Scotland’s planning service ‘in need of investment’

Progress in Scotland’s planning service is being made despite a significant decrease in resources, a report from RTPI Scotland has found.

According to ‘Progressing Performance: Investing in Scotland’s Planning Service’, the number of planning department staff in Scotland has fallen by almost 20 per cent since 2010 while gross expenditure in planning authorities will have dropped by £40 million between 2010/11 and 2015/16.

The report also highlighted that the cost of processing planning applications are not met by fees – on average only 63 per cent of costs are covered

Despite the loss of resources, average processing times for local planning applications have shortened by a week since 2013.

RTPI planning reportRTPI Scotland warned that the planning service is in need of investment and that innovative income generating strategies are explored to cover costs if the pace of house building is to increase across the country.

The report recommends that existing processes and procedures are ‘de-cluttered’ and that planning authorities are supported to continue to assess how their services are delivered to adapt to a changing resource context.

Pam Ewen, convenor of RTPI Scotland, said improving planning performance should remain a priority.

Pam said: “Planning is a vital player in supporting sustainable growth across Scotland. This is especially true in helping to stimulate and deliver new, quality housing at a time when it is needed most. Our report shows that we have seen planning authorities across Scotland being innovative and improving the quality of their service, despite significant resourcing issues.

“However, if we want continued progress we need to explore how to maximise investment in the planning service from the Scottish Government, local authorities and developers. This research I am sure will provide valuable information to the new review of the planning system.”

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