Participation in both development control and plan preparation is one of the most contentious aspects of planning practice and yet one of the least understood. Questions and debate have recently emerged as to how participation can best be taken forward particularly in the demanding area of development control. One overlooked aspect in this debate is the different approaches that operate in the UK at national rather than sub-national level. The rights of those most likely to be affected by development proposals in planning applications vary according to the different planning jurisdictions in the UK. While current thinking has focused on England and Wales, the procedures for notifying neighbours in Scotland are notable both for the length of time taken to involve the public and others relative to those south of the border, and because they are based on a system of self-certification by applicants for planning permission. The recent shift towards a more 'commodified' planning system in the UK through the expanded use of Citizen Charter indices points towards a more prescriptive approach to notification in England and Wales not dissimilar to the Scottish system. This paper explores the established notification arrangements in Scotland which was the subject of a study commissioned by the Scottish (Scottish Office Environment Office (SOEnvD), 1995a). It compares and contrasts these arrangements with those applying elsewhere in the UK, discusses the ethical and political dilemmas involved and proposes changes to these procedures, not only in terms of government priorities for an efficient, effective and economical planning service, but also in the terms of increasing fairness and reducing complexity. In doing so, it provides timely comparisons and lessons covering the advantages and disadvantages of different systems within the UK and the implications of the English system moving towards a more prescriptive approach.