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Consultation out on Scottish planning changes to speed up development

Plans for major changes to the Scottish planning system have been published with the aim of zoning more land for new homes and promoting self builds.

Like the rest of the UK, planning is regarded in Scotland as being not as efficient and speedy as it should be and the Scottish Government has set out 20 proposals for revamping the system.

It wants to increase the delivery of houses and increase community involvement in planning decisions and build on recommendations of an independent review carried out last year. A new planning bill can be expected later this year.

Key changes include zoning more land for housing, promoting self-build and removing the need to apply for planning permission for more types of development. The consultation also seeks views on new rights for communities to produce their own plans for their local area.

Planning Minister Kevin Stewart: “Planning affects everyone’s lives, from making sure we have the right types of homes to driving forward regeneration. We need a strong and efficient system to support these aims and for long term economic growth. I believe these proposals will mean we are better placed to make high quality development happen sooner and in the right places.

“I firmly believe that Scotland’s planners can lead the delivery of great places, empower communities and provide a stable environment for investment. I would encourage everyone with an interest in planning, developers and businesses, professionals and local authorities, communities and members of the public, to tell us what they think of our proposals for change.”

The planning system will need to remain nimble in order to deliver sustainable development and meet ambitious housing targets, according to Alastair Wood, head of planning in Scotland for real estate firm Savills.

He has already identified some issues such as extending the period of adoption for local development plans from five to 10 years which he says may prove to be overly restrictive.

He said: “The proposals could see appeals on major allocated sites determined by a local review body, without developers being able to appeal to Scottish Ministers. For such significant developments it remains essential that the right of appeal to an independent body is retained.”

The proposals also suggest an increase in fees in certain circumstances, for example, removing an applicant’s right to submit a revised or repeat application at no cost if an application is refused, withdrawn, or an appeal is dismissed. It also suggests substantially increasing fees in cases requiring retrospective planning consent.

Under the changes major developments which accord with the development plan, decisions granting permission could be determined under delegated powers and reviewed by the local review body rather than appealed to Scottish Ministers.

And it also suggests that the National Planning Framework (NPF) should be clear on national and regional aspirations for housing delivery, with an estimated range of homes required over a 10 year period.

The consultation period runs until Tuesday 4 April 2017.

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