Savills Scotland Planning head welcomes further consultation on planning reform, but says planning must remain nimble in order to support future development

11 January 2017

On 10th January 2017, The Scottish Government published the much anticipated ‘Places, People and Planning’ consultation paper which sets out 20 proposals for change that aim to strengthen the planning system and support sustainable economic growth across the country.

Alastair Wood, Savills Head of Planning in Scotland welcomes the further consultation on planning reform, but says the Scottish planning system needs to remain nimble in order to deliver sustainable development and meet ambitious housing targets.  He said:  “The Scottish Government has produced thorough and far-reaching proposals.   However, extending the period of adoption for local development plans from five to ten years may prove to be overly restrictive.  Some degree of flexibility must be retained within the planning system to ensure it is nimble enough to adapt to changes to the economic and political context. “Further, today’s 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.

“Finally, there is the potential for a planning levy to provide new infrastructure to support development.   The experience of trying to apply such a levy south of the border shows how difficult this is in practice and there are certainly lessons to be learned.”

To read the consultation in full click here

In summary, some of the most notable proposals include:

• Extending the local development plan (LDP) period from 5 years to 10 years, removing ‘main issues reports’ and supplementary guidance. LDPs should be independently ‘gatechecked’ by an independent reporter at an early stage before the draft plan is prepared as well as retaining a final examination of the plan prior to adoption.

• Removing Strategic Development Plans, with the National Planning Framework (NPF) now setting out regional planning priorities

• Increased use of Simplified Planning Zones (SPZs), instead of the previously considered planning permission in principle for allocated sites

• Allow communities to prepare local plans, which can be adopted as part of the statutory local development plan if criteria are met

• Removing the applicant’s right to submit a revised or repeat application at no cost if an application is refused, withdrawn, or an appeal is dismissed. Substantially increasing fees in cases requiring retrospective planning consent

• For 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

• 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

• All major applications for housing are accompanied by appropriate information on development viability, to ensure delivery

• Investigate proposals which give local authorities more confidence and tools to acquire land which is not being used as allocated within the development plan

• Restrict the ability to modify and discharge terms of planning obligations introduced by the 2006 Planning Act so that commitments made when planning permission is granted are respected by those who entered into the obligation or who acquire the land • New infrastructure levy to be developed

• Consideration of charges for pre-application discussion and agencies, who have a critical role to play in the development management process, having the ability to charge for their services

• Extending permitted development rights and amending the Use Class Order  in respect to the farming sector and some change of uses within town centres

During 2017 the Scottish Government intend to:

•  Commission further research to inform proposals for local place plans, alignment of consents and monitoring of the outcomes from the planning system

• Pilot Simplified Planning Zones. We have identified a number of early projects to explore a zoned approach to housing through early SPZs. We will continue to encourage involvement in this programme over the coming months.

• Work with the Directorate for Planning and Environmental Appeals to explore proposals, including for an early gatecheck to support the development plan examination.

There will now be a consultation period which runs until Tuesday 4 April 2017, during which time Savills will be making a detailed response.

To read the Scottish Government press release click here.


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Alastair Wood

Alastair Wood



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Beth Hocking

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