Advice and Support

Communities and planning

Get your voice heard in the community and spatial planning systems.

1 Overview

When changes happen in your community, you might find yourself involved in the planning process. That might mean getting permission for a community project, or supporting someone else's plans. It could also mean getting involved in planning for your community - thinking about what changes could make it better, healthier and happier.

We have a formal role in the spatial planning process. We give advice to decision-makers on planning applications, listed building consents, and conservation area consents. We also make the decisions for works that affect scheduled monuments.

The community planning process in Scotland is separate, and also a key part of our work. We support the Place Principle in Scotland to create successful and sustainable places.

Community planning is about how public bodies work together, and with local communities, to design and deliver better services that make a real difference to people's lives. We support Community Planning Partnerships and can provide services for plans to improve local areas.

The plans made by community partnerships can influence decisions on spatial planning. We encourage communities to be involved in plans for their local areas. We have prepared a pack with extra information to help. Find out more about both systems, and our role in them, in the following pages.

2 Shaping your community

Community planning is about setting the direction of travel for your community. It aims to make a real difference to people's health and wellbeing.

A Community Planning Partnership is the name given to all the services that come together to take part in community planning. There's one for each of the local council areas in Scotland. Their role is to produce Local Outcome Improvement Plans (LOIP) and Locality Plans.

Historic Environment Scotland is one of the organisations that provides a service in the context of community planning. We are feeding our support and services into plans to improve local areas. You can find out more about what individual organisations do to support community planning on the Community Planning in Scotland website.

If you are setting up a community group, or thinking about organising a community project, it's a good idea to think about how it relates to the LOIP or Locality Plan for your area.

One way of thinking about this is to use the Place Standard Tool. The Place Standard Tool is a way of assessing places that helps us to think about space in the broadest sense. The things that contribute to a place might range from its buildings and architecture to its sense of community and identity.

The tool was built jointly by NHS Health Scotland, the Scottish Government and Architecture & Design Scotland. If you want to find out more about what it is, and how to use it, the first people to speak to are A&DS. Find out more about their role in empowering communities.

If you're looking to get involved in the spatial planning system, you'll find more information on the next page. This sets out our formal role, and gives details of other organisations that can provide support and advice.

3 The planning system

Getting permission for planned changes is a key step in any project that involves building work. For projects that involve historic buildings, you may need other consents as well as planning permission.

We are a statutory consultee in the planning system. Our role is to advise decision makers on applications for planning permission that may affect nationally important designated heritage assets. We also have a role in advising on applications for listed building consent and conservation area consent.

But we know that local communities are the ones who feel the impact of decisions on the ground. It's not always easy to know how to get your voice heard in the process.

If you want to find out about how you can get involved, or just want to understand the system better, PAS can help you. They offer free, impartial and confidential advice on planning issues.

You might also want to think about connecting up with your local Community Council. It is their job to represent the community to the local authority.

If local heritage is your focus, the Scottish Civic Trust, will want to help. They do planning advocacy work, and work to give communities the skills and knowledge to make their locality a better place.

The SURF network is the key place to start for information on community regeneration in Scotland. As Scotland's Regeneration Forum, SURF works to improve the lives and opportunities of residents in Scotland's disadvantaged communities.

If you are part of a project that will be making changes to the historic environment, you may need advice from us. You can find out more about the services we offer in the sections of our website on planning and consents.

4 Case study: Documenting Scotland's Urban Past with Glasgow Disability Alliance

GDA is a membership organisation that supports disabled people to participate and make valuable contributions to our families, communities, and society. They have over 4,500 members in the greater Glasgow area.

Members of their young people's network joined forces with our Scotland's Urban Past team to document their experiences of their urban environment.

In a series of workshops held in some of Glasgow's most inspiring buildings, the group developed skills in interpreting urban architecture and historical maps. They mapped places and journeys, and got hands-on with camera and filming equipment.

During the workshops, group members produced video interviews, personalised maps and art works celebrating their favourite places.

This project is a brilliant case of people sharing what is important to them in the area they live, having fun, and developing new skills.

You can find out more about the project on the Scotland's Urban Past website.

Visit Scotland's Urban Past

5 Case study: Edinburgh World Heritage Site Management Plan

During summer 2016, we went out to ask people for their thoughts on how Edinburgh's World Heritage Site is managed. We used the Place Standard Tool, which is a great way to start a conversation with people about the places they spend time.

We found out the concerns and ambitions of over 1,000 people. These fell under six key themes. These themes now form the basis for the new Management Plan, which was launched in 2018.

The five-year plan includes commitments to improve the quality of new development, manage tourism growth better, and deepen residents' awareness and understanding of the site. One of the 39 actions is creating 'Place Briefs' for redevelopment sites. These set out the city's expectations in terms of quality and 'fitting in' with the historical context, and improving local community engagement.

Using the Place Standard Tool in this way helped to connect the dots between community aspirations and tangible changes in how decisions are made on development proposals in Edinburgh.

The Edinburgh World Heritage team speak to the public at their stall at a local festival

During summer 2016, we asked people for their thoughts on how Edinburgh's World Heritage Site is managed.