Members' Login

Scottish Planning Policy (Scottish Government 2009)

Submission from ALGAO:Scotland

SPP consultation
Directorate for the Built Environment
The Scottish Government
2H Victoria Quay
Edinburgh EH6 6QQ

Dear Ms Richardson,

Scottish Planning Policy (SPP) Consultation

ALGAO:Scotland represents Local Authority and National Park archaeological services in Scotland and is part of the UK-wide organisation, ALGAO:UK. Our organisation provides a single voice for archaeologists working through these authorities, and undertakes advocacy for the value of the historic environment and its appropriate conservation and management through local government.

The Association works with central and devolved governments, national agencies and a broad range of other organisations to strengthen and develop the role of local government historic environment service in delivering local, regional and national government policy. To this effect the Association continues to contribute to the development of strategic policy for protection, sustainable management, interpretation and promotion of the historic environment and to develop and promote standards and best practice in the historic environment profession.

The historic environment is valued as a cultural, environmental, social and economic asset that makes a major contribution to the quality of people's lives. Archaeological resource management in local government plays a fundamental role in the management of the historic environment, working to deliver government objectives in protecting and sustaining the historic environment for the benefit of current and future generations, and in promoting awareness, understanding, appreciation and enjoyment of this unique resource. This includes a role in delivering the government agenda for community engagement and sustainable development.

Local authorities are responsible for the conservation of the 95% of the historic environment that is not afforded statutory protection, encompassing archaeology, the built environment and historic landscapes. Local authorities provide both a strategic framework for the protection of historical and archaeological sites at local level, and the policy context for managing change on a case-by-case basis through day-to-day advice and information. In this local authorities aim to promote the highest sustainable quality of life and environment and to deliver value for money and quality services. We therefore welcome this opportunity to comment upon the Scottish Planning Policy (SPP) consultative draft and we would like to offer the following comments and recommendations.


QUESTIONS

Q1. Overall, is national planning policy clearer and easier to understand in the consolidated SPP compared with existing SPPs and NPPGs?
We feel that a new consolidated SPP should in theory make it easier to find and cross-reference relevant Government Planning Policy guidance.

Q2. Do you support the proposed structure and format of the consolidated SPP?
No comment.

Q3. Do you agree with the removal of advice and background information from the consolidated SPP?
Although we recognise that in order to produce a single consolidated policy that such a move was seen by the Scottish Government as necessary we do have strong concerns in this matter in relation to the Historic Environment. The consultative draft states that detailed guidance on policy and legislation is laid out in the SHEP, but the vast amount of unscheduled & unlisted historic environment is lacking in detailed guidance in the SHEP, and this is the area which falls largely within the care of Local Authorities and by implication to the advice given within SPP23 & PAN42. Accordingly without the detailed guidance as laid out in SPP23 and PAN42 we feel that this will lead to a severe weakening in the delivery of Planning Advise and by extension to the aims of the SPP which seeks to protect our nation's heritage.

Therefore we strongly recommend that if the consolidated SPP is be published without detailed advice and background information that an updated PAN42 or equivalent is urgently published in consultation with the sector.

Q4. Does this paragraph provide a clear overview of the expectations for community engagement in the modernised planning system?
Yes we feel that this paragraph provides a clear overview.

Q5. Is the status of this section in relation to the Planning etc. (Scotland) Act 2006 sufficiently clear?
Yes we feel that the status of this section is sufficiently clear but could be improved by additional guidance on how it can be achieved as 'Sustainable economic growth' is one of the key themes on which this SPP is based and is also a phrase often used to justify policies and development.

Also clarification needs to be made over the term 'Sustainable economic growth'. Following the recent passing of amendment S3M-3528.2 to motion S3M-3528 tabled by Robin Harper MSP in the debate on 26th February 2009 on the Scottish Marine Bill 'Sustainable Seas for All' (http://scottish-parliament.net/business/chamber/mop-09/mop09-02-26.htm) the term 'environmentally sustainable economic development' was adopted by the Scottish Government. Accordingly references to 'sustainable economic growth' we suggest should be changed to 'environmentally-sustainable economic growth' to reflect current Parliamentary thinking.

Q6. Is the role of the planning system in assisting climate change mitigation and adaptation clearly highlighted throughout this SPP?
Yes we feel that the role of planning in assisting climate change mitigation is clearly highlighted in this SPP.

