Further to my correspondence yesterday I write with more detail on our Main Issues Report consultation and how and why we have encouraged responses to this consultation.
 
The main reason for providing an online system is to assist in speeding up the planning process, which is a central aim of the Planning etc. (Scotland) Act 2006 and the reform of the Scottish planning system.  TAYplan has endorsed this in encouraging submissions to be made online, whilst recognising that not everyone has the ability to do this and providing hard copies of the questionnaire.
 
The decision to encourage online responses was taken by TAYplan’s Joint Committee in considering the consultation programme and in approving the Main Issues Report and related documents.  This is becoming a more common approach by planning authorities.
 
Any person contacting us who has been unable to respond online or has had ongoing difficulties in doing so we have encouraged them to submit their response in writing to us.  In the first instance we have provided assistance as required to aid online submissions. A number of responses have been submitted by letter and TAYplan will upload these to the Limehouse system.  The majority of responses have successfully been submitted online by the respondent.
 
We have learnt lessons in the use of Limehouse and also the design of our questionnaire and these will be used to make improvements for our next consultation.  One of the most common reasons people were calling us related to the log in.  Customers were trying to log on through our staff log in area, which colleagues in IT have now relabelled so it is clear this is for staff only.
 
The Main Issues Report and related documents have been made available through public libraries, planning offices and through Community Councils together with hard copies other questionnaire and details of how to respond.  Responding to the Main Issues Report and related documents was advertised in a number of ways including by writing to us at the TAYplan address, through a paper copy of the questionnaire and online.
 
We have had mixed views on the online system, some have found this straightforward and helpful and I have had a few emails raising concern.  Beyond the group which you represent I have not been made aware that people who may have wanted to respond have not done so because of the online system.  This of course is of concern to me and we are very happy to have comments sent to us direct.  TAYplans website and the consultation material does indicate a preference for online submissions but also makes clear that hard copies of the questionnaire can be submitted and that we are happy to send these out on request.  Copies of the questionnaire were distribued in libraries etc.
 
I will be presenting a report to the next TAYplan Joint Committee on 31st August 2010 providing an overview of the consultations responses.  TAYplan’s Committee Reports are available for viewing through our website at ‘http://www.tayplan-sdpa.gov.uk/about-us/joint-committee’.
 
I hope this explains some further information on the consultation and look forward to receiving any further submissions.  Regards,

 
Pamela Ewen
TAYplan Strategic Development Planning Authority Manager
Tel: 01382 307181
Mobile: 07985 878560