The full extent of the impact of COVID-19 on the development industry in Scotland may not be known for some time. This is particularly true of the planning sector, where the timescales involved in the plan-making process, and between making decisions and seeing development implemented can be lengthy.
Therefore, the Scottish Government has proposed measures they hope will mitigate this future disruption to the planning process – specifically the delivery of housing sites. These measures consist of interim amendments to the Scottish Planning Policy (SPP) to reinforce the plan-led approach to development in Scotland in addition to providing clarity on the Housing Land Supply.
The following alterations to the Scottish Planning Policy have been proposed:
- Remove the presumption in favour of Sustainable Development, replacing it instead with a statement in support of development that is environmentally, economically, and socially sustainable
- Amend the definition of the “5-year effective housing land supply” so that sites can be considered in terms of their merits under normal conditions, and thus found to be effective, when the current abnormal market conditions may exclude them from being considered as such
- Temporarily change the way in which the 5-year effective housing land supply is calculated during a plan period due to the potential for plans to over-run their intended lifespan and the delays in housing completions; the initial housing supply target in a Plan should be divided by the remaining years of the plan period and then multiplied by 5, and subsequently compared to the 5-year effective housing land supply in order to establish whether or not there is a shortfall in housing numbers
- A housing shortfall can now be a material consideration in the assessment of planning applications, with the Planning Officer making the judgement on how much weight to afford it
These interim policy provisions are currently subject to an open consultation during which the Scottish Government is seeking the input of those in the development industry and inviting comments and answers to five key questions about the proposals:
- What is your view on our proposal to remove ‘the presumption’ from the SPP, through the changes set out?
- What is your view on the proposed changes set out and our aim of clarifying the definition of the 5-year effective housing land supply to reflect the currently exceptional market circumstances?
- What is your view on the proposed changes to paragraph 125, including (a) the proposed calculation to establish the scale of the 5-year effective land supply in relation to alternatives and (b) the proposed approach to assessing proposals where a shortfall emerges?
- Do you agree that the proposed amendments will not directly impact on other (non-housing) types of development? If not, please provide evidence to support your view.
- Do you agree that fuller impact assessments are not required? If not, please provide evidence to support your view.
The Scottish Government’s consultation is ongoing until the 9th October 2020. If you wish to discuss making a submission to this consultation and having your views heard by the Scottish Government, please contact email@example.com to discuss this in more detail.