Progress on planning performance but challenges remain on major applications

Alex Neil
Alex Neil

Planning authorities have been urged to continue to speed up decisions on major applications after new statistics revealed progress has been made on planning performance.

The Annual Report of Planning Performance showed that in 2013-14 there was an overall reduction in decision times but communities secretary Alex Neil said that there are still challenges in processing major applications.

Mr Neil said: “Effective planning is crucial to promoting sustainable economic growth and my overall focus is speeding up the planning system.

“The Annual Report demonstrates an ‘open for business’ approach, with a strong focus on project management and pre-application discussions to engage with applicants early in the process. I am also pleased to see increasing collaboration across authorities to share best practice.

“There is an encouraging overall reduction in decision making timescales, yet performance is extremely variable across development types and across the country. The average decision time for major developments in 2013/14 was as low as seven weeks in one authority, but there were still a number of long running, unresolved applications slowing performance. These types of cases must be reduced so that effort and resource can focus on dealing applications that will contribute to a strong economy. I expect to see sustained improvements.”

A new planning performance framework was introduced by planning authorities in 2012. Developed by Heads of Planning Scotland, and supported by the Scottish Government, the framework captures key elements of a high-performing planning service, such as:

  • speed of decision-making
  • certainty of timescales, process and advice
  • delivery of good quality development
  • project management
  • clear communications and open engagement
  • an overall ‘open for business’ attitude.

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