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Debate On Planning Bill

Debate On Planning Bill

Yesterday, I attended the Scottish Parliament’s Stage 1 debate on the Planning (Scotland) Bill.  This follows completion of the first Committee stage (see our latest blog here). 

During the debate a few themes became apparent.  There is still widespread concern among MSPs about the existing appeal system, which is seen as being too favourable to developers.  The planning minister, Kevin Stewart, confirmed the Scottish Government’s position that third party (or equal) rights of appeal should not be introduced as this would only add to conflict and mistrust in the planning system.  The Government’s preferred solution is to require much stronger community engagement by developers at the outset of the application process.

There is considerable support among MSPs for Local Place Plans although the valid question was raised as to what would happen if different community bodies brought forward competing local place plans for an area.  Concerns were also raised about some aspects of the proposals for Simplified Development Zones.  Kevin Stewart confirmed that, among a number of amendments the Scottish Government intends to make to the Bill, SDZs are to be rebranded as Masterplan Consent Areas.    

Proposals for an infrastructure levy have been the focus of much debate.  On the infrastructure levy, MSPs were in agreement that monies raised locally should be spent locally.  Kevin Stewart confirmed that the proposals in the Bill which would have allowed the Scottish Government to require local authorities to transfer levy income to the government would be removed from the Bill. 

When it came to the vote, the parliament approved the general principles of the Bill although the opposition parties all pledged to introduce amendments to the Bill at the next stage in the parliamentary process. 

By Emma Dewar
Senior Associate, Planning

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