COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT IN PLANNING
7. Whatever the circumstances, it is important that all stakeholders know the extent to which they can be involved in planning decisions, taking into account the practical limits of the process and the constraints within which it operates. For instance, while development plans will set out the planning authority's policies and proposals, whether development will actually occur on a piece of land will also depend on subsequent regulatory processes, such as the need for planning consent, and a host of other factors including the landowner's aspirations for the site.
• Community Engagement must be meaningful and proportionate.
8. The term 'consultation' is used to mean the dynamic process of dialogue between individuals or groups, based on a genuine exchange of views and, normally, with the objective of influencing decisions, policies or programmes of action. The terms 'engagement' and 'involvement' are generally interchangeable and are taken to mean the establishment of effective relationships with individuals or groups. Participation is everything that enables people to influence the decisions and get involved in the actions that affect their lives. In the context of this document engagement is, in effect, giving people a genuine opportunity to have a say on a development plan or proposal which affects them; listening to what they say and reaching a decision in an open and transparent way taking account of all views expressed.
Community Engagement in Planning
Effective engagement with the public can lead to better plans, better decisions and more satisfactory outcomes and can help to avoid delays in the planning process. It also improves confidence in the fairness of the planning system. The Scottish Government expects engagement with the public to be meaningful and to occur from the earliest stages in the planning process to enable community views to be reflected in development plans and development proposals. Minimum requirements for consultation and engagement in the planning system are established through legislation. Advice on community engagement in the planning system, linked to the National Standards for Community Engagement, is provided in PAN 81 Community Engagement.
Everyone has the right to comment on any planning application which is being considered by a planning authority. Legitimate public concern or support expressed on a relevant planning matter should be a consideration in planning decisions. Planning authorities must ensure that communities are given the opportunity to get involved in the preparation of development plans. Planning authorities and developers should ensure appropriate and proportionate steps are taken to engage with communities when planning policies and guidance are being developed, when development proposals are being formed and when applications for planning permission are made. Individuals and community groups should ensure that they focus on planning issues and utilise available opportunities for engaging constructively with developers and planning authorities. Close working with communities can help to identify and overcome sensitivities or concerns associated with new development. Liaison committees can have a role in offering communities greater involvement in the operation of mineral extraction sites and other similar developments.
Scottish Planning Policy (2010)
9. Defining 'community' is not simple. It means different things in different situations. It can be based on location - those who live, work or use an area. But it can also be based on a common interest, value or background - for example societal groups (based on race, faith, ethnicity, disability, age, gender or sexual orientation), members of sports clubs and heritage or cultural groups. Each community will have different desires and needs which have to be balanced against the desires and needs of others.