Supporting planning authorities with Local Development Plans

A view of Edinburgh City from the Castle. There is a body of water and mountains in the background.
Published: 21/03/2023

(March 2023) 22 local authorities across Scotland have expressed their interest in the Key Agencies Group's new offer which aims to support collaborative place-based approaches to development plan preparations.

New legislation, policy and the Place Principle asks all sectors to take a place-based approach. The National Planning Framework 4 calls for radical change so we can tackle and adapt to climate change, restore biodiversity loss, improve health and wellbeing, reduce inequalities, build a wellbeing economy and create great places.

Draft guidance for Local Development Plans (LDPs) calls for new style plans that are place-based, prepared in a different way, look different and used differently to before.

And so, in February 2023, the Key Agencies Group invited expressions of interest for planning authorities interested in working with the group to pilot a collective place-based approach as part of development plan preparations in 2023-2024.

22 local authorities across Scotland expressed their interest in the offer. 

What the offer includes

The initial focus of the offer is to provide support for a place-based approach to gathering evidence and reporting, laying the foundations for potential ongoing collective work at proposed plan stage.

The Key Agencies will provide input through regular meetings and workshops to support place-based approaches to key stages of evidence gathering, analysis and reporting.

Next steps

The Key Agencies Group has been delighted by the level of response the offer has generated, which has exceeded expectations.

The next stage is to arrange scoping meetings with all interested authorities to agree on next steps.

Given the scale of response, the Key Agencies Group will not be in a position to give focussed support to all who have expressed an interest. However, key agencies will continue to provide input to all local authorities in line with the agencies' duty to co-operate in LDP preparations.

Agencies see this pilot work very much as a collective learning opportunity and will look to capture, develop and share a range of transferable learning from the work on an ongoing basis for the benefit of all authorities.

“As Agencies our activities have a significant impact on our places in a wide variety of ways. Over recent years we have found that working together in collaboration with other stakeholders, to help shape our places of the future, results in a range of benefits including helping to unpack complex issues, aligning our evidence, knowledge and resources to deliver efficiencies and most importantly improving outcomes on the ground for people and their communities. The new style local development plans provide a significant opportunity to work in this way to realise these benefits across Scotland.”

Katherine Lakeman, Principal Policy Officer (Planning), Scottish Environment Protection Agency

The Key Agencies Group commitment to the Place Principle

The Place Principle is where people, location and resources combine to create a sense of identity and purpose. It plays a crucial role in addressing the needs and realising the full potential of communities.

The Key Agencies’ collective potential to support planning authorities in shaping places for the long-term public interest is significant and essential in the delivery of sustainable, liveable and productive places.


"Meeting the challenges of the nature and climate emergencies doesn't rest with one or two organisations. Working collectively we can help to ensure the new local development plans can meet this challenge head on."

Fiona Rice, Planning and Environmental Assessment Manager, NatureScot

"Our historic environment encompasses the places and spaces where we live, work and play and helps to connect people to place. Historic Environment Scotland welcomes this important opportunity to work collaboratively with planning authorities and key agencies to support placemaking through development planning and to address the challenges we face together."

Andrew Stevenson, Senior Environmental Assessment and Advice Officer, Historic Environment Scotland

Our work with local authorities through the Green recovery offer tells us the value and benefit of taking such a place-based collaborative approach. We will continue to share our learnings and updates for this project on our website. To stay up to date, sign up to our newsletter below.