Making Local Place Plans Work – collaboration rather than conflict

As part of the ongoing review of the Scottish planning system RTPI Scotland has produced a series of thinkpieces aimed at providing workable solutions to supplement the proposals made by Scottish Government in its consultation paper, Places, People and Planning. A thinkpiece by Ian Angus, Julia Frost, Graham Marchbank, Jill Paterson and Stuart Salter tackled how Local Place Plans (LPPs) could work in practice.

Key Principle

All communities would have the right to initiate a community led planning process subject to meeting specified but succinct criteria.

Firstly, the thinkpiece specifies two scenarios in which LPPs could be prepared:

  1. Priority areas as identified through Community Planning in Local Outcome Improvement Plans (LOIPs)
  2. Areas outlined for major change by the relevant Local Development Plan (LDP). This would help communities to shape major development, especially through the master planning process.

Other criteria will need to be established to help define how and when LPPs should be prepared. RTPI Scotland suggests that further research should examine:

  • the criteria to be met to establish a ‘community’ for the purposes of preparing local place plans;
  • the cycle and timescale for the preparation, monitoring and review of LPPs, taking into consideration the differing cycles of community and spatial planning systems;
  • the process for the approval of LPPs
  • the guidance and technical support required; and
  • the options for resourcing including the increased sharing of services such as Community Planning, education, community education and spatial planning.

Responsibilities

Introducing a new tier of spatial plan would create a series of important new responsibilities. For LPPs to succeed the location and scope of these responsibilities will need to be clear, and resourced, from the outset.

Key responsibilities identified include:

  • Community Planning Partnerships – co-ordinating community engagement processes with the planning authority and promoting and facilitating the preparation of community led LPPs
  • planning authorities – with a duty to liaise with the Community Planning Partnership on community engagement to inform LOIPs, Locality Plans (LPs), LDPs and strategic planning
  • ‘communities’ (to be defined in the secondary legislation) – with duty to notify the Community Planning Partnership of intention to prepare an LPP and subsequently submit into, in accordance with secondary legislation, advice and guidance

Implementation

LPPs would be part of a network of strategies: LOIPs, LPs and LDPs. The thinkpiece proposes a statutory and reciprocal link between community planning and spatial planning, creating a feedback loop between community plans, development plans and regional strategies. This would ensure that all stakeholders have meaningful input into the spatial planning process with a share of the responsibilities, whilst managing expectations and conveying constraints.

Resourcing

Critical to this thinkpiece is implementing proposals that provide the most effective and efficient use of resource. Local government resources are stretched, and this proposal would require extra resource at an earlier stage in the engagement process. However, the ideas here are intended to reduce costs and delays at later stages, lessening recurring conflicts often experienced in the spatial planning process. Better community involvement could also improve planning outcomes, and therefore the economic value added of development.

RTPI Scotland has chosen to specify scenarios in which LPPs could be prepared to reflect the need to distribute scarce resources as fairly as possible. We believe that support for preparing local place plans should focus on:

  • facilitating and supporting communities, including innovative engagement and facilitation methods, especially to involve seldom heard and young people;
  • creating a central advice hub, which could contain elements of a ‘self-help’ service;
  • national advice and guidance in the preparation of LPPs should be prepared for Local Authorities and Community Planning Partnerships.

One thought on “Making Local Place Plans Work – collaboration rather than conflict

  1. This is an excellent set of starting points to help work out how LPPs might work.

    Two things spring to mind in response…

    1. How much approval and compliance is needed?

    The English Neighbourhood Planning system seems quite complex and cumbersome, especially considering that voluntary groups will be bearing a lot of the brunt of the work.

    Compliance or approval are top down models which feel contrary to the spirit of community empowerment.

    Maybe a better solution would be for local authorities to issue a simple guidance note, before any LPPs are prepared, which set out the wider strategic issues which LPPs should take account of?

    Then the approach for LPPs would be more one of partnership and collaboration, rather than approval.

    2. Running through the thinkpiece is a thread of linking with other systems, like community empowerment. I think this is very welcome – it’s fundamental.

    There are other people out there already doing work very similar to LPPs.

    Community Action Plans are its one example. They can be found up and down the country. They’re not statutory documents, but they’re invaluable to help communities tap into windfarm funding and other resources and support. Many are funded through a Scottish Government fund called Local Energy Scotland. Other community based plans are funded through the Lottery or other sources.

    We need to work much more effectively with that wider landscape of community based plans. They are already doing what we’re trying to create. Let’s not reinvent the wheel!

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