Planning Changes - Reflections On Some Of The Issues

Now we have all the regulations necessary to implement the 2006

planning legislation it is possible to give some consideration as

to what the changes will in fact mean and where their impact might

be felt.

Development Plans

Underlying the planning system we have "Development

Plans". These are key documents which should inform all

parties about not just the acceptability of developments but the

way in which local authorities see their area developing.

As well as changes to speed up the system of making Development

Plans (see below), it is clear that Scottish Ministers expect local

authorities to "up their game" in relation to the

preparation of these. Scottish Ministers want the documents to be

concise, but visionary, while remaining realistic! It appears that

the approach within local authorities to the preparation of these

documents will need to change.

Under the present system in Scotland, all areas have a two-tier

system of plans - a Structure Plan and a Local Plan. The Structure

Plan is supposed to set out the broader parameters for development

with a spatial dimension, while the Local Plan is intended to be

more specific and in particular site specific. Going forward there

will only be Strategic Development Plans in the bigger "city

region" areas of Scotland, namely Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire,

Dundee, Perth and Fife, Edinburgh and the surrounding area and

Glasgow and the surrounding area. While these areas will in reality

cover a significant part of Scotland's population,

geographically there will be significant areas of Scotland which

will not have Strategic Development Plans. It will be interesting

to see whether Local Development Plans (the equivalent of Local

Plans) in those areas take a different form and format to those in

the city region areas.

Plan Preparation

So far as preparation is concerned, it is clear that Scottish

Ministers expect preparation to be a more streamlined process with

a view to both Strategic Development Plans and Local Development

Plans being significantly more up to date than historically has

been the position with their counterparts. One issue that has

caused complications in relation to the preparation of Local Plans

is the need for conformity with the relevant Structure Plan. Delays

in the adoption of the Structure Plan have often led to delays in

progress of the Local Plan (Fife is a good example of this). In

relation to the timescale for approval, Scottish Ministers may well

need to "up their game". Be that as it may, given the

timescales which Scottish Ministers expect all local authorities

(planning authorities) to work to, it seems inevitable that there

will have to be a higher degree of co-operation than may have

previously been the position and certainly "twin

tracking" in relation to the preparation...

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