Scottish Government Response to Review of Planning

Jul 28, 2016


In May of this year, the independent panel set up to undertake a “game-changing review” of Scotland’s planning system published its “Empowering Planning to Deliver Great Places” report.

Put together in September 2015, the three person panel chaired by Crawford Beveridge alongside Petra Biberbach of Planning Aid Scotland (PAS) and John Hamilton of the Scottish Property Federation were set the objective of drawing together ideas to enable a quicker, more accessible and efficient planning process. The review panel provided 48 ‘recommendations’ which they felt would allow the Scottish Planning System to do just this. In summary, the key recommendations identified in the report were:

Giving more focus to the National Planning Framework (NPF), including regional housing targets;

Simplifying the development plan review process;

Empowering communities;

Encouraging Simplified Planning Zones (SPZ) within town and regeneration areas;

Establishing a national infrastructure agency;

Streamlining complex planning controls.

The Scottish Government considered the recommendations put forward by the panel, with Planning Minister Kevin Stewart stating at the time that “We are committed to ensuring we have a planning system that works for everyone… This independent report will help form the basis to kick-start a new, focussed and revitalised planning system. We will consider its recommendations in further detail and will respond in due course.”

July saw the Ministers publish their initial response, setting out a mixture of immediate actions and long-term areas for review. Ministers are however committed to an “ambitious but practical programme of planning reform”. Kevin Stewart stated that Ministers “welcome the positive report produced by the panel… [are] impressed that public and private interests in planning are willing to work together and with government to make changes happen. We must now work together to ensure our planning system is best placed to support economic growth and house-building”. Ministers intend to consider the recommendations of the review panel in more detail over the summer and autumn and are intending to publish detailed proposals for change in a White Paper due in autumn or winter of this year.

From our perspective however, there remains a question as to whether or not the system needs reform, but the political momentum is building so we will ensure that we are well positioned to influence any changes, engaging with the process as it continues and ensuring that we are well placed to respond to and work within the opportunities that this process provides.  

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