The Scottish Parliament’s Local Government and Communities Committee has published its report on the Planning (Scotland) Bill today.

The Planning (Scotland) Bill was published by the Scottish Government in December 2017 and set out proposals for fairly significant changes to the planning system. In the months following the publication of the Bill, the Committee gathered evidence from the public, planning authorities and developers on the proposals.

The report sets out the Committee’s recommendations to the Scottish Parliament on the Bill.  While the Committee recommends that Parliament agrees the general principles of the Bill, it also proposes a number of amendments.  Key points in the report include:

  • The Bill should include a purpose for planning, setting out a clear vision of what planning is to achieve in order to provide greater certainty to communities and developers, and support more meaningful engagement on planning;
  • The process of Parliamentary scrutiny of the new National Planning Framework should be significantly enhanced to include time for substantive engagement with the public;
  • Strategic development plans should not be abolished unless a more robust mechanism for regional spatial planning is provided;
  • There is firm support for the proposals for Local Place Plans, however, it is recognised that disadvantaged communities will be much less likely to develop their own plans because of lack of capacity, time and resources, which could widen inequality;
  • While not explicitly supporting third party rights of appeal, the Committee recommends that,  in a plan-led system, planning appeals by developers should only be allowed in certain circumstances;
  • The ability of applicants to submit repeat applications which have previously been refused or to proceed with multiple appeals for the same site should be limited;
  • The ‘agent of change’ principle, which is intended to protect pre-existing music venues from noise complaints from occupiers of new development, should be given statutory status rather than left to planning policy;
  • Money raised by local authorities through the infrastructure levy should be spent locally rather than collected centrally by the Scottish Government and redistributed to local authorities.

The Scottish Government has said it is reviewing the Committee’s Report and will respond in due course.  The Bill is expected to receive Royal Assent in the current Parliamentary year.  The Committee’s report can be accessed here.