THE SCOTTISH GOVERNMENT have revealed proposals that they hope will speed up the frustrations of planning applications taken months and even years to clear through local authorities.
Ten ‘immediate action’ areas have been identified as a result of an independent planning review panel – with planning minister Kevin Stewart announcing that these will now be developed alongside further reforms in the planning system throughout Scotland.
Top of the list of reforms will be proposals to extend ‘permitted development rights’, giving permission to sites where planning permission is not required to more types of development. That would, according to the minister, remove ‘uncontroversial’ developments from the system.
Enhanced fees may be introduced to ensure planning authorities are better resourced to deliver more homes, alongside proposals to improve planning performance, ensuring system users receive a better service.
A look will also be taken at how digital transformation of the planning service might be advanced, using tools including the web and 3-D visualisations to create information about how places will evolve over time.
The Scottish Government will work with local authorities, developers and community groups to develop more detailed proposals for reform, which will be fully consulted on later this year. That will pave the way for a new Planning Bill to be brought forward to the Scottish Parliament in 2017.
The programme of work will deliver more community engagement to ensure that more people can get actively involved in shaping the future of the places where they live and new and better tools to assist housing delivery.
Announcing the reforms Mr Stewart said: “Planning affects everyone’s lives, from ensuring that we have enough of the right types of homes in the right locations, to driving forward regeneration and supporting business development which provides jobs.
“It is clear from the recommendations of the independent panel, and the feedback from local authorities, developers and communities, that our planning system can do more for Scotland.
“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 welcome the positive report produced by the panel and am impressed that public and private interests in planning are willing to work together and with government to make changes happen.
“We must now work together to ensure our planning system is best placed to support economic growth and house-building, whilst protecting and enhancing the quality of life of all our communities.
“We will now develop proposals for further reform of the planning system over the coming months and will bring forward consultation proposals by the end of the year.
The review’s proposed outcomes – including strong and flexible development plans, more high quality homes and collaboration rather than conflict – are all aims we share.”