Homes for Scotland: SCN survey results highlight system is broken

Homes for Scotland: SCN survey results highlight system is broken

Liz Hamilton

The trade body for Scotland’s housebuilders has said the results of an SCN survey that highlights the country’s broken planning system are “truly dreadful” but of “no surprise” to its members.

Respondents to an SCN survey found that 96.3% of the country’s architects, housebuilders, developers and planning consultants believed that their businesses had suffered because of local authority planning delays, with the same percentage stating that the delays have increased since the Covid pandemic. Almost all of the respondents (99.3%) do not believe that the situation will improve.

Responding to the survey results, Homes for Scotland director of planning Liz Hamilton said: “These results will appear truly dreadful to many but sadly they are no surprise to anyone trying to secure planning approval for new homes.  Planning is the biggest blocker to the delivery of much-needed new homes of all tenures, a point which was reinforced to the Minister for Housing when he joined the most recent meeting of the Homes for Scotland Board last week.

“The most recent planning statistics are a clear indication that the system is broken. Despite there being half the number of major applications compared to 2019 numbers, average decision times remain above pre-Covid levels at 39.3 weeks, nearly two and a half times the 16-week statutory time frame. With ever-increasing planning application fees and further consultation expected from the Scottish Government on this later in the year, applicants have every right to be very concerned for the future. Why should an applicant continue to pay more for a poorer service?

“NPF4 has unfortunately been a missed opportunity to improve this dire situation, instead it has increased the complexity and restrictiveness of the planning system, placing even more demands on decision-makers than existed before at a time when local authority resourcing is already under immense strain.

“This problem is compounded by the fact that, as our members report back, it has never been more difficult to contact local authority planners. Ultimately, a lack of new homes being approved doesn’t just affect the new build sector, whether private or affordable, as there are huge knock-on impacts to the demands placed on the second-hand homes market for sale or rent.

“Planning departments need to be properly resourced and staff contactable when working from home. Unless something radical is done to address the situation, the gap between the housing haves and have-nots will only continue to increase.”

SCN is still keen to hear your experiences of Scotland’s planning system. Please send any correspondence, in confidence, to SCN editor Kieran Findlay via

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