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Local Place Plans - Guidance and Register

Introduced by the Planning (Scotland) Act 2019 Local Place Plans are a new type of community led plan giving community bodies the opportunity to identify issues, gather ideas and express aspirations for the future development and use of land where they live.

Local Place Plans (LPPs)

Changes to the planning system in Scotland have been introduced to encourage more community participation in the planning process and specifically to strengthen the links between individuals, communities and the planning system.

One of the key innovations has been the introduction of Local Place Plans, or LPPs. They form part of the Government's wider work on planning reform and present local communities with an opportunity to prepare plans which set out proposals for the development and use of land in their particular locality. They're intended to provide a tool for communities to think about how to make their "place" better, agree priorities, and to make change happen.

Scottish Government has recognised that communities can play an active role in informing the next iteration of Local Development Plans (LDPs) by identifying their needs, preferences and proposals for new development in their area.

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

Legislation on the preparation, submission and registration of Local Place Plans came into force on 22nd January 2022 and the Scottish Government Planning Circular 1/2022: Local Place Plans  provides comprehensive guidance to 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 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 new Local Development Plan regulations and guidance being approved by the Scottish Parliament and this is currently not anticipated until later in 2022.

 

Some Frequently Asked Questions

Why might a community want to prepare a Local Place Plan?

Local Place Plans provide communities with the ability to shape the appearance, form and function of the places in which they live. These plans can also raise awareness, identify site specific and planning related issues that are experienced in and 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.

The process of preparing a Local Place Plan provides an opportunity for communities to come together, to engage with other organisations that can help to shape their future, and to provide a framework for actions to be delivered by the community itself.

 

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 on the council's website at: https://www.westlothian.gov.uk/article/33882/Community-councils

The definition of a 'community controlled body' is a precise legal one and is given in section 19 of the Community Empowerment 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 be the subject of a Local Place Plan 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 or new tourism/community facilities; and

  • improvements in the public realm of town/neighbourhood centres.

At the same time it's helpful to also be aware of examples of matters which would not normally be considered as development including:

  • litter management and dog fouling; and

  • improvements to public transport (routes and timetables);

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.

 

When can a Local Place Plan be prepared?

The key provisions in the 2019 Act relating to Local Place Plans came into force on January 2022 and there is currently nothing to prevent community bodies from preparing a Local Place Plan.

In due course the council will however pro-actively invite local communities to prepare Local Place Plans and will at that time identify a date by which they are to be submitted, mindful that a reasonable period of time will be needed for community bodies to prepare Local Place Plans and for them to then be taken account of prior to the finalisation of the next Local Development Plan. The council intends to initiate this procedure once it has actively commenced the preparation of LDP 2 and will likely co-ordinate this with the publication of a Participation Statement setting out proposals for the wider engagement on the new LDP.

 

What assistance can the council provide to communities wanting to prepare Local Place Plans?

The Planning (Scotland) Act 2019 requires information to be published about the assistance available to local communities to help them prepare Local Place Plans.

Once again it is important to be aware that West Lothian Council will not prepare Local Place Plans but it can help community groups identify sources of information and may be able to provide other practical help. The council can also advise on the process and requirements for Local Place Plans in West Lothian.

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).

The council can also advise where these documents can be accessed.

When creating a Local Place Plan it's also 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 opens for applications in March/April 2022Find out more here. Additionally, more detailed and up to date funding information can be obtained from Scotland's Towns Partnership.

 

What boundaries can a Local Place Plan adopt?

Local Place Plans should relate to a recognisable area or community, but this can 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

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 duplication of effort and conflict.

 

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, and while there is no prescribed format as to how a Local Place Plan should look, plans will 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.

 

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.

 

What if a community wishes to '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 LPP requirements, do nonetheless provide a community vision for the development and use of land. In such a scenario the advice from Scottish Government to local 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.

 

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

The regulations governing the preparation of Local Place Plans have been intentionally written by the Scottish Government to avoid being overly prescriptive and bureaucratic so as not to discourage communities from preparing Local Place Plans. However there are some minimum requirements for consultation with community representatives, specifically community councils and local councillors, that do need to be satisfied.

The Development Planning & Environment team can provide community bodies with, or signpost them to, the relevant contact details on request.

When submitting Local Place Plans for registration community bodies 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 does nevertheless expect community engagement to inform Local Place Plans and to be as inclusive as possible, ensuring that everyone in the affected community is made aware and has 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 also required to 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 consultation in respect of the proposed Local Place Plan.

 

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 including Local Outcome Improvement Plans (LOIPs).

 

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. Circular 1/2022 also encourage the community body to make 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 as they are prepared 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.

When the council receives a Local Place Plan it must check that it contains all the required information and that the organisation making the submission qualifies as a community body. If these requirements are satisfied the council is obliged to accept the Local Place Plan and register it. 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 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 would 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 theLocal 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

  • West Lothian Engaging Communities Toolkit is a visually engaging guide to engaging your community, and includes examples of various different techniques and their pros and cons.

  • Planning Aid for Scotland (PAS) Local Place Plan Guide contains lots of extra detailed information about the PAS approach to Local Place Planning.

  • The "How to Guide" (Scottish Community Development Centre (SCDC) and Nick Wright Planning) advises that the planning authority can explain legal requirements for submission of registration of Local Place Plans and indicates that they should also be able to provide useful advice, policy information, data, contacts and resource details to help communities prepare and deliver Local Place Plans.

It 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 local authorities have limited resources, and may not be able to offer as much help as they would wish.

To act as a framework for collaborative working, the "How to Guide" 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.

If you have any 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. 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 last updated: March 2022

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