Local Development Plan 2 (LDP 2) - Overview
The council has begun the process of preparing a new Local Development Plan for West Lothian (LDP 2). This will in time replace the existing Local Development Plan which was adopted in 2018. The new plan will set out planning policies and proposals for the use and development of land within West Lothian for a ten-year period starting from when it is adopted, intended to be sometime in 2026. The process for preparing the new LDP is set out and explained on this page.
The development plan process is central to the planning system and all planning authorities are legally required to prepare a LDP for their area.
A Local Development Plan (LDP) sets out policies and proposals for the future development and use of land. It seeks to identify the most appropriate locations for new development while at the same time protecting the places people value or which are environmentally sensitive. Once adopted it becomes the basis for assessing and determining applications for planning permission.
There had previously been a statutory requirement to review a LDP at least every 5 years but recent changes to legislation now instruct that LDPs must be prepared at intervals of no more than 10 years or when required by the Scottish Ministers.
It is West Lothian Council's intention to replace the current LDP, which was adopted in September 2018, with a new plan (LDP 2).
The council began the preliminary preparation of LDP 2 in 2022, all within the context of a new regulatory regime introduced by The Planning (Scotland) 2019 Act which makes substantive changes to the process for preparing development plans in Scotland and with the overarching aim of making them more effective, with greater community involvement and more focus on delivery.
Planning reform in Scotland
The Scottish Government has stated that a high-quality planning system is essential to securing the creation of quality places with the homes, infrastructure and investment that people need and it is committed to improve Scotland's planning system in order to strengthen the contribution planning can make to inclusive growth, to delivering housing and infrastructure, to addressing climate change and to sustaining, supporting and empowering communities.
Reform is ongoing and will continue to affect the preparation and timescale of all future local development plans in Scotland, including the second West Lothian LDP.
How planning reform affects the preparation of future development plans
The most significant changes of note include:
- increasing the time period for replacing development plans from 5 to 10 years;
- removing provisions which allowed statutory Supplementary Guidance to form part of the development plan;
- merging Scottish Planning Policy (SPP) into the new National Planning Framework (NPF4);
- incorporating NPF4 as part of the Development Plan;
- removing the requirement to prepare strategic development plans but introducing a new obligation for planning authorities to act together to prepare 'Regional Spatial Strategies' (RSS)
- introducing the opportunity for community bodies to prepare new "Local Place Plans" which will set out proposals for the development or use of land in particular areas.
National Planning Framework (NPF)
The National Planning Framework (NPF) is authored by the Scottish Government and sets out a long-term spatial strategy for the development of Scotland as a whole and identifies what Scottish Ministers consider to be development priorities.
NPF4 came into force on 13 February 2023. It incorporates detailed national policy on a number of planning topics which had previously been set out in a separate document (Scottish Planning Policy). For the first time spatial and thematic planning policies are addressed in one place.
Significantly, NPF4 has also been made the new vehicle for identifying the housing land requirements for LDPs, taking over the role from the now redundant Strategic Development Plans.
Regional Spatial Strategies (RSS)
The preparation and adoption of Regional Spatial Strategies (RSS) will provide long term spatial development frameworks at a regional level which will identify strategic development needs and priorities. While they will not form part of the development plan, they must be taken account of when an LDP is being prepared. West Lothian Council has worked collaboratively with SESplan/City Deal partner authorities to prepare an indicative RSS and this was submitted to Scottish Government at the end of 2021 to help inform what was at that time the emerging NPF4. You can view the Regional Spatial Strategy here.
Implications for LDP 2 production
Many of the features of the new development planning system require secondary legislation, regulations and additional guidance to give greater clarity as to how they will work. While secondary legislation to enable implementation of the new Act has begun to come forward (and with some sections of the Act already commenced) much of the guidance had been delayed, due in part to the Coronavirus pandemic, and has only recently been published. Most significantly perhaps are The Town and Country Planning (Development Planning) (Scotland) Regulations 2023 and the new Local Development Planning Guidance which sets out the Scottish Ministers' expectations of new style LDPs.
The Scottish Government is progressing a detailed work programme which will implement the new Planning Act, and which can be viewed here.
