FIFEplan: What you need to know about the Local Development Plan

If you want to have a say about development in Fife, especially major developments such as new housing or retail complexes, then you need to know about Local Development Plans and get in involved in the process by which they come into being.

Local Development Plans establish what kind of development can take place where and provide a kind of blueprint for developers. If a site is zoned for development in the Local Development Plan, a developer stands a good chance of winning consent (so long as s/he also complies with relevant planning policy and guidance); if it’s not zoned, the developer will have to find arguments why the site is nevertheless suitable for development and the chances of gaining consent are much lower.

In other words, waiting until there is a planning application to object to a development happening at all, is too late if the site has already been zoned for development in the Local Development Plan.

FIFEplan is the Local Development Plan which the Scottish Government requires Fife Council to draw up. Together with the Strategic Development Plans, TAYplan and SESplan, it forms the statutory development plan for Fife once adopted.

FIFEplan is expected to be adopted within the next four weeks. It is now too late to influence its contents and it has been through a lengthy procedure of local, council and government consultation which you can read about here and here.

While planning for the next 10 years, FIFEplan is due to be replaced by FIFEplan2 in 2022. In other words, Fife Council’s planning department will shortly set about creating FIFEplan2. This is the process communities and individuals anxious about future speculation and development need to be involved in.

The timetable for this process has not yet been drawn up, but it will broadly follow the stages of the first FIFEplan. Fife Council planners expect to be getting going on it by summer 2018 – they have to wait for SESplan2 to be approved to find out Fife’s housing allocation and also for new planning legislation which is coming through Holyrood.

The first thing that will happen is that Fife Council will put out a call for sites, and developers will write in with suggestions. At this point, communities and residents who have a concern that a particular site should not be developed can also write in. Just as developers can ask to speak to someone from the development plan team at Fife Council to lobby for a site, so can concerned members of the public who don’t want to see a particular site developed. This won’t happen before next summer.

The next point for community involvement in the process will be if, as expected, Fife Council runs the Community Matters stage, in which the development plan team contacts community groups to share their ideas with the planners to help them understand what what matters to community councils and local community groups to inform the vision, strategy, and policies for the new Local Development Plan. You can see some examples of this work for communities such as Boarhills and Dunino and Kingsbarns during the first FIFEplan via the links here.

The next crucial stage for individuals and communities to contribute is when the Main Issues Report is published. This lists all sites which have been suggested for zoning for development in FIFEplan2, with Fife planning giving their views on each site’s viability via a traffic light system. This is the time for formal written objections by community councils and individuals. Even if the planning department gives a site a red light (ie that it should not be zoned for development in FIFEplan2), it is worth objectors nevertheless submitting their arguments for rejection as formal comments.

Councillors will keep communities informed about the progress of FIFEplan2 and especially opportunities for consultation, but the best thing you can do if you want to be involved is to sign up here for regular email updates from the development plan team at Fife Council.

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