Many of us were cynical that the Government’s aims and exhortations for speeding-up the preparation and approval of development plans would translate into action by planning authorities. In much of Scotland, these aims have evaporated in the mist, and the cynicism has proved to be well-founded. It is unbelievable how slow many authorities have been; and in council areas covered by a Strategic Development Plan, desperately slow. The SDPs have been lumbering along slowly, some swamped in a sea of verbiage.
One technique that a number of councils have adopted, which we have found useful, is to start land-searches early in the process. This has taken the form of “calls for sites” – even before the Main Issues Report (MIR) stage. A gazetteer of “candidate” sites is then published, together with an assessment process which relates the available potential supply of land thereby revealed to the demand, then ranks the sites into various categories: eg, from “promoted for inclusion in the housing land supply” down to “rejected”. This allows site owners to make an early assessment of the work they will have to do to get a site into the plan. It also allows communities to understand what land is being promoted for development. The risk is that the whole process is delayed, but some councils have avoided this. The statutory process is to go straight from the Main Issues Report to the Draft Plan, which is a big jump.
LDP SDP MIR SEA : Are you confused by these acronyms? See section on Terminology below.
Some forthcoming dates for development plans throughout Scotland
Argyll and Bute Local Development Plan
The Council’s Development Plan Scheme indicated that a Draft Plan was to be published in January, but it did not appear! News from the Council is that August is now the anticipated date.
Clackmannan Local Development Plan
This Council’s DP Scheme, and indeed the Scottish Government, anticipated publication of a Local Development Plan for Clackmannan in February. Current advice from the Council is “after the Local Government elections, maybe June”. Watch our website for an update!
Dumfries and Galloway Local Development Plan
This is a council that is presently doing a “sites” consultation, following publication of the MIR. If you have a land interest in its area, be sure to check the consultation documents and SEA, and respond by the deadline which is 9th March 2012.
Mid-Fife Local Plan
This old-style local plan was finally adopted by the Council at the end of January . It covers Kirkcaldy, Glenrothes, Methil, Lochgelly, etc.
North Lanarkshire Local Plan
The Scottish Government reporters have now issued their “Report of Findings” on this old-style draft plan, following its examination stage. The report is available on the Council’s website – but at 720 pages watch what you do with the “print” button. The Council anticipates submitting the Findings to committee in June for adoption, with publication following soon after.
Perth and Kinross Local Development Plan
Like its big brother the “Tayplan” strategic development plan, this plan has been produced quickly and gets its message across in a reasonably concise manner : the policy section taking only 71 pages. The remaining 249 pages are diagrams and narrative for each community in the area. The document opens easily on the web and the plans are easy to open and read without stressing-out your PC. Consultation closes on 10th April 2012.
Renfrewshire Local Development Plan
The Main Issues Report is at the consultation stage. Comments have to be made to the Council by 24th February.
South Ayrshire Local Development Plan
This long-awaited draft plan is due to go back for Council consideration before Easter. Release to the public is anticipated in May, but it should be possible to see the plan in a “raw” form in the Council papers before then.
Some readers may not be familiar with the terminology and acronyms surrounding this subject. A few of the ones you will often see are :
SDP : Strategic Development Plan. These replace the old Structure Plans, but only in the “City Regions” of Glasgow and the Clyde Valley, Edinburgh and South East Scotland “SESPlan”, Dundee / Perth “TayPlan”, and Aberdeen City and Shire. Outwith these areas, LDPs do the strategic planning.
LDP : Local Development Plan. These are successors to the old Local Plans, and require to be produced by all planning authorities.
MIR : Main Issues Report. The first statutory step in preparing an SDP or LDP. This is supposed to identify the main issues which the draft plan will seek to address. As mentioned in the introduction, some planning authorities are supplementing the MIR with an additional site selection and consultation stage.
Draft Plan. This follows the MIR and is the last stage of the plan-making process when developers and the public can make representations on a new plan. It is important to remember a full case must now be made for or against the Draft Plan by the end of its consultation stage, as further support documents are unlikely to be accepted at the examination stage.
DPS : Development Plan Scheme. If you want to find out when a council’s development plan is being produced, or what stage has been reached in the process, find its Development Plan Scheme on the web. All councils are required to produce and update a DPS. Be aware that the development plan programmes of many councils have slipped since the last DPS update.
SEA : Strategic Environmental Assessment. All SDPs and LDPs, and some MIRs, are now accompanied by SEAs. At their very least they present a summary environmental appraisal of the policies, proposals and development sites. SEAs have also accompanied the additional site selection process used by some councils. SEAs should be read by those with site interests, as they often contain rudimentary assumptions regarding the impact and developability of sites and may need to be challenged in Draft Plan submissions.