Planning Bill Update

Apr 8, 2019


As reported previously, Scotland is preparing a new Planning Bill. Following the conclusion of Stage 2 and the significant number of amendments, a revised Financial Memorandum has been published. This attempts to set out the potential costs over the next 10 years for communities, local authorities and developers.

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Since the Revised Financial Memorandum was published, it has been widely reported that the Bill is likely to significantly increase costs associated with planning. 

For planning authorities, the costs could range from almost £19 million to over £74 million. When the Bill was first introduced, the Scottish Government anticipated savings of £22.5 million to £33 million, however the potential cost increases are a total contrast.

The additional cost to the development industry ranges from just over £350 million to just over £1,176 million.  Whilst for communities, the Memorandum anticipates additional costs of just under £12 million.

Kevin Stewart, Minister for Local Government, Housing and Planning has stressed that “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” and, “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.”

It is clear that political positions of those involved has taken the Bill away from what was envisaged when the review first started. The Minister and officials are working with MSPs and stakeholders to reach an agreement on further amendments. The overall aim is to have a Bill which supports the ability of the planning system to create quality places with the housing, infrastructure and investment that is needed.

Recent comments by both Mr McNairney and Mr Stewart MSP suggests there is a realisation that at a time when local authorities are under significant pressure to limit costs and with developers dealing with political uncertainties, increased costs of this level could have major implications for Scotland.

There is no update as to what the next steps of the Bill will be, however given all of these issues there are questions that need answering: Should the Bill be revoked all together? Should we go back to stage 2 and try to return the Bill to its original purpose?

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