The Scottish Government has published its Position Statement on proposed changes to the Scottish planning system.  This follows the consultation on the Scottish Government’s Places, People and Planning White Paper.

Some of the more controversial White Paper proposals, such as expanding the range of applications which can be determined by Local Review Bodies have been scaled back and others, such as charging for planning appeals, have been dropped.

Consistent with the advice of the independent review of the planning system and the Scottish Government’s response to it, there are no proposals for a third party right of appeal.  The Position Paper does follow through on the recommendation that communities should be able to produce place plans for their area, as well as increased obligations on developers to carry out pre-application consultation.

The Scottish Government’s consultation on the Position Statement and its Strategic Environmental Assessment runs until 11 August 2017.

Following the consultation period, the Scottish Government intends to introduce a Planning Bill early in the current parliamentary session.

The key proposals proposed for the Planning Bill are set out below.

Development Planning

  • The ability for communities to produce Local Place Plans for incorporation into the Local Development Plan.
  • Introduction of a statutory link between development planning and community planning.
  • Abolition of requirements for Strategic Development Plans with a discretionary power for regional partnerships to work on a strategic spatial planning.
  • Enhanced status for National Planning Framework and Scottish Planning Policy - the publication of NPF4 is to be delayed until 2020 and SPP will be reviewed in parallel.
  • Overhaul of the Local Development Plan process – the Main Issues Report stage will be replaced by early engagement and a ‘gate check’ followed by formal consultation on the draft Plan.  LDPs will have a 10 year timescale with the opportunity for updates between full review cycles.
  • Requirement for enhanced public engagement on planning applications for sites that are not allocated in the Local Development Plan and more proportionate pre-application consultation for allocated sites.

Application Procedures

  • Amended requirements for pre-application consultation for major and national developments.
  • Measures to strengthen enforcement against breaches of planning control.
  • Abolition of “free go” for revised or repeat applications where an application is refused, withdrawn or an appeal is refused.
  • LRBs to make decisions on more minor developments such as advertisement consents.
  • Proposals for Ministers to take more decisions instead of Reporters will not be taken forward.
  • No fees for appeals or reviews.
  • Mandatory training for Councillors serving on Planning Committees or Local Review Bodies.
  • No third party right of appeal.

Housing and Infrastructure Delivery

  • Proposals for nationally set housing land supply targets appear to have been rejected.
  • Developers to include information on viability of sites and development delivery as part of the development plan process.
  • Proposed changes to Compulsory Purchase Orders and a development land tax will not be included in the Planning Bill.
  • The Scottish Government will instead issue revised guