in order to avoid conflicts and a duplication of effort.

 

(8) What format should a Local Place Plan take?

A Local Place Plan should ideally be a short, clear and visual document which sets out the community body's proposals and priorities

There is however no standard approach to the format or content of a Local Place Plan and there is likely to be a wide variation depending on the characteristics and interests of each local community. Plans will however inevitably share some common elements.

Regardless of what boundary is adopted, it's a requirement that the Local Place Plan includes a map which identifies the land to which it relates, particularly as this will have implications for administrative matters relating to engagement with local authorities, councillors and adjoining community councils. It will also enable the council to fulfill it's obligation to plot the Local Place Plans it registers.

A Local Place Plan is also required to contain a written statement of the community body's proposals as to the development or use of land. It should be written in a way which avoids jargon and be as short and succinct as possible. It's recommended that it makes use of maps, photographs, diagrams and drawings to help communicate the main points but it is ultimately for the community body to decide how best to present proposals.

 

(9) What is the relationship between Local Place Plans and other existing community plans?

In West Lothian there are currently two tiers of community plans;

1. Local Improvement Plans (LOIPs) which cover the whole of the administrative area and is prepared under section 10 of the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015 

2. Local Community Plan (Locality Plans)

West Lothian Community Planning Partnership was established in 1999 and is an alliance of 21 partner organisations including the council, NHS Lothian, Scottish Enterprise, Police Scotland, West Lothian College and the West Lothian Forum of Community Council's to name but a few. It is now a mature strategic alliance which has demonstrated a strong sense of understanding of the priorities for West Lothian. In May 2016, the CPP Board agreed that what was the Single Outcome Agreement largely met the requirements of a Local Outcomes Improvement Pan set out in the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015, and formally adopted this as the LOIP. The LOIPs is the mechanism by which West Lothian's Community Planning Partnerships deliver improved outcomes for their communities.The current LOIP is under review and a new iteration is anticipated by the end of 2022.

Local Comunity Plans are at an area-level and sit beneath the LOIP. They cover those areas in the bottom 20% of the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation (SIMD), specifically Armadale, Bathgate, Blackburn, , Bridgend, Craigshill, Breich Valley (Fauldhouse, Stoneyburn, Addiewell, Polbeth), Livingston Central (Knightsridge, Ladywell, Dedridge) and Whitburn.

The council understand that for communities looking to improve their local area there may be a confusion about which plans they need to engage with and the relationship between plans. Longer term, the council intends exploring the options to rationalise and streamline these processes. In the meantime there is potentially a crossover between Local Place Plans and Local Community Plans and this could create efficiencies, reduce duplication and prioritise resources to areas where there could be particularly significant benefits for communities.

It is suggested that one of the first things a community body may want to do is to confirm with the Community Planning Partnership whether any existing Locality Plan covers the proposed area of any proposed Local Place Plan and explore what the implications of this might be.

 

(10) What if a community wishes to 're-badge' and submit an existing/recent plan as a Local Place Plan?

The Scottish Government has recognised that there may be existing community-led plans within planning authority areas which, while not  wholly compliant with the Local Place Plan requirements, do nonetheless provide a community vision for the development and use of land. In such a scenario the advice from Scottish Government to planning authorities is that they should be given due weight as expressions of the community's aspiration and that it may be possible to make use of such a plan as the basis for submission. The council would however need to consider any specific proposition on its merits and assess it against the wider context of the legislation and Scottish Government guidance as set out in Scottish Government Planning Circular 1/2022: Local Place Plans.

 

(11) What are the obligations on Community Bodies for consulting with the communites when preparing Local Place Plans?

The requirement for engagement in the preparation of Local Place Plans allows an element of flexibility and it is the case that regulations have been intentionally drafted by the Scottish Government to avoid being overly prescriptive so as not to discourage communities from preparing Local Place Plans. There are however some specific requirements to consult with community representatives, i.e. community councils and local councillors representing the area which the Local Place Plan relates to, and these must be observed.

The Development Planning & Environment team can provide community bodies with the most relevant and up to date contact details on request.

When submitting Local Place Plans for registration the community body will need to provide a statement demonstrating and evidencing what has been done in this regard.

While there is no statutory requirement for the community body to engage with its wider community the council will nevertheless expect a high degree of community engagement to inform new Local Place Plans and to be as inclusive as possible, ensuring that everyone in the affected community is made aware and has had an opportunity to be involved. The council commends the good-practice principles set out in the National Standards for Community Engagement to anyone proposing to prepare a Local Place Plan.

Community bodies are required to demonstrate that the Local Place Plan genuinely reflects the views of the community as a whole and must include a statement setting out its view of the level and nature of support for the Local Place Plan and the basis on which it has reached that view, including a description of any consultations in respect of the proposed Local Place Plan.

 

(12) What information/documents require to be submitted to the planning authority when submitting the completed Local Place Plan?

The community body is required to explain in a statement how it has, in preparing the Local Place Plan, had regard to:

  • the Local Development Plan for the Local Place Plan area;

  • the National Planning Framework; and

  • any Local Community Plan (Locality Plan) for the Local Place Plan area.

Though not a statutory requirement, the community body is encouraged to also refer to the range of other documents, for example Local Outcome Improvement Plans (LOIPs).

 

(13) What if a community doesn't want to prepare a Local Place Plan?  

