Streamlining the planning system
Planning Minister Derek Mackay has today outlined plans to improve efficiency and streamline the planning system, including linking increases in fees to improved performance by planning authorities.
In a statement to Parliament, he launched a series of consultations and measures to take planning forward following the comprehensive reform of the Scottish Planning System in 2006.
Mr Mackay announced a new performance framework for planners developed by Heads of Planning Scotland and COSLA, and his intention to link planning performance to fees, so authorities who fail to improve performance would not be able to charge greater fee levels. Developers will pay a single, proportionate fee to cover all aspects of the planning application.
The proposals are part of a range of measures to help planning boost economic growth, removing unnecessary obstacles to delivering projects, including reviewing planning agreements and obligations and a consulation on innovative approaches to delivering development.
Other proposals include extending permitted development rights to some areas of non-householder development.
Proposals to reform the fee system will also address Audit Scotland’s concerns, raised in their report “Modernising the Planning System” that the funding model for the planning system is “becoming unsustainable as the gap between fees and expenditure increases”.
Planning Minister Derek Mackay said:
“The 2006 Planning Act contained the most significant changes to the planning system in 60 years. It has bedded down well but more needs to be done to deliver the efficient plan-led system we aspire to.
“What I am publishing today is a comprehensive package of measures to drive improved performance, simplify and streamline the planning process, deliver development and promote a plan led system.
“I do not want to dispense with essential procedures or appraisals, but ensure that those in place are an aid, not a barrier to better informed discussions, with individuals, developers and communities.
“Planning has an important role to play in delivering sustainable economic growth. Developers and communities have told me that they are not solely concerned about the speed of planning decisions, but also with the certainty of timescales and the predictability of outcomes.
“The performance framework we have put in place with Heads of Planning Scotland and COSLA reflects this.
“I understand that an excellent planning system needs to be properly resourced. Last year’s Audit Scotland report made clear that the gap between the amount planning authorities earn and the amount it costs to process applications was unsustainable.
“Today I am launching a consultation on reforming planning fees so they are proportionate and effective. That will mean increasing fees for those projects which take the greatest resources and reducing them for those that take less.
“But I will not allow fees to rise without a similar rise in performance. I intend to consult on a proposition that if an authority fails to deliver an improved performance, steps can be taken to have the fees paid in that authority revert back to their current, lower level.”
Bob Reid, Royal Town Planning Institute Scotland Convenor, said:
“We welcome the Minister’s continued support for a high performing planning system and the publication of the new Planning Performance Framework. We want planning to build on the pillars of excellence, effectiveness and efficiency so that it can deliver ambitions for Scotland such as sustainable economic growth, great places for people and a low carbon economy.
“This can be done without the need for major legislation. Rather, it relies on a commitment to continuous improvement by all involved including local authorities, developers, Scottish Government and key agencies. It also requires these interests to develop new approaches collaboratively. We are committed to making this happen so look forward to supporting these discussions over the coming months.”
Alistair MacDonald, chair of Heads of Planning Scotland, said:
“HoPS welcomes the Minister’s commitment to the planning system in Scotland. We will work constructively with his team to explore options to further refine current legislation helping to improve our customers’ experience.
“Our joint work over the last few years has resulted in a positive dialogue with Government resulting in the current improvements to the system. This is undoubtedly important in assisting the economic recovery of the country.”
David Melhuish, Director, Scottish Property Federation said:
“The Scottish Property Federation has raised a number of concerns with Ministers in relation to the planning system and we welcome the public consultations announced in a number of areas of reform designed to take forward planning modernisation.
“The Scottish Property Federation has argued that any increase in planning fees must be accompanied by a tangible improvement in the planning service. While it will be important to have as competitive a fee structure as possible, we welcome today’s strong emphasis on linking any increase in planning fees to a significant improvement in the performance of the planning service.
“In addition our members have consistently raised concerns with Ministers that we need to see progress on limiting or making more proportionate the cost of up-front reports, multiple consents and appraisals which can be a severe cost to applicants. We welcome the inclusion of these key issues for the property industry in today’s consultative package and we look forward to continuing to engage with the Scottish Government on the detail of the proposals.”
Petra Biberbach, Chief Executive of Planning Aid Scotland, said:
“The Scottish planning system has come a long way since the Planning etc. (Scotland) Act 2006. The raft of reforms that followed, coupled with the support of successive government administrations, has seen the Scottish planning system take important steps forward in efficiency, transparency and inclusivity. However as with any process of reform, improvement is a continuous rather than a singular action. It is the drive towards culture change and greater inclusivity that will deliver the most important improvements to the planning system. The Scottish Government’s goal of a more inclusive, streamlined and efficient planning system is to be welcomed.”
Mr Mackay also announced that work would start on the 3rd National Planning Framework in the autumn, and launched a consulation on examinations of Development Plans.
Mr Mackay launched the following consultations:
- Fees for Planning Applications
- Development Plan Examinations
- Development Delivery
- Amendments to non-domestic elements of permitted development
- Miscellaneous Amendments to the Modernised Planning System
The following documents have also been published:
- Planning Reform – Next Steps
- National Planning Framework for Scotland 2 – Monitoring Report
Read the consultation documents and publications.