Planning and Architecture

The Private Sector and LDP Evidence Reports

April 24, 2024 by No Comments | Category Planning

How to get involved

The first round of local development plan (LDP) Evidence Reports are under preparation by planning authorities across Scotland. We want these to support a delivery focused planning system; this will demand early and proactive engagement between planning authorities and all stakeholders. We want to see positive and open conversations which promote creative solutions to shared challenges.

This blog looks at what private sector stakeholders can do to support the Evidence Report stage of plan-making, covering:

– The purpose of Evidence Reports.
– The involvement private sector stakeholders can expect.
– Assessing ‘sufficiency’ and addressing disagreements.
– Site promotion in the new development planning system.

Purpose of Evidence Reports

The purpose of Evidence Reports is to improve the quality and effectiveness of local development plans (LDPs). A system refocused on an infrastructure first approach to delivery requires robust understanding of the baseline, and the resulting opportunities and constraints for development.

The Evidence Report should:
• Include a proportionate summary of the baseline information.
• Include spatial information, but not site specific matters.
• Set out the planning authority’s interpretation of what the evidence means for the LDP and Delivery Programme.

Getting involved

Early and proactive engagement between the planning authority and stakeholders is expected. There is a statutory requirement to engage with the public at large: landowners and developers are considered relevant stakeholders. There is no formal public consultation required on Evidence Reports.

It is important for stakeholders to have their say on how they want to be engaged in development planning by inputting to planning authority Participation Statements.

What can private sector stakeholders expect to contribute?

Stakeholders should consider what information they hold and control, whether this would be a useful consideration for Evidence Reports, and how it might be shared with planning authorities. It is important that evidence contributed is robust, reliable and up to date. The LDP guidance contains comprehensive information about the issues that Evidence Reports are required to and may usefully consider.

Planning authorities can use topic and/or sector groups or forums to engage around data collection and evidence.

Assessing the ‘sufficiency’ of the evidence

The ‘Gate Check’, carried out by a DPEA Reporter, will make an independent judgement of whether the Evidence Report contains ‘sufficient information’ to inform preparation of a LDP. Minimum evidence requirements are not defined: There is flexibility for proportionate professional judgment about what type and amount of evidence is sufficient.

What happens if there is disagreement about the evidence?

Planning authorities should aim to resolve any queries from stakeholders around sufficiency before submitting their Evidence Report to the Gate Check. However, it is not expected that it will always be possible to reach agreement with all parties about the evidence considered, or its analysis. The Evidence Report should highlight any remaining disagreements. The Gate Check will not necessarily resolve disagreements about the analysis of the evidence between the planning authority and stakeholders, but will focus on sufficiency of the information presented.

Additional information should not be sent to the Scottish Ministers or Reporter at the Gate Check stage, unless specifically requested. Evidence found to be sufficient at the Gate Check is not expected to be revisited at the Examination, so it is important to engage with the planning authority early on.

Site promotion

Evidence Reports will not deal with site specific issues, and so detailed information about individual potential development sites will generally not be considered at this stage. The Evidence Report will however be expected to include the site appraisal methodology for application later in the plan preparation process.

Site selection is expected to take place during plan preparation, once a proportionate baseline of evidence has been established and the implications understood. There is no requirement for a ‘call for sites’, but planning authorities may choose to use this approach if they consider it appropriate to their circumstances.

It is expected that all sites allocated in an existing plan will be re-appraised during preparation of a new LDP.

As new style LDPs progress we will provide further blogs on engagement in preparation of the LDP and the Delivery Programme. For detailed information about the relevant legal requirements and expectations, please see the Local Development Planning Guidance.

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