Q7. Is the contribution of the planning system to sustainable economic growth, as explained in this section, clear and easy to understand?
On the whole this section is clear and easy to understand however we feel that the term 'built heritage' at the end of the fourth bullet point in paragraph 40 should be changed to Historic Environment. This term is used later in the SPP when dealing with heritage and will allow clearer cross referencing and understanding.

In addition we feel that section 43 dealing with previously developed land (Brownfield sites) must contain reference to archaeology and historic built environment which by their very nature are archaeological sites. Often urban and industrial sites can contain often deep and complex archaeological remains and historic buildings can act as both opportunities for sustainable economic growth but can also be significant constraints upon development. Accordingly it is important that the archaeological implications of such sites are identified at an early stage in order that the appropriate mitigation measures are put in place to ensure both the interests of the historic environment and future development.

Q8. Have the main elements of national planning policy relating to town centres and retailing been included and are they clearly explained?
By and large yes, however the important contribution that the historic environment plays in creating a 'Sense of Place' must be mentioned and recognised here.

Q9. Have the main areas of national planning policy relating to housing been included and are they clearly explained?
No comment.

Q10. Have the main areas of national planning policy relating to rural development been included and are they clearly explained?
Yes and we welcome the statement in paragraph 71 that whilst Planning authorities should encourage economic activity and diversification this should be undertaken 'whilst ensuring that the distinctiveness of rural areas ……. the natural and cultural heritage are protected and enhanced'.

Q11. Do you support the proposed policy on protection of prime agricultural land?
No comment.

Q12. Do you support the removal of the specific requirement for development plans to classify coastal areas as developed, undeveloped or isolated?
In essence we don't have any concerns over this move. However the isolated coastal zones of Scotland contain some of Scotland's most significant archaeological and historic monuments and landscapes (e.g. World Heritage sites of Neolithic Orkney, St Kilda). Therefore in terms of the 'isolated Coast', we feel that it is important that this significance and value too Scotland's Heritage is recognised here and that the historic environment is specifically mentioned in paragraph 76 along with other criteria such as environmental, spiritual and economic values.

Secondly, no mention is made of how the new marine planning system will interface with the existing terrestrial one. It is likely that the implications for the historic environment situated within the coastal zone area could be particularly significant. Accordingly it is recommended that the final SPP contain a policy statement on this issue.

Q13. Have the main elements of national planning policy relating to fish farming been included and are they clearly explained?
On the whole yes, however the second last sentence in paragraph 78 (outlining criteria Local Authorities should take into account when designating sensitive areas) must include the Marine Historic Environment in order to bring it in line with the forthcoming Maritime component of both SHEP and the Scottish Marine Bill.

Q14. Have the main elements of national planning policy relating to the historic environment been included and are they clearly explained?
The consolidation of national planning policies relating to the historic environment as outlined within paragraphs 82-91 of this consultative draft contain several substantive changes of key and fundamental elements of current National Planning Policy which must be addressed in line with the aims of the consolidation process which clearly states in its Introductory section (p7) that; 'The consolidation …..is not a review of established policy' and that 'The new style of SPP requires a different approach to expressing and explaining national planning policy, but the changes in wording do not, in most cases, represent a change in policy. A change in policy would mean that the intended outcome of the policy is different.'

However in the following areas there appears to have been significant changes in National Policy from the previous SPP23. We believe strongly that this must be addressed within the final version of the Consolidated SPP.

  • Omission of the phrase 'Material Consideration' in respect of Non-designated Historic Environment Assets
    Section 47 of SPP23 clearly states that 'Government Policy is to protect and preserve non-designated, other historic environmental interest, in situ wherever feasible and as such, they are material considerations in the planning process'.

    This statement is fundamental to the management and protection of over 90% of our Nation's Heritage which is undesignated and whose only statutory protection lies through the planning process. Accordingly it is unacceptable that the new SPP fails to mention this important phrasing in either paragraphs 88 or 89 when outlining planning policy relating to non-designated archaeological sites and monuments. Not only is this a weakening of the force of the previous advice contained within SPP23 but will lead to the loss of significant archaeological and historic assets.

