The Canadian philosopher Jean Vanier said “Many people are good at talking about what they are doing, but in fact do little. Others do a lot but don't talk about it; they are the ones who make a community live.”

I’m proud to be part of a fabulous community who work tirelessly to create a happy, supportive and healthy place to live. I was therefore excited to hear Kevin Stewart, the Scottish Government Minister for Local Government & Housing, highlight the importance of communities engaging in the planning process when he was speaking at the Planning Seminar we hosted last month to discuss the Planning (Scotland) Bill.

Whether you are a developer, landowner or member of your own local community, there are 3 key features of our legal system which can be used to help create great communities.

Planning Process

The Planning (Scotland) Bill introduces a new right for communities to produce local place plans as it looks to ‘Empower people and communities to get more involved and to have a real influence over future development’.  The Local Development Plan will need to take account of the Local Place Plans so there is a real opportunity for communities to come together to shape the future of development in their area. This will require a change of focus and communities and developers will need to work in partnership to achieve their combined aims.

Community Interest Companies

Having helped plan how their area develops, there are opportunities for communities to play a part in ensuring that their vision is realised through taking control of parts of the development. Community Interest Companies (‘CIC’) are a special type of limited company which exist to benefit the community rather than private shareholders.  Developers are increasingly seeing the benefit of setting up CICs to own and manage open space and community buildings within developments. Residents have the opportunity to become members of the CIC and so have a real share and control over the management of the land.

Conservation Bodies and Burdens

How many times do you hear people asking where our Conservation Areas of the future are? Maintaining design standards within a development is key for both developers and the community.  Usually, it falls to the Planning Authority to enforce conditions on the planning permission for the development, but another way to ensure that the quality remains is through setting up a conservation body which is responsible for enforcing design standards. As each owner in the community can become a member of the conservation body the community effectively becomes self-regulating. Working together towards a common design goal provides reassurance to the community, the developer and the Planning Authority that future development will maintain the character of the area.

So with a little less talking and a bit more action using these key resources, we can all help to create well-designed developments which meet the needs of each community.