Homes for Scotland questions quality of local planning decisions

Homes for Scotland questions quality of local planning decisions

Liz Hamilton

The latest planning appeals figures released by the Scottish Government show that the correct decisions are not being made at a local level, according to Homes for Scotland.

The Planning and Environmental Appeals Division’s annual report shows that 164 local authority planning decisions out of 367 were overturned by the Scottish Government in 2021/22, a rate of 45%.

The most affected local authority area was Argyll and Bute where six out of seven decisions were overturned. East Dunbartonshire, South Ayrshire, Dundee City and Highland Councils all saw more than 60% of the decisions they made overturned.

In total, 18 of Scotland’s 32 local authorities had a rate of more than half of decisions being lost on appeal by Scottish Government ministers.

Earlier this week, Conservative MSP Miles Briggs said he is to bring forward a Local Government Powers and Protection Bill to ensure “no planning decisions made locally would be overturned”, but Homes for Scotland believes that the volume of appeals should highlight the process of local decision-making.

Head of planning Liz Hamilton said: “The latest figures, that 45% of all planning appeals are overturned, shine a light on the poor quality of planning decisions continuing to be made at a local level. There should be no need for the volume of appeals being reported if local decisions were made according to the merits of an application, and if it complies with local planning policy. Too often, however, it seems that development is considered by local authority Planning Committees to be too contentious and a vote loser.

“This is why decisions are then often overturned at a national level, when they are scrutinised by the independent Planning and Environmental Appeals Division. As part of the appeal process, an independent reporter is tasked with making a decision on an application taking into account the planning merits of that particular case.

“Data should be further analysed to see how many appeals were the result of elected members going against planning officer recommendations, especially as the local decisions will have been made in the run-up to local elections. While planning will always be political, we would urge all parties to consider the implications on the ground for those in need of a new home that they can afford and meets their needs.”

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