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Planning system in line for overhaul under new Government paper

10 January 2017

Major reforms to the Scottish planning system have been proposed today in a new Scottish Government paper, published for consultation.

The 20 proposals include zoning more land for housing, promoting self-build and removing the need to apply for planning permission for more types of development. Aiming to support economic growth, housebuilding and increased community involvement in planning decisions, they follow the recommendations of an independent review carried out by an expert panel last year.

A planning bill will come before the Scottish Parliament later this year.

Ministers intend that the National Planning Framework will be developed to reflect regional priorities better, and policies used to make local development planning simpler and more consistent. Strategic plans should be replaced with "more strategic regional partnership working", but local development plans should be strengthened by extending them to 10 years and ensuring that significant issues are examined at an earlier stage in their formation. They will also have to take account of wider community planning, and measures will be taken "to help ensure that planned development happens on the ground".

Communities should be given a new right "to come together and prepare local place plans", which should then form part of the statutory local development plan. There should be better pre-application consultation, and greater community involvement where proposals are not supported in the development plan. Repeat applications will be discouraged, and planning enforcement improved. In addition, more review decisions should be made by local authorities rather than centrally.

For housebuilding, planning should take "a more strategic view" of the land required for development, and authorities should take more active steps to help deliver development. Infrastructure development should be better coordinated at national and regional level, and powers introduced for a new local levy to raise additional finance for infrastructure.

Measures will also be introduced to achieve better and more efficient performance by planning authorities.

Lanuching the consultation, Planning Minister Kevin Stewart commented: “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 through the uncertain times we live in. 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.”

Click here to access the consultation. The deadline for responses is 4 April 2017.

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