Scottish planning system is lagging behind the rest of the UK

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According to a new report the planning system in Scotland is lagging behind the rest of the UK, making fewer decisions per resident

The Scottish planning system is making fewer decisions than the rest of the UK, it has emerged.

According to new data published by GL Hearn and the Scottish Property Federation, Edinburgh and Glasgow are making fewer major planning decisions per resident when compared to London and Northern Powerhouse local planning authorities.

The fifth annual planning survey included data on major planning application decisions from 74 local planning authorities and survey data from 385 developers and local authority planning officers across the country.

‘A blueprint for the future of planning’ report also revealed on average decision times in Scotland did not meet targets. Major planning decisions in Edinburgh are taking an average of 47 weeks, while Glasgow is taking 39 weeks. This is more than the target of four months and applied to 49 major planning decisions determined by the two cities in 2015-16.

Glasgow approves more planning applications than Edinburgh

Disparity between the two cities was also apparent, with Glasgow approving 100 per cent of major applications last year, but Edinburgh only passed 72 per cent—well below the UK-wide average of 87 per cent.

Combined both cities granted 44 major applications during the last financial year.

GL Hearn’s planning and development director Steve McGavin said: “Some of the causes of lengthy decisions are due to the complex nature of applications, especially in Edinburgh and Glasgow.

“However, there are also other factors at play. At a time of reducing public sector financing there is no doubt that planning authorities are becoming more stretched” notes.

“The industry must therefore look to itself for the answers to solve the challenges of modern-day planning and development.

“We must all take responsibility for driving progress and maximising the productivity of the resources at our disposal.

“Some measures which may speed up decision making include changing the requirements for major development decisions by Planning Committee to enable delegated decisions where applications aren’t called in by Members.

“An allocation of a site in a Local Development Plan for a particular land use could also give in-principle approval of that use.”

Efficiency must be part of the decision making system

David Melhuish, director of the Scottish Property Federation, said: “While speed is not everything we must be aware of the need for an efficient and effective decision making system if we are to attract and retain global capital to support local jobs and investment.

“To encourage this ‘can do’ culture, planning authorities must be resourced adequately and show strong leadership to aid investment.

“This survey takes stock of our planning system in Scotland and provides a hugely influential benchmark with which to understand how government and industry can work collaboratively to make development happen.”

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