Scottish Planning Reform

Dec 11, 2015


The Programme for Government 2015-2016 (September 2015) announced the forthcoming review of the Scottish planning system stating:

“We will review the operation of the planning system in Scotland, identifying the scope for further reform with a focus on delivering a quicker, more accessible and efficient planning process, in particular increasing delivery of high quality housing developments. Our aims are to:

  • Ensure that planning realises its full potential, unlocking land and sites, supporting more quality housing across all tenures and delivering the infrastructure required to support development.
  • Streamline, simplify and improve current systems and remove unnecessary blockages in the decision-making process.
  • Ensure that communities are more engaged in the process.
  • Continue to meet our statutory and international obligations in protecting and enhancing Scotland’s nature and environment.”

An independent panel of 3 has been appointed by the Government to undertake the reform; Crawford Beveridge (economist), Petra Biberback (Planning Aid) and John Hamilton (SPF/ Winchburgh Developments Ltd). The choice of panel members has raised criticism by the RTPI Convenor stating that “while the members of the panel bring a lot of expertise, I am astonished and very disappointed that there is not a planner on the panel with recent practical experience of the planning system. The success of the review will depend upon knowledge and expertise of how the planning system works from the inside as well as the outside.” The Chief Planner from the Government confirmed that the panel have been selected ‘on the basis of their skills and experiences, and are not acting in a representative capacity’. He believes having a chartered town planner on the panel is not essential, the planning review enables the government to take a step back from planning. Furthermore, the ‘review is not so much of a review, it is more of a refinement’. He made it clear that development plans and supplementary guidance have both become too complex.

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