Scottish planning system consultation has been launched by ministers


A new consultation into the Scottish planning system has been launched by ministers hoping to revamp and modernise the current process

The Scottish planning system is undergoing a consultation as part of the process to “simplify, streamline, and clarify” it.

It is thought certain types of development could become exempt from planning permission under government proposals, allowing development to proceed without barriers. This could include infrastructure relating to digital telecommunications, renewable heat installations, cycle networks, polytunnels, allotments, and changes to the use of town centre buildings.

The Scottish government intends to put forward a new Bill that will both revamp and modernise the planning system. This is expected later this year.


Among the proposals the government wants to implement is an increase to planning fees and the introduction of charges for decision appeals. Furthermore, ministers want to amend how review decisions are taken. Instead, ministers want these decisions to be carried out by councils, rather than central government.

Other proposals are aimed at unlocking more land for housing, promoting self-build homes, and increasing community input into local planning.

The consultation will run until the 4 April and findings will be added to recommendations put forward by a panel of experts in an independent review published last year.

Planning Minister Kevin Stewart said: “I believe these proposals will mean we are better-placed to make high-quality development happen sooner and in the right places.

“I firmly believe that Scotland’s planners can lead the delivery of great places, empower communities and provide a stable environment for investment through the uncertain times we live in.

“I would encourage everyone with an interest in planning – developers and businesses, professionals and local authorities, communities and members of the public – to tell us what they think of our proposals for change.”

Amends to the system

Stefano Smith, convener of the Royal Town Planning Institute Scotland (RTPI Scotland), said: “RTPI Scotland agrees that removing the need to obtain permission for certain types of small development and careful exploration of zoning for high quality and sustainable housing development could free up resources.

“This would give planners more time to invest in delivering the high-quality sustainable places that Scotland needs.”

Alastair Wood, Savills Head of Planning in Scotland said the Scottish planning system needs to remain flexible in order to deliver sustainable development and meet ambitious housing targets

“The working group has produced thorough and far-reaching proposals,” he said.

“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 in 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.”


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