Scottish Government opens consultation on planning system modernisation
The Scottish Government has set out 20 proposals for revamping the system, which will support economic growth, delivery of houses and increase community involvement in planning decisions. They form a consultation which will pave the way for a planning bill to be brought forward this year.
The proposals build on recommendations of an independent review carried out by a panel of experts last year. Key changes include zoning more land for housing, promoting self-build and removing the need to apply for planning permission for more types of development. The consultation also seeks views on new rights for communities to produce their own plans for their local area.
Planning minister Kevin Stewart visited the Pennywell development in Edinburgh, where he launched the consultation. The project will deliver 719 new energy efficient homes for the area with 356 properties for affordable rent and 363 for private sale, and has been a catalyst for wider regeneration through providing infrastructure improvements, local investment, local jobs, training opportunities and community engagement.
He said: “Planning affects everyone’s lives, from making sure we have the right types of homes to driving forward regeneration.
“We need a strong and efficient system to support these aims and for long-term economic growth. I believe these proposals will mean we are better placed to make high quality development happen sooner and in the right places.
“I firmly believe that Scotland’s planners can lead the delivery of great places, empower communities and provide a stable environment for investment through the uncertain times we live in. I would encourage everyone with an interest in planning – developers and businesses, professionals and local authorities, communities and members of the public – to tell us what they think of our proposals for change.”
The Scottish Property Federation (SPF) described the government’s proposals to increase fees and resources significantly for major planning applications in Scotland as a major turning point for local authority planning services around the country.
Welcoming the news that the new fees are to remain competitive with like for like charges south of the border, the SPF said it would have liked to have seen greater certainty that additional resources released by the planning fees would be used for the purposes of improving the planning service in each local authority.
Paul Curran, chairman of the SPF, said: “It is important that we maintain our competiveness. To grow the economy, we must kick-start more development across the commercial and residential sectors.
“These significantly increased planning fees must lead to a significant improvement in the speed and manner that major applications are dealt with. The additional resources must be utilised to provide appropriate resources to deliver these critical improvements in the planning service.”
He added: “Modern major development is a very complex business involving a plethora of regulatory requirements, complicated finance and risk. Currently the development markets in Scotland are seeing low levels of activity across the country as a whole although there are some hot-spots such as Edinburgh’s St Andrew’s Square.”
The consultation, “Places, people and planning” runs until Tuesday 4 April, and can be accessed here.
The Scottish Government’s 20 proposals for revamping the planning system