Toggle menu

Local Place Plans (LPPs) : Guidance

Local Place Plans (LPPs) are community led plans that were introduced by The Planning (Scotland) Act 2019 to encourage communities to be more active participants in planning for their futures. LPPs enable communities to submit ideas and proposals for their area. If a LPP is submitted the council will place it on a register of LPPs and will take its content into account during the preparation of the next Local Development Plan (LDP 2).

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 generation 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 development 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 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 establish 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 anticipated that communities will work collaboratively to reach a shared view on how an area should change in the future.

While LPPs 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 LPPs have influenced the process.

Legislation introducing LPPs 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 LPPs. 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 came into force in 2022. In particular, Sections 14(2) relating to the planning authority's 'invitation to prepare' LPPs was only commenced on 19 May 2023 and sections 14(4) and (6) relating to the taking into account of registered LPPs in the LDP were made dependent on secondary legislation and also allied to new LDP regulations and associated guidance approved by the ScottishParliament and similarly brought into force in May 2023.

If you are a community body and are considering preparing a Local Place Plan we would like to hear from you. Please complete the Local Place Plan Enquiry/Notice of Interest formIf you have previously advised the council of your intent you do not have to send a notification although you are still welcome to do so.

Please be assured that by intimating your interest it doesn't in any way commit you to submitting a LPP 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 questions about Local Place Plans please refer in the first instance to the dedicated section of the website. However if you don't find the answer you need you can email the Development Planning and Environment team at wlldp@westlothian.gov.uk and we will be happy to help.

 

Frequently Asked Questions

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

 

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

Relationship of LPPs to LDP

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 comprises 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. However they are intended to help inform the preparation of the next LDP which is one of the two components of the Development Plan.

The Fourth National Planning Framework for Scotland (NPF4) was approved by the Scottish Parliament on 11 January 2023 and adopted and brought into force on 13 February 2023.

There is no specific requirement in the legislation governing the preparation of LPPs for them to be consistent with other plans, but in the preparation of LPPs community bodies must have regard to the current LDP and NPF4 and a reasoned justification would have to be provided for anything that is contrary to what these plans propose. 

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

 

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

The key provisions in the Town & Country Planning (Scotland) Act 2019 relating to LPPs came into force in January 2022 and there is therefore nothing to prevent community bodies from preparing a LPP now. The timing is entirely at the discretion of the community body. The Council is however required to formally invite local communities to prepare LPPs and it is at that time that it identifies and confirms the date by which they will require to be submitted, mindful that a reasonable allowance of time will be needed for communities to prepare LPPs and for them to be taken account of. Invitations were issued in July 2023.

Notwithstanding that LPPs can be submitted at any time for validation and registration, they are quite clearly most able to inform the new LDP that is under preparation if they are submitted before the 'Proposed Plan' is prepared.

The first stage of preparing the new West Lothian Local Development Plan, LDP 2, requires the council to produce an 'evidence report' which acts as the basis for preparing the proposed plan before it is examined by an independent 'gatecheck'. To ensure that LPPs are able to inform the evidence report stage of the LDP they must be submitted for registration not later than 31 March, 2024. 

While LPPs submitted after the evidence report stage will not be able to be reflected in the evidence report they will nevertheless still be a valid consideration in the preparation of the new plan.

While the council has published a timetable for the preparation of LDP 2, most recently in March 2023 (Development Plan Scheme DPS No.15), and will endeavour to deliver to these dates, it will be appreciated that the plan is being prepared under a new processand a significantly changed regulatory environment and that revisions may require to be made in response to circumstances at some stage in the process. However in that event any changes will be publicised and communicated as early as possible in the knowledge of how this could impact on the preparation of LPPs. In the event that a key LDP 2 processing date is not realised (and requires to be adjusted) the council will advise whether the required submission date for LPPs is also to be extended as a consequence. Assurance is given that the submission date of 31 March, 2024 will not be brought forward (but it may be extended to a later date thereby providing some additional time to submit).

 

(3) 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 LDP. This will continue to be the case and LPPs are not intended to replace these opportunities. They will instead complement them.

The process of preparing a LPP 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. LPPs 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, LPPs have been given a statutory role in the planning process, particularly with regard to the preparation of the next LDP.

 

(4) 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 therefore 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 LPP 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). LPPs 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.

 

(5) 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 LPP 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 LPP 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 LPP. 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 LPP 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 LPP will be able to achieve and to recognise that the preparation of LPPs will not in themselves guarantee that all of the changes proposed will happen. While the intent is for LPPs 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 LDP, there is no statutory obligation for LDPs to adopt and incorporate the provisions of  LPPs. That said, LPPs 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 LDP.

 

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

It is important to be aware that because LPPs are by definition 'community led' plans West Lothian Council has no remit or responsibility to prepare LPPs for or on behalf of 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 LPPs.

In particular the council can identify:

  • the LDP for the land or any part of the land, to which the LPP relates;
  • NPF4
  • development plan policies 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 LPP relates and the contact details for the relevant Community Planning Partnerships (CPPs).

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

When creating a LPP 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 LPPs, 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.

The Community Map Scotland project is focused on helping Scottish Community Councils create their LPPs. 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 LPPs 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 LPPs being prepared for the same area, the Scottish Government encourages people and organisations considering preparing a LPP 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 LPP should 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 LPP 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 LPP 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 LPPs it registers.

A LPP 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. LOIPs are the mechanism by which West Lothian's Community Planning Partnerships deliver improved outcomes for their communities. A new LOIP  (LOIP 2023 to 2033) was published in November 2023.

Local Community 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 understands 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 LPPs 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 LPP 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 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 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 communities when preparing Local Place Plans?

The requirement for engagement in the preparation of  LPPs 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 LPPs. There are however some specific requirements to consult with community representatives, i.e. community councils and local councillors representing the area which the LPP 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 LPPs 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 LPPs 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 LPP.

Community bodies are required to demonstrate that the LPP 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 LPP and the basis on which it has reached that view, including a description of any consultations in respect of the proposed LPP.

 

(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 LPP, had regard to:

  • the LDP for the LPP area;
  • NPF4; and
  • any Local Community Plan (Locality Plan) for the LPP area.

It's important to be aware that if this part of the process is not correctly adhered to the council will be unable to register the LPP and delays may ensue as any deficiencies will require to be satisfactorily remedied.

The council has a duty to check that LPPs satisfy the requirements under paragraphs 1(4) and 2(1) of Schedule 19 of the 1997 Act and which is further interpreted and explained in the legislation Town and Country Planning (Local Place Plans) (Scotland) Regulations 2021 and in Scottish Government Circular 1/2022 - Local Place Plans.

It's strongly recommended that the Scottish Government Circular 1/2022 - Local Place Plans is closely read prior to submitting a LPP and with particular attention to paragraphs 36 to 81.

We would also recommend reading Planning Aid Scotland's Guide for Community Delivery of Local Place Plans Part 1: Planning and Preparing at this time as it sets out the process in very clear terms.

A 'checklist' of the key minimum requirements, based on Planning Circular 1/2022 Local Place Plans is provided for assistance. Local Place Plan Registration Checklist [106KB]

When a LPP is registered there is a requirement to make public the unredacted contact details of the community body submitting the LPP. The contact details require to be the address of the community body or the address of an individual who is acting as the community body's representative together with an email address. As a safeguarding measure it is suggested that consideration is given to providing contact details which are not of an overtly personalised nature wherever practicable.

Finally, it's important to be aware that where maps, photographs, illustrations and other images have been incorporated into a LPP they will generally be protected by copyright and that it is the responsibility of the submitting body to check and secure the permission of the copyright owner(s) to use them. 

 

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

A community may of course decide that a LPP 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 LPP. 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 will always be 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 engage 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 LDP.

For some time there has been an opportunity for communities to produce a less formal 'Community Action Plan'. Community Action Plans and LPPs 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 LPPs 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 LDP 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

Once a community body has prepared a LPP 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.

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

It should however 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 a Local Place Plan for their planning merit or deliverability. This will be done later and as part of the wider Local Development Plan process.

The Local Place Plan Register can be viewed here.

 

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 delivery of Local Place Plans.

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

If you have any other questions relating to Local Place Plans 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.ukIf 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: 13 December 2023