Homes for Scotland responds to call from Planning Improvement Champion

Homes for Scotland responds to call from Planning Improvement Champion

Jane Wood (Chris Watt Photography)

Homes for Scotland (HFS), the sector body representing the country’s home builders, has responded to the call for ideas on planning system ambitions requested by the new planning improvement champion Craig McLaren.

With the planning system having a major impact on the delivery of much needed new homes of all tenures but under considerable strain as a result of resourcing issues and the additional burdens placed on it by National Planning Framework 4 (NPF4), HFS has welcomed the opportunity to address the questions posed which are:

  • What are the outcomes we need the planning system to deliver to have an impact?
  • What makes a high-performing planning authority?
  • How can we measure this?

In its submission, HFS highlights the Scottish Government’s “Housing to 2040” vision which states “overall we need to have many more homes than ever before” and NPF4’s Quality Homes policy, the intent of which is “to encourage, promote and facilitate the delivery of more high quality, affordable and sustainable homes”.

It also notes the currently “unacceptable” timescales for planning determinations for home builders of all sizes, emphasising the impact this has on the delivery of new homes through increased costs and the unlocking of new housing sites.

Key issues raised by HFS include:

  • Sharp fee increases over recent years which have not resulted in any associated upturn in performance
  • Difficulty in contacting case officers following the increase in flexible working, with email largely the only method of communication

In addition to this, HFS notes the need for a simplified approach for SME home builders which takes cognisance of their particular challenges and works with them rather than against

HFS chief executive, Jane Wood, said: “We are grateful to Craig for posing these questions and allowing us to share our views, particularly in the context of three local authorities now having declared housing emergencies.

“The planning system is fundamental to Scotland’s social wellbeing and economic success as well as supporting the transition to net zero. What we need now is for confidence to be re-established to encourage more investment in housing and more sites for new homes to be brought forward.

“We fully appreciate the pressure our planning authority colleagues are under and are committed to playing our part in ensuring the system is adequately resourced and has the data it needs to meet Scotland’s varied housing needs and aspirations.”

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