Model Policies in Land Use Planning in Scotland: A Scoping Study

MG Lloyd, Deborah Peel

    Research output: Book/ReportCommissioned reportpeer-review


    SUMMARYContextModel policies have been suggested as a possible way of addressing some of the perceived weaknesses and inefficiencies in the administration and implementation of the current development plan system. The particular interest in model policies may be traced to the Review of Strategic Planning. Responses to the Consultation Paper suggested a majority view in favour of model policies.Research Aims and ObjectivesThe main aim of the study was to scope the potential of model planning policies, and, in particular, to advise on the most advantageous types and forms of model planning policy. The specific research questions were as follows:What is the scope for model development plan policies, in type, number and applicability?Can generic examples be put forward for discussion as part of this research?What are the practical concerns of users and service providers?What approaches to drawing up such policies would offer most advantages?How can model policies, once drawn up, be kept responsive to changing circumstances across Scotland?Are there any ways that guidance or advice from central government (for example, on policy form and content) might be adjusted to help?Research MethodologyThe scoping study was carried out through a literature review, an analysis of a sample of structure and local plans, and a series of focus groups. The perceptions of, and ambitions for, model planning policies differ considerably in practice. The focus groups were critical for canvassing the views and concerns of providers and users, and for stimulating a debate between special interest groups and practitioners. Importantly, a broad range of diverse user groups took part in the study.Principal FindingsModel planning policies mean different things to different service providers and users. The discussions around model policies fall into two broad areas - product and process. The research evidence shows that the identification of model policies involves much more than the comparison of wording across a number of development plans. Asserting what constitutes a model policy requires a much deeper understanding of context and setting, intention and workability. Thus, attention must be paid to the reasons why a specific policy takes a particular form. Policies also have to be read in the context of the supporting justification. The experiences of how the policy works in practice are critical. A more comprehensive approach than simply sampling plan policies is required. Moreover, the processes of identifying model policies require clear definitions and robust evaluation criteria as to what makes for 'good' policy.The policy cycle model is used to highlight the different stages in policy making and as the basis for a discussion around developing a robust policy discipline. The scoping study identified a number of related studies and research projects which are used to provide the beginnings of a resource bank for encouraging the sharing of best practice.There is no single universal type of model planning policy. Three broad families of potential model policies may be identified - international, national and local. These are based on a selected list of characteristics: origin, authority, sponsor, purpose and focus, applicability pan-Scotland, the degree of expertise required, content, the scope for departure, and whether a given policy is capable of expression in a model form.The research suggests that model policies may be appropriate for international and national designations, particularly those that are environmental in character and protectionist in intention. These draw their authority from a legislative or regulatory basis. Model policies could therefore form an integral part of the ongoing revision of national policy and be disseminated through relevant Planning Advice Notes or as stand-alone guidance.Model policies will take a different form in local circumstances. This reflects the necessary emphasis upon local distinctiveness and the tendency for local issues to attract greater interest by the community. There are, however, opportunities for commonplace policies to be shared. This will involve greater knowledge management about policy development and best practice by partner agencies also involved in the planning system. There is evidence of a lack of sufficient guidance in what constitutes best practice in policy drafting. Recommendations are made in the report as to how these gaps may be filled.
    Original languageEnglish
    PublisherScottish Government
    Number of pages74
    Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - Apr 2004

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