Mediation is a process, involving a neutral, independent, trained facilitator. A mediator assists parties with differences to communicate effectively, understand the underlying issues, assess risk and consider options to enable them to resolve their differences.
There has been a growing interest in the application of mediation in a planning context. In 2008 the Scottish Government, as part of a wide ranging reform of the planning system, commissioned a users guide to assist those with an interest in its application in this context.
During 2010, the Scottish Government commissioned a qualified and experienced mediator to provide mediation support in three individual planning disputes and invited participants making use of mediation to take part in this study. The pilot project outputs are:
An Outline for Potential Participants is also available.
Mediation in planning can be used in a number of circumstances and for different outcomes. It can be used to help build consensus, as with Government or Planning Authority consultations, and it is also a successful method in resolving disputes. Further details are available in section 3 of A Guide to the Use of Mediation in the Planning System in Scotland.
However, mediation cannot replace the statutory planning decision-making process and may not be appropriate if:
It is necessary to determine a general legal principle with wide application
There are significant issues of public interest which need to be resolved in a formal manner
There is an urgent need to provide a legal remedy or provide the protection of a court
Those who might take part are wholly unwilling to do so
Anyone with an interest in the planning issues being addressed can be involved in the mediation process. In planning matters, this may include planning officials, developers/applicants, key agencies (such as Scottish Natural Heritage, the Scottish Environment Protection Agency and Scottish Water), community councils and interested third parties. Mediation can be structured to include a number of parties depending on the circumstances.
Full details of who is involved, how to get started, frequently asked questions and examples of Mediation in Planning are contained in A Guide to the use of Mediation in the Planning System in Scotland.
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