New Planning Advice Notes For Scotland
Two new Planning Advice Notes (PANs) have recently been published in Scotland: Affordable Housing and Housing Land Audits (PAN 2/2010); and Community Engagement (PAN 3/2010).
PAN 2/2010 - Affordable Housing and Housing Land Audits, was published on 31 August 2010 and has been produced to supersede both PAN 74 – Affordable Housing (2005) and Annex A of SPP3 – Planning for Homes (2008). The PAN provides advice and information on the delivery of affordable housing as part of providing high quality, sustainable communities. It explains the role of local authorities, Registered Social Landlords and developers in planning for and delivering a range of affordable housing types and tenures to meet identified need. The Advice Note encourages a flexible approach with regard to providing a range of tenures, the percentage of affordable units identified in development plan policy (SPP sets a benchmark of 25% of total units, although an alternative figure can be used by LPAs if fully justified), provision on alternative sites and, in some cases, the use of a commuted sum. There is an enhanced recognition in the PAN that the private sector require both a flexibility in the forms of delivery of affordable housing as well as a certainty of the required provision stated through development plan policies.
The PAN stresses that affordable housing should ideally be integrated into the proposed development, such as by provision of a portion of low cost housing or the transfer of a portion of the site to be developed by an Rented Social Landlord or local authority. However, it also advises that a commuted sum (for off-site provision) is a matter for negotiation between the developer and the local authority, having regard to development costs, other contributions that are being sought, and other relevant factors such as layout and design. This advice encourages flexibility and local solutions in delivering affordable housing consistent with the approach taken on a range of other issues, such as agreement on sums required for infrastructure, and more widely the Concordat with local government.
The PAN also sets out advice on good practice in the preparation of housing land audits. This includes an up-to-date definition of how to assess the ‘effectiveness’ of sites, detail on how to realistically ‘program’ sites, the treatment of ‘non-effective sites’ and how to consider other categories of site.
PAN 3/2010 – Community Engagement, was also published on 31 August 2010 and supersedes PAN 81 of the same name (published 2007). This PAN emphasises that a key aim of the Planning etc (Scotland) Act 2006 and associated secondary legislation was to provide enhanced opportunities for people to get involved in the planning system, as also set out in SPP. The stated aim of this PAN is to provide further advice to communities on how they can get involved and advise planning authorities and developers on ways of effectively engaging with communities on planning matters.
Details are given on local authority practices for engagement, such as weekly planning lists, e-planning, neighbour notification requirements and consultation with community councils. The PAN also links directly with the National Standards for Community Engagement, which set out best practice principles for the way councils and other public bodies should engage with communities. Advice on the consideration and implementation of the following Standards headings are detailed in the PAN: Involvement; Support; Planning; Methods; Working Together; Sharing Information; Working with Others; Improvement; Feedback; and Monitoring and Evaluation. A benchmarking tool called SP=EED (Scottish Planning equals Effective Engagement and Delivery), as produced by Planning Aid for Scotland, is also highlighted.