News In Focus
Ministers propose to link planning fees to resource needs
Plans to improve efficiency and streamline the planning system, including linking increases in fees to improved performance by planning authorities, have been announced by the Scottish Government in a new series of consultations.
In a statement to Parliament, Planning Minister Derek Mackay outlined a series of proposed measures as the next stage following the comprehensive reform of the Scottish planning system in 2006.
The proposed fee reforms will mean increasing fees for those projects which take the greatest resources and reducing them for those that take less. However under a new performance framework for planners developed by Heads of Planning Scotland and COSLA, fees would be linked to planning performance, so authorities who fail to improve performance would not be able to charge greater fee levels.
Proposals 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”.
Other proposals include extending permitted development rights to some areas of non-householder development.
Mr Mackay said that the new system had bedded down well, but more needed to be done to deliver the efficient plan-led system to which the Government aspired.
“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."
The minister also announced that work would start on the third National Planning Framework in the autumn, and launched a consulation on examinations of development plans.
Bob Reid, convener of the Royal Town Planning Institute Scotland, said that a high performing system could be achieved 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.”
The new consultations, which all have a closing date for responses of 22 June 2012, concern: