Mixed results for annual planning performance



The average time taken to decide on planning applications in Scotland has sped up for local developments but decisions on major developments are taking longer than the previous year, new statistics have revealed.

Annual and quarterly planning performance figures, released today by Scotland’s Chief Statistician, found that the average decision time for decisions such as household extensions, smaller housing and retail developments, as well as various other types of local developments in 2014/15 was 10.1 weeks, 3 days quicker than the average of 10.6 weeks in the previous year.

Improvements have been seen across all categories of local developments, except for minerals and fish farming developments. Local housing developments have seen average times improve by 5 days to 14.5 weeks. A total of 22 out of 34 planning authorities have reported year-on-year improvements in their local development average decision times.

However, when dealing with developments of 50 or more homes, certain waste, water, transport and energy-related developments as well as larger retail developments, decision times in 2014/15 were 36.6 weeks on average, 2 weeks slower than the average of 34.6 weeks in the previous year.

The change has been driven by increases in average decision times for business & industry, minerals and ‘other’ developments. In contrast, major housing developments have seen average times improve by 4 days to 41.3 weeks. There have also been improvements for electricity generation and waste management developments.

Planning Performance July 2015
Planning Performance July 2015

The statistics found that average figures based on a relatively small number of major development applications can be skewed by a few lengthy decisions. More than 70 per cent of major applications in 2014/15 were decided in a time quicker than the average of 36.6 weeks.

The number of local development decisions in 2014/15 totalled 29,738, a decrease of 1 per cent (288 applications) from the previous year. This drop has been largely due to fewer electricity, business & industry and ‘other local’ applications.

The number of major development decisions in 2014/15 totalled 298, a drop of 4 per cent (12 applications) from 2013/14. This decrease has been mostly due to fewer electricity generation applications.

In quarter 4 of 2014/15 alone, the overall average decision time for local developments remained stable when compared with the previous quarter, and is quicker than equivalent quarters in previous years.

For quarter 4 of 2014/15, the average decision time for local developments was 10.1 weeks. This is similar to the previous quarter (10.2 weeks), an improvement of over 2 days when compared to the equivalent quarter in 2013/14 (10.5 weeks), and an improvement of over 12 days when compared to quarter 4 of 2012/13 (11.9 weeks).

The overall average decision time for major developments improved in quarter 4 of 2014/15 when compared with the previous quarter, but was slower than the equivalent quarter in the previous year.

For quarter 4 of 2014/15, the average decision time for Major Developments was 40.7 weeks. This is almost 4 weeks quicker than the previous quarter (44.5 weeks), but is slower than the equivalent quarter in 2013/14 (35.2 weeks) and the equivalent quarter in 2012/13 (36.6 weeks).

These figures exclude pre 3rd August 2009 legacy cases.

The overall rate of approvals for all types of application was 93.9 per cent for the year 2014/15. This is similar to the previous year (94.1 per cent), which was the highest approval rate since 2010/11 when the rate was 92.9 per cent.