From Ft Wm, Inv & Tor CC

Local Place Plans

In Scotland, Local Place Plans were created by the 2019 Planning Act. Local Place Plans are a new type of plan giving people an opportunity to develop proposals for the development and use of land in the place where they live.

LPP consultation question

Since 2019, local communities in Scotland have had the right to create a so-called 'Local Place Plan' for their area (eg a village, suburb or estate). Local Place Plans have to be "taken into account" by the planning authority (ie Highland Council, for Lochaber). However, the planning authority has the right to 'invalidate' (ie ignore) a Local Place Plan in certain circumstances; these are to be laid down in forthcoming planning regulations.

The Scottish Government is presently consulting on those forthcoming regulations. Many of the points at issue concern the process by which satisfactory (ie valid) Local Place Plans are to be prepared by so-called 'community bodies'. (The definition of a community body has already been laid down in law so is not part of the consultation, but it's reasonably elastic.)

One possible view is that ONLY deficiencies in the FINAL draft, including the process of producing that draft, should enable a planning authority to invalidate a Local Place Plan against the wishes of the community body that has prepared it. But a stricter view is that deficiencies in EARLIER drafts, including the process of producing those drafts, might rightly enable a planning authority to invalidate even the FINAL draft of a Local Place Plan against the wishes of the community body that has prepared it.

Do you agree with the stricter view?

(A plausible example of a process deficiency might perhaps be this:- failing to actively seek the views of disabled or elderly residents at a sufficiently early stage in the preparation process to significantly influence the final draft of the Place Plan.)

[ Aside: A few of the ScotGov consultation questions employ a very specific legalism: "to have regard to (something)," which (FYI) imposes a duty to (a) be familiar with, to (b) be aware of divergences from, and to (c) be able to provide a reason (or reasons) for each divergence from it. On the other hand, the bar set for such reasons is not particularly high: appropriately 'clear', 'proper', and 'legitimate' reasons need not be 'good', 'cogent', or 'compelling', for instance. Specifically, the English/Welsh High Court has found that "to have regard to" something obliges a body to "have and give clear reasons" for any departure from it. Furthermore, these clear reasons must "objectively be proper reasons, or legitimate reasons". However, to say that the reasons must be "good", "cogent" or "compelling" would be raising the bar "far higher than is appropriate in this context." (in Regina v Schools Adjudicator [2015] EWHC 1012 (Admin)). My understanding is that so far Scottish case law has yet to deviate from this precedent (but give it time). ]