A community may of course decide that a Local Place Plan just isn't for it, concluding that it may not be the best means of achieving the specific kinds of change it wants to see, and that's a perfectly legitimate position to adopt. To be clear, there is no obligation for a community to prepare a Local Place Plan. The decision to prepare one, or not, lies wholly with communities themselves and it's recognised that there are other ways for communities to achieve or influence change which they may prefer to pursue instead.

There are always opportunities to get involved directly in consultations on planning applications, strategies or projects. Details of planning applications that are received are sent to planning secretaries of community councils on a weekly basis and every registered planning application can be viewed here on the council's website and commented on by anyone wishing to do so.

Elsewhere on the website there is a dedicated page hosting the open consultations which all council services may be undertaking at any given time and which provides a point of access for individuals wanting to enage and participate.

The dedicated LDP 2 web page will also be used to announce and publicise consultation and engagement events that directly relate to the preparation of the next Local Development Plan. 

For some time there has been an opportunity for communities to produce a less formal 'Community Action Plan'. Community Action Plans and Local Place Plans share many of the same defining characteristics. Community Action Planning is a process through which communities have the opportunity to identify their own priorities and tackle the issues which are important to them. These plans do not have to follow the same legal requirements that apply to Local Place Plans and they might be better suited to addressing issues that don't relate to development and the use of land. These plans can however still be used to inform the Local Development Plan where they cover relevant issues.

Community groups can also make requests to become involved in improvements to public services by submitting a 'participation request'. Established by the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015 it gives communities additional rights, through having more say in how public services are planned and provided; owning or leasing land, assets and estates; and becoming involved in improving the outcomes of services. More information can be found here on the council's website.

 

The Local Place Plan Register

The statutory requirements on a community body when preparing and submitting a Local Place Plan are set out in the amended 1997 Act and in the Local Plan Regulations (Scotland) 2021.

Once a community body has prepared a Local Place Plan it should be submitted to the planning authority, preferably electronically, but a hard copy will be accepted if that is not possible. It is also recommended that the community body makes arrangements with the planning authority for a pre-submission discussion to agree practical matters such as contact details.

The 2021 Regulations require the council to establish, maintain and publish a register of Local Place Plans and to make information about them available so that people can see if there is a Local Place Plan in their area. Specifically, the register must contain a copy of the Local Place Plan and a copy of the information submitted alongside it.

For a Local Place Plan to be registered as valid it must comply with the very specific requirements set out in the legislation and which are more easily explained in Scottish Government Circular 1/2022 - Local Place Plans. 

Subject to these requirements being satisfied, the council is obliged to register the Local Place Plan and will issue the submitting body a receipt of acknowledgement.

It should be noted that it is not the role of the council as planning authority at the point of registration to assess the proposals contained within the Local Place Plan for their planning merit or deliverability. This will be done later and as part of the wider Local Development Plan process. However if the organisation is not properly constituted as a community body under the terms of the legislation, or if the information provided is incomplete, the council will be equally unable to register the Local Place Plan and in such circumstances it would advise the organisation making the submission that it was not valid and give its reasons for reaching that view.

Once a Local Place Plan has been registered the council is only permitted to remove it from the register in very specifc circumstances:

  • if the community body which prepared the Local Place Plan requests that the Local Place Plan is removed from the register; or

  • if the community body which prepared the Local Place Plan submits a subsequent Local Place Plan which the community body state is to replace or supersede the Local Place Plan.

 

 

 

Useful Links

  • National Standards for Community Engagement

  • Scottish Community Development Centre
  • "How to Guide" (Scottish Community Development Centre (SCDC) and Nick Wright Planning)  (Please be aware that this guidance predates legislation on Local Place Plans and is therefore not completely up to date. It is understood that the Scottish Government intends to update and re-issue the guidance but there is no known timetable for doing this). The guide also states that a council's community planning or community learning service area may be able to help with community engagement and developing organisations. It advises that depending on a community's aspirations, other council services are likely to be worth involving and that there may be grants or loans available. It does however make it clear that all council have limited resources and may therefore not be able to offer as much help as they would wish.

 

Legislation

The Planning (Scotland) Act 2019 provides the framework of the legislation for the dxelivery of Local Place Plans.

The Act is supported by the Town and Country Planning (Local Place Plans) (Scotland) Regulations 2021.

 

If you are considering preparing a Local Place Plan (and haven't previously advised us of your intent) we would very much appreciate hearing from your community council or a community body representative. 

We are keen to get a clearer understanding of the number of Local Place Plans that may be submitted in the lead up to the next Local Development Plan (LDP 2) in order to ensure that we have the necessary resources available for assessing and responding to them.

You can tell us about your proposed Local Place Plan by providing us with a brief description of the subject matter together with your organisations contact details, and you can also request clarification about any particular aspect of Local Place Plans by completing the Local Place Plan Enquiry/Notice of Interest form

Please be assured that by registering your interest it doesn't in any way commit you to submitting a Local Place Plan at a future date. If you subsequently decide not to proceed we would simply ask that you let us know in order for us to maintain up to date records. 

 

If you have any other questions relating to Local Place Plans, the preparation of LDP 2, or just want to provide feedback and comments on our service more generally, please email the Development Planning and Environment team at wlldp@westlothian.gov.uk. If you prefer, you can also write to us at Development Planning and Environment, West Lothian Civic Centre, Howden South Road, Livingston, West Lothian EH54 6FF.

This page was last updated: 29 November 2022