As a consequence it is possible that the timescale for the preparation of the next West Lothian Local Development Plan (LDP 2) may have to be adjusted during the course of 2023 in response to a range of external factors, some of which are beyond the control of the council.
Process for the preparation of LDP 2
Under the new regulatory arrangements introduced by the Planning (Scotland) Act 2019, there are 6 key stages involved in the local development plan making process.
1. Evidence Report : The first formal stage is the Evidence Report. It requires to be approved by the council and submitted to Scottish Ministers in advance of preparing the Proposed Plan. The Evidence Report will set out information on the work that has been carried out on a range of factors including the housing, health and education needs of the area with the intention of ensuring that the Plan is built on a clear and evidenced understanding of the planning needs of West Lothian. Preparation of the Evidence Report will also be a key focus of community engagement.
Engagement activities allied to the Evidence Report will over time include:
- awareness raising through email 'mailshots' to customers and those on our contact database;
- publication online for consultation and, where appropriate, making available physical copies at libraries or other council offices;
- publication of press notices to inform stakeholders how, where and when documents and materials may be viewed;
- engagement with Community Councils and Key Agency Groups;
- engagement and feedback from scheduled public events and social media activity; and
- tailored consultation activities to seek views of those groups named in the Planning (Scotland) Act 2019 in relation to preparation of Evidence Reports (i.e. disabled persons, Gypsies and Travellers, children and young people).
The most recent iteration of the council's Development Plan Scheme (DPS No.15) anticipates the Evidence Report being prepared for submission in the early part of 2024.
NB: Notification of public engagement events will be made on the dedicated LDP 2 webpage as and when appropriate.
2. The Gatecheck : The Evidence Report is to be approved by the council and assessed by a representative of the Scottish Ministers (a Reporter from the Scottish Government's Planning and Appeals Division, DPEA) who will determine whether it contains sufficient information and whether key matters have been considered and engagement and consultation requirements have been met. This process is known as the 'gatecheck'.
Following a successful sign off of the Evidence Report by Scottish Ministers the council will be given authority to publish and consult upon its Proposed Local Development Plan. However if the Evidence Report is not deemed to be satisfactory a revised Evidence Report will require to be re-submitted to Scottish Ministers and approved before the council will be allowed to proceed with its preparation of a draft LDP.
It should be noted that the 'gatecheck' procedure does not replace the need for formal examination of the plan itself, that remains, but through early consideration of the evidence base for the plan it is hoped that the potential for delay at later stages can be reduced.
3. Draft Proposed Plan and consultation : The Proposed Plan is to be prepared, approved and published alongside the Evidence Report and will at that point represent the council's settled view on the policies and proposals that it intends to adopt.
The Proposed Plan will then be consulted on, and depending on the outcome of the consultation, the council may make further modifications to the draft Proposed Plan before submitting to Scottish Ministers. Any unresolved representations are however to be considered by an independent planning reporter as part of an examination of the plan that would follow.
4. Examination : The examination process is conducted by a representative of the Scottish Ministers (a Reporter from the Scottish Government's Planning and Appeals Division, DPEA). Due to the earlier 'gatecheck' the examination is not expected to be a lengthy process and is to focus on unresolved issues, specifically any remaining areas of disagreement between the Planning Authority's proposals and the views of parties who have made representations.
The DPEA Reporter can require modifications to be made to the Proposed Plan, and in circumstances where the amount of land allocated for housing is deemed to be insufficient, there are provisions for the council (as planning authority) to be instructed to prepare a completely new Local Development Plan.
5. Adoption : Once the examination is complete and any changes have been incorporated the Plan can be adopted by the council. This is when it becomes a formal part of the development plan and the current Local Development Plan (LDP 1) will be revoked.
6. Delivery Programme : The focus of the plan should be on delivery. As such, the planning authority is required to produce a Delivery Programme which is detailed and practical and leads to development on the ground. The Delivery Programme will be published alongside the Evidence Report and the Proposed Plan. The council, as planning authority, must monitor the implementation of the delivery programme to determine whether commitments in the LDP are being met.
This page was last updated: 24 July 2023