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Planning Policy

Preparation of the Development Plan and other supporting policies, information or studies which form the basis for making decisions on planning applications.

What is development planning?

Development planning is the preparation of the Development Plan and other supporting policies, information or studies which form the basis for making decisions on planning applications. The Development Plan sets out a vision of how West Lothian should develop in a sustainable way, it is used by us for making decisions on development proposals and should be used by you before you make or comment on a planning application.

Major changes were made to the way in which the Development Plan for the area is prepared. You can find more about these changes from the Scottish Government website.

What makes up the development plan?

The development plan is a document that sets out how places should change and what they could be like in the future and is a land use based plan. The development plan has implications for the way we live our lives.

It says what type of development should take place where, and which areas should not be developed. It sets out the best locations for new homes and businesses and protects places of value to people or wildlife.

The plan also helps development to take place quickly by describing how any new or improved facilities, such as roads, schools and parks, will be provided.

The Development Plan for West Lothian consists of two tiers:

  • A Strategic Development Plan (SDP)

Prepared by SESplan (who works with West Lothian, Midlothian, East Lothian, City of Edinburgh, Borders and Fife councils), was approved by Scottish Ministers is available from the SESplan website.

  • The West Lothian Local Plan 2009 (this will, in time, be replaced by the West Lothian Local Development Plan).

If you want to find out if your proposal can be supported by the development plan, send us the details and we'll assess them for you. You can find a pre-application enquiry form at Pre-Application Enquiry. Please note that the council charges for this service.

How do the plans fit together?

The Strategic Development Plan covers a wide range of issues such as housing, transport, employment, shopping, recreation, renewable energy, minerals and waste, conserving and protecting wildlife and the countryside. The plan takes a long-term view of development, considering how much and broadly where it should go. After SESplan have consulted with you and organisations, they submit the Strategic Development Plan to the Scottish Government for approval.

The Strategic Development Plan provides:

  • Strategic land-use framework at the city regional level
  • Policy context for the emerging West Lothian Local Development Plan
  • Framework for investment (both public and private)
  • Basis for decision-making
  • Complete and consistent consideration of the environment
  • A twenty year time span, reviewed after the first five years
  • Policies and proposals approved by the Scottish Ministers

The Local Development Plan (LDP) will set out detailed policies and proposals to guide development. You should currently use the West Lothian Local Plan when you want to make a planning application or comment on a planning application and the Local Development Plan (proposed plan).

Local Development Plans are:

  • Obviously more local and cover a smaller area than the Strategic Development Plan
  • Detailed and site specific
  • Reviewed every five years
  • Adopted by us as planning authority

What other policies, information or studies are available to support the development plan?

There are a number of policies and studies which support the delivery of the development plan and more information on these are shown below.

  • Supplementary planning guidance

Prepared in a number of topics to help support an up-to-date and consistent application of development plan policies (including developer contribution policies)

  • Background information and studies; these include the Housing Land Audit and retail capacity studies