    Therefore if, as stated in the Introduction to the consultative draft that the new SPP document is intended to be a consolidation of earlier Historic Environment policies and not a change, then this apparent substantive change of Scottish Planning Policy in dealing with non-designated archaeological and other historic environment assets is not considered to be acceptable. It is therefore strongly recommended that the phrase 'material consideration' is re-inserted within the final Consolidated SPP, both within paragraphs 88 and 89.

  • Omission of references to Specialist Advice
    Paragraph 21 of the current Scottish Government Planning Policy on the Historic Environment (SPP23) clearly discusses and recognises the importance of 'informed and sensitive management of change', based on a clear understanding of any asset.

    SPP23 paragraph 22 goes on to recognises that the key to the delivery of this is that 'Planning authorities should also ensure that they can call on sufficient specialist conservation and archaeological advice to inform their plan and decision making and to advise owners and managers of historic assets and other members of the public.' Further, paragraph 23 goes on to state that in order to support their development management function, planning authorities 'should ensure that they have access to a Sites and Monuments Record (SMR) and/or a Historic Environment Record (HER)'. Professional archaeological services are essential not only for maintenance, updating and interpretation of the information contained within HER/SMRs, as without professional advice HER/SMRs are merely an archive of records, but are also essential to the efficient delivery of and appropriate input to the planning and development management process.

    Given the importance given to the provision of Local Authority specialist advice within SPP23, the absence of any mention of it within the new consolidated SPP is regarded as a substantive and also an unacceptable change to Government Planning Policy. We feel strongly that the new SPP must recognise the essential role that archaeological and conservation advisory services play within and for Local Authorities, and should also encourage local authorities to allocate appropriate, and sufficient, resources and personnel for the provision of such advice.

    We strongly recommend that the final consolidated SPP be amended to reinstate this current government policy regarding the provision of specialist archaeological and conservation advisory services to Local Authorities.

  • Paragraph 82
    On the whole we support the positive statement that the historic environment is a key part of Scotland's cultural heritage and that it enhances national, regional and local distinctiveness, contributing to sustainable economic growth and regeneration. However we think this policy statement is too narrow compared with that previously contained with in SPP23. It is recommended that this paragraph should re-incorporate reference to the Historic Environment's important role in promoting and providing educational, training and employment opportunities.

    Secondly the draft SPP also makes no mention of the possible roles that community and non-statutory organisations can have in safeguarding the historic environment. This is a significant omission, and the SPP should encourage Local Authorities to seek partnerships with other bodies, whenever feasible, to foster and secure better protection for the historic environment. Community partnership could have immense benefits for the sustainable development and management of the historic environment, joint-working and outcomes.

  • Paragraph 83
    Although we welcome the statement that 'in some cases the importance of the historic environment and its setting is such that change may be difficult or inappropriate' the choice of the word inappropriate would appear to be a weakening of the current planning policy as stated in SPP23 paragraph 21; 'In some cases the importance of the heritage asset is such that change may be difficult, indeed it may not be possible…'.

    It is important to recognise that archaeological and historic environment assets are both a finite and a non-renewable resource, vulnerable to change. Further the majority of these sites and monuments may have no intrinsic economic or commercial value and are therefore extremely vulnerable to change and need to be carefully considered in the application of planning policy. Preservation in situ is therefore an important and key underlying policy of the current SPP23. It is vital that the new Consolidated SPP recognises that, in certain circumstances, change may not indeed be possible or desirable for the sustainable management of particular assets.

    Accordingly we strongly recommend that the term 'may not be possible in certain circumstances' be reinstated in place of the word inappropriate, as it is both a clearer and a more accurate statement. Furthermore, this phraseology better reflects the important statement defined in paragraph 21 of the current SPP23, concerning the management of the historic environment namely it is about the 'informed and sensitive management of change'.

  • Paragraph 89
    SPP23 paragraph states that 'the planning authority, before determining the application, should be satisfied that the developer has made appropriate provision for the excavation, recording, analysis, publication and archiving of the remains' confirming the important policy laid down in NPPG5 that it is the responsibility of the developer to pay for the excavation, analysis and publication of archaeological and historic environment assets affected by development. Direct reference to this central planning policy is absent from this paragraph and we therefore strongly recommended that the highlighted phrase is re-inserted within the final Consolidated SPP.

  • Paragraph 91
    The protection afforded to gardens and designed-landscapes appears to have been weakened within this consultative draft SPP from the current policy in SPP23, namely it states that they 'can be a material consideration' rather than 'are a material consideration'. We therefore recommend that this wording is changed accordingly.

Q15. Do you agree with the principle of limiting local non-statutory designations to two types?
No Comment.

Q16. Have the main elements of national planning policy relating to landscape and natural heritage been included and are they clearly explained? It is widely recognised that Scotland's current landscape is the result of the action of man with virtually no area unaffected. Accordingly, when discussing policies relating to landscape and natural heritage we feel that clearer mention and cross referencing to the historic environment should be made throughout. This could lead to a more holistic approach to the conservation of our historic landscapes and avoid potential unnecessary conflict and aid better understanding between the natural and historic environmental interests.

Q17. Have the main elements of national planning policy relating to open space been included and are they clearly explained? No comment.

Q18. Have the main elements of national planning policy relating to green belts been included and are they clearly explained? No comment.

Q19. Do you support the retention of the policy on the use of maximum parking standards and the relocation of national maximum parking standards into advice? No comment.

Q20. Have the main elements of national planning policy relating to transport been included and are they clearly explained? No comment.

Q21. Do you agree with the integration of policy on spatial frameworks for wind farms over 20 megawatts generating capacity with general planning policy on wind farm development? No comment.

Q22. Have the main elements of national planning policy relating to renewable energy been included and are they clearly explained? On the whole we agree that the main elements of national planning policy have been included. However we recommend the following changes/amendments:

  • Paragraph 141; for clarity the term 'built heritage' in the second criteria bullet point should be changed to 'the historic environment' to provide clarity and easier cross-referencing of terms throughout the SPP.
  • Paragraph 143; the first spatial framework bullet should include reference to the historic environment in terms of archaeology, Conservation areas and World Heritage Sites and that their physical and visual protection are material within the planning system.
  • Paragraph 147; the last sentence should include the term 'and the historic environment.'

Q23. Have the main elements of national planning policy relating to flooding and drainage been included and are they clearly explained? On the whole we agree that the main elements of national planning policy have been included. However we recommend the following changes/amendments:

  • Paragraph 159; for clarity the wording 'historic and natural' should be added before environmental implications in the second last sentence.

Q24. Have the main elements of national planning policy relating to waste management been included and are they clearly explained? No comment.

Q25. Have the main elements of national planning policy relating to mineral extraction been included and are they clearly explained? On the whole we agree that the main elements of national planning policy have been included. However we recommend the following changes/amendments:

  • Paragraph 168; We recommend in line with the principles of SHEP, which recognise that archaeological remains are an important and finite resource, that Development plans in this context must considered all historic assets and not just the designated sites.
  • Paragraph 173; for clarity the term 'built heritage' in the fourth bullet point should be changed to 'the historic environment' to provide clarity and easier cross-referencing of terms throughout the SPP.

Q26. Have the main elements of national planning policy relating to opencast coal extraction been included and are they clearly explained? On the whole we agree that the main elements of national planning policy have been included. However we recommend the following changes/amendments:

  • Paragraph 179; for clarity the term 'built heritage' in the fourth bullet point should be changed to 'the historic environment' to provide clarity and easier cross-referencing of terms throughout the SPP.
  • Paragraph 181; for clarity the term 'built heritage' in the last bullet point should be changed to 'archaeological and built heritage' to provide clarity and easier cross-referencing of terms throughout the SPP

Q27. Have the main elements of national planning policy relating to telecommunications been included and are they clearly explained? The erection of telecommunication infrastructure can have a major impact upon the historic built environment not only physically but also upon there setting. Accordingly it is essential that this impact is considered when selecting sites and designing base stations. Accordingly to provide better clarity and easier cross-referencing a separate bullet point should be added to both paragraph 185 & 187 requiring that the impact of these works upon the historic environment is assessed.

Q28. How might the consolidated SPP impact positively or negatively on equalities groups? No comment.

Q29. Will any groups not identified already in the partial EqIA be affected by the consolidated SPP? No comment.

We hope that our comments and recommendations are incorporated within the final document. ALGAO:Scotland would also be pleased to be involved at an early stage in the formulating of any revised version of PAN 42 or any other subsidiary guidance or advice that may be forthcoming.

Yours faithfully,

John A Lawson
Chair ALGAO:Scotland