HOPS views on the Local Development Plan Regulations and Guidance

The Scottish Government issued the proposed Local Development Planning regulations and draft guidance for consultation in December 2021. The consultation forms part of the Governments’ work on planning reform and implementing the Planning (Scotland) Act 2019. The consultation proposes that new regulations are simplified and streamlined, much of the detail for implementation of the 2019 Act is set out in guidance. The reasoning for this approach is to provide maximum flexibility and resilience, allowing experience from implementing the new system to be incorporated into updated guidance as it emerges.

Heads of Planning Scotland are generally supportive of this approach but consider there are some areas of the Local Development Plan process that need to be set out in regulation. Those areas are as follows:

  • Policies – further regulation is required to provide a legal framework for the policies that will be contained in LDPs, whether that is for policies not included in NPF4 or where the local authority is of the view that the NPF4 policy does not reflect local circumstances and local variation is therefore needed or the national policy is not clear, deliverable or enforceable. Further regulation is also required to provide legal definition on the statutory weight to be applied to older plans where NPF4 is the newer plan and vice versa.
  • Evidence Report – HOPS are concerned that the draft guidance is introducing additional requirements over and above those listed at Section 15(5) of the Planning (Scotland) Act 2019. To provide clarity to the planning authority, the appointed Reporter and stakeholders, HOPS are requesting that regulation is required on what the minimum data requirements are for the Evidence Report, specify those stakeholders who should be consulted, and include a definition of what is considered sufficient information in relation to the Evidence Report.
  • Gate Check – HOPS consider that for this new stage of LDP preparation to be clear and transparent, further regulation is needed on the scope of the Gate Check and what the Reporter’s powers are in that, what the parameters of further information request are, how disputes will be treated going forward, and what can and cannot be re-opened or re-examined at the Examination of the Proposed Plan.
  • Delivery Programme – HOPS consider that many of the aspects of delivering the plan are out with the control of the planning authority. Guidance suggesting that the delivery programme becomes a central part of how Council’s financially plan is not considered to be realistic

HOPS are committed to continue work with Scottish Government on the LDP regulations and other matters as they progress.

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