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Scottish Planning System

Housing + Offices, Scotland, UK – Applications Reform

Scottish Planning

Planning etc. (Scotland) Act 2006

Major changes to making planning applications:-

Life of Planning Permission:
from 5 to 3 years.

Different Types of Planning Application:
Three types of application ‘Local’, ‘Major’ and ‘National’.

Planning Approval in Principle:
replaces Outline Planning Permission and will require considerably more detail.

‘Reserved Matters Applications’:
no longer exist.

Introduction of Statutory Pre-application Consultation:
3-month statutory consultation period prior to Application being lodged for ‘Major’ and ‘National’ applications, resulting in pre-application consultation report by planners.

Other more minor changes:
Pre-application Notice: formal notice starting 3-month consultation period.

Good Neighbour Agreement: legal contract applicant and neighbours.

Processing Agreement: fixes the time period in which an application will be determined.

Appeal Referrals: ‘Local’ applications cannot be appealed to the Scottish Ministers.

Appeal Timescale: reduced from 6 to 3 months.

Public Local Inquiry: no longer exist.

‘Development Control’: replaced by ‘Development Management’.

Neighbour Notification: now responsibility of planning authority to issue.

Neighbour Notification Distance: increased from 4m to 20m from the edge of site.

Fees: ‘no limit’ fee scale

Changing the Culture of Planning, Scotland

Andrew Mickel, Director of housebuilders Mactaggart & Mickel, has called on council planners to be paid more and given performance-related bonuses to help reform the planning system.

Mr Mickel was speaking at the ‘Changing the Culture of Planning” conference at the Royal Society of Edinburgh on 10 November 2007 to discuss the reform of the planning system in Scotland.

The event organised by Mactaggart & Mickel in partnership with the Royal Town Planning Institute and Turley Associates, took place ahead of this week’s Stage Three progress of the Planning etc (Scotland) Bill at the Scottish Parliament.

Mr Mickel said: “There are annual performance bonuses in the private sector and it even happens at the Department of the Environment, Food & Rural Affairs – why not in Scotland?

“There is an urgent need for more planners and technicians within councils to plug the skills shortage. Without more planners it doesn’t matter if procedures are streamlined in the new Bill, as there won’t be enough staff to take advantage of that.

“All parties involved in planning have to change. I accept developers must engage earlier in fuller consultation with communities, even if it involves a greater cost, but there must also be a willingness on the part of council planners to change.

“There has to be more coordination between departments within councils. Why do we even have 32 local authorities in Scotland? Councils need to be rationalised.

“We also have a situation in some council planning departments where staff have worked in the same place for years and I wonder if they have become resistant to change?

“There is a general feeling in the private sector that some planning officers are unresponsive and work to totally different timescales. But time is money and the private sector desires quick decisions to enable investment in an area.

“We must remember that slow or negative decision-making can affect jobs and the economy. The new Bill must ensure the planning process is quick if we are to maintain investment and growth in Scotland.

“The system as it stands is not an attractive proposition for people coming to invest in Scotland. We need a one-stop-shop service similar to that of the City of London which is a much slicker operation than that of small suburban Scottish councils. Without reform we could see investors heading south.

“We need to lift staff morale in local authorities and radically shift management techniques in favour of the users of the system.

“If this doesn’t happen the Bill will simply fail to deliver the reforms needed. We must remember that the detailed changes in legislation will come as part of the secondary legislation – maybe in a year or two – but we must not wait until then to change attitudes. That must start now.

“Academic institutions need to play their part too, providing faster courses with input from architects to stoke the design debate.

“It may require a leap of faith, but everyone must embrace change to improve the planning system in Scotland. The Planning etc. (Scotland) Bill is just the beginning, the catalyst we need to change the culture of planning.”

Scottish Planning Reform
Surely we need three main changes: better motivated planners, better educated planners and reform of the Scottish planning system away from ticking boxes to reject schemes to positive development of well-designed schemes.
Adrian Welch, Editor.

Scottish Planning Reform

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