News In Focus
Planning Bill under threat from new costs due to amendments: minister
Scottish Government proposals to reform the planning system have been put at risk by the cost implications of amendments to the bill now going through Holyrood, according to Planning Minister Kevin Stewart.
Speaking as the financial memorandum for the bill was published, Mr Stewart said new duties written into the Planning (Scotland) Bill by MSPs in committee at stage 2 "threaten the very aims of the legislation".
The memorandum shows that costs to planning authorities could rise by up to £75m, and for business by more than £400m. More than 230 amendments have been approved, adding to the duties and responsibilities of planning authorities and Scottish ministers, and the Journal's planning commentator Alastair McKie wrote: "Early supporters of the bill must be concerned that the central improvements of the system intended by the bill appear to have been lost."
Mr Stewart said the Scottish Government is currently considering how best to remove unnecessary burdens at stage 3 of the bill's passage. He commented: "Our aim in bringing forward this bill was to streamline planning and create savings that could be redirected towards working with communities and developers to achieve real and positive change for our places.
"Throughout the stage 2 process I made it clear that it wasn’t simply amendments being added to the bill, it was added costs, added bureaucracy. The financial memorandum paints a stark picture.
"As things currently stand, we risk losing the savings that could have been achieved through streamlining, and creating millions of pounds of new costs for planning authorities. It is difficult to see who benefits from that. As the Royal Town Planning Institute has said, the burden of new duties could see the system grind to a halt."
The minister added: "Many MSPs have indicated their willingness to work constructively to rescue this bill, and I am grateful to those who have already engaged with me. Returning this bill to a shape that allows it to support inclusive growth will require co-operation."