Planning & Environment

The Scottish Government is gearing up for progress with the Bill, publishing:

Quick Guide

Our quick guide provides an outline of the Bill in its current form, highlighting the many new provisions added during Stage 2.

What’s next?

The future shape of the Bill is uncertain. Scottish Government Ministers have described it as not fit for purpose, and are working on fresh changes to “rescue” the bill and “remove unnecessary burdens” before MSPs vote on it for the final time.

Key areas of concern:

Delivery of development – the Revised Financial Memorandum reminds us that the aim of the planning reforms:

“is to create a more effective planning system with a sharper focus on delivering development and high quality places”

The original Bill sought to reduce the amount of plan-making, to enable more focus on delivering development. That has been reversed by the amendments, which create more process and bureaucracy.

Resourcing the planning system – the Revised Financial Memorandum estimates that the amendments could increase costs to planning authorities by up to £75m, and cost businesses more than £400m.

Research by the RTPI indicates that over a quarter of planning department staff have been cut since 2009, and that planning application fees do not cover the costs of processing planning applications.

Performance – one commentator noted that, while planning application fees have increased, there has been a substantial fall in numbers of planning applications, so has productivity fallen? Continuing to increase application fees will not address underlying performance issues.

Involving local communities –although amendments introducing an equal right of appeal were rejected during Stage 2, questions are still being asked whether objections from local communities are being given enough weight?

Neil Collar

Partner at Brodies LLP
Neil is a partner at Brodies LLP and consistently rated as one of Scotland’s leading planning lawyers. He is well known for both his planning inquiry advocacy and his advisory work. Neil has a particular interest in renewable energy developments.
Neil Collar