Increasing pace on planning reform
Finance Secretary John Swinney today stressed the importance of work to deliver an increasingly efficient and effective planning system.
He was speaking ahead of today's Scottish Awards for Quality in Planning, which celebrate best practice in planning and high quality design in Scotland.
The ceremony comes as planning performance statistics for 2008-09 show a rise - 1.2 per cent - in the number of applications decided in under three months. But the number of planning applications received fell by 15 per cent when compared to 2007-08.
Mr Swinney said:
"Scotland's planning system plays an important role in delivering strong and sustainable economic growth. Today's awards recognise the very positive contributions made by individuals and organisations to enabling high quality development and planning.
"For our part, the Scottish Government has been working with planning authorities and our agencies to accelerate the pace of reform in Scotland's planning system. The actions we have taken over 2007-09 - the period covered by today's statistics - are contributing to a modern, fit for purpose planning system.
"Easier to understand planning policy and the introduction of ePlanning, for example, provide us with a solid foundation on which to build. It is now incumbent on all parts of the public sector to speed up the pace of improvement.
"The fall in the number of planning applications submitted has coincided with global economic difficulties, from which Scotland has not been immune.
"Today's statistics show we must continue to build on our work to deliver a more efficient and effective planning system - one which delivers increased certainty and speed of decision making for developers and communities and continuous improvements in performance.
"The Scottish Government's economic recovery plan ensures all activity on planning and regulation supports economic development, and - through greater alignment and work with planning authorities and our agencies - we are working to ensure planning is an aid, not a barrier, to growth in our economy."
The Scottish Awards for Quality in Planning (SAQP) is an annual event which aims to raise the profile of planning and encourage good practice. They look to promote quality developments that have been achieved through effective planning processes. Today's ceremony will be held at The Hub in Edinburgh.
In order to ensure planning authorities are resourced to contribute to economic recovery and offer an improved service - the Scottish Government recently agreed that fees should increase by 10 per cent - the first rise in Scotland since 2007. Planning fees in England were increased in 2008 and remain substantially higher than in Scotland.