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Game Plan - Scottish Government Publish Planning Review Report

Game Plan - Scottish Government Publish Planning Review Report

In September 2015 Alex Neil, the then Minister responsible for planning, announced the appointment of an independent panel to undertake a “game changing” root and branch review of the planning system.  The intention of the review was to ensure that planning plays a more positive and effective role in creating high quality places by streamlining and improving the system whilst involving local communities in decision making.

After receiving over 400 written submissions and evidence from over 100 individuals, the Panel’s report has now been published by the Scottish Government.  A copy of the report can be accessed here

The Panel has made 48 recommendations, some of which call for specific changes to the existing system, whilst others are more far reaching.   As with the questions posed by the Panel, the recommendations cover a wide range of topics, from a comprehensive review of development planning to a statutory duty to engage with young people.

Some of the most eye-catching recommendations include:

• Abolition of Strategic Development Plans, with regional housing targets set by NPF.
• NPF to be better integrated with SPP, and both documents given the same status as development plans.
• Greater front loading and simplification of development plan preparation, with the main issues report and examinations abolished and replaced with “gatecheck” or mediation at an early stage.
• Local Development Plans to move to a 10 year, rather than 5 year cycle, with the ability for periodic reviews.
• Local communities to be given powers to produce Local Place Plans, similar to Neighbourhood Plans in England, which would form part of the statutory development plan.
• Sites allocated in the development plan to be given deemed planning permission in principle, with non-allocated sites subject to a higher degree of scrutiny.
• Greater use of Simplified Planning Zones.
• Creation of a national infrastructure agency and development delivery infrastructure fund.
• Introduction of a Scottish version of the Community Infrastructure Levy  and streamlining of the use of Section 75 Agreements. 
• Substantial increases in fees for major applications, and mandatory use of processing agreements for major applications.

Much looks to have been drawn from the reforms made to the planning system south of the border, while the development industry will be relieved that the Panel found there was not a case for third party rights of appeal. 

The Panel have had to balance a diverse range of views, and Scottish Government have confirmed it will respond "in due course". It will be interesting to see how the new ministerial team overseeing the Scottish planning system respond, as well as the reaction from others involved in the planning system to the Panel's recommendations.

Burness Paull will be hosting breakfast seminars, in Aberdeen on Tuesday 7 June and Edinburgh on Wednesday 8 June 2016 to discuss the Panel’s Report.  Please visit our seminars page here or email Rachel Osborne, Events Executive on E: rachel.osborne@burnesspaull.com

Craig Whelton, Partner
Margaret Bochel, Director

Burness admin