14th March 2017 back to news

Planning Reform Consultation

The Scottish Government has recently published a consultation on the future of the Scottish planning system. Their Scottish Government's aim is to create a planning system that is 'central to the delivery of great places and a force for positive change'.

The deadline for the submission of responses to this consultation is the 4th April 2017.

This consultation focuses around the following four key areas of change: 

           ·         Making plans for the future

           ·         People make the system work

           ·         Building more homes and delivering infrastructure

           ·         Stronger leadership and smarter resourcing

The Scottish Government has identified a total of 20 proposals for improving the planning system. A summary of the key proposals likely to impact on the development industry are outlined below.

A full copy of the consultation and all proposals can be found via the following link: http://www.gov.scot/Resource/00512753.pdf

Making Plans for the Future

  • Aligning community planning and spatial planning - the Scottish Government is seeking to introduce a requirement for Development Plans to take account of wider community planning
  • Regional partnership working - it is proposed that Strategic Development Plans will be removed
  • Improving national spatial planning and policy - it is suggested that the National Planning Framework can be developed to better reflect regional priorities. National Planning Policies can be used to make Local Development Planning simpler and more consistent
  • Stronger Local Development Plans - it is proposed that the plan period will be extended from 5 to 10 years. It is also proposed that the Main Issues Report consultation stage will be removed as will Supplementary Guidance. A new 'gatecheck' by Reporters at draft plan stage will be introduced to help improve the Examination process
  • Making plans that deliver - the Scottish Government gave consideration to that sites allocated in Local Development Plans automatically being given planning permission in principle. Instead, the are proposing to introduce more Simplified Planning Zones

People Make the System Work

  • Giving people an opportunity to plan their own place - communities to be given a new right to come together and prepare Local Place Plans. These plans will form part of the statutory Development Plan
  • Improving public trust - it is proposed that communities are involved at the pre-application stage for site not allocated in the Local Development Plan. The Scottish Government is considering the requirement for developers to hold more than one public even for major and national scale applications. They are also considering if the 12 week statutory consultation period is sufficient. The Scottish Government is discouraging the submission of repeat applications though the removal of the applicant's right to submit a revised or repeat application at no cost if an application is refused, withdrawn or an appeal is dismissed. The Scottish Government is also proposing to improve planning enforcement by substantially increasing fees in cases requiring retrospective planning consent. They are also seeking to substantially increase the financial penalties for breaches of planning control.
  • Keeping decisions local: rights of appeal - the Scottish Government is not proposing to introduce third party rights of appeal. They have suggested that more appeal decisions should be taken at a local level

Building More Homes and Delivering Infrastructure

  • Being clear about how much housing land is required - the Scottish Government consider that there is currently too great a focus on debating precise numbers rather than delivering development and that a more strategic view should be taken
  • Closing the gap between planning consent and delivery of homes - it is proposed that all major development schemes promoted through the Local Development Plan process are accompanied by appropriate information on development viability. It is also proposed that is sites do not progress in accordance with the delivery programme, Local Authorities can use their land assembly powers to enable other development, remove allocations or bring forwards alternative sites. The aim is for Local Authorities to take a more active delivery role for housing developments
  • Releasing more 'development ready' land - greater use of Simplified Planning Zones is proposed. Within these areas, development can go ahead without the need for an application for planning consent as long as it is in line with a clear and agreed scheme which sets out development parameters, design guidelines, etc.
  • A more transparent approach to funding infrastructure - the Scottish Government proposes that the Planning Bill will include powers to introduce a new infrastructure levy for Scotland. They will also consider changes to clarify the scope of current provision in Section 75 Agreements. They propose to restrict the ability to modify and discharge the terms of Planning Obligations

Stronger Leadership and Smarter Resourcing

  • Investing in a better service - the Scottish Government propose to increase planning fees to ensure the planning service is better resourced. It is proposed that the maximum fee for detailed applications will increase from £20,055 to £125,000. The Scottish Government is also proposing to introduce higher fees for retrospective application and application relating to sites not supported by the adopted Local Development Plan. It is also proposed that fees will be charged for planning appeals and reviews of decision and that Local Authorities will have discretionary powers to charge for pre-application advice. Agencies who have a critical role to play in the development management process can charge for services. It is proposed that applicants would benefit from enhanced service standards or fast tracked application where a higher fee is paid and an application is accompanied by a processing agreement
  • Making a better use of resources - the Scottish Government is considering the scope to extend permitted development rights and remove the need to apply for planning permission for more development types. They are also considering making changed to the Use Classes Order

The consultation paper lacks detail on the implementation of the proposals in practice. It is anticipated that the Planning Bill will be published later this year.

If you would like any further information on the proposed changes to the Scottish planning system and implications for your property or landholding, please do not hesitate to contact a member of Planning Development Team on 0141 332 1194. 

Kerri McGuire
Planning and Development Team
T: 0141 567 5371
E: kerri.mcguire@g-s.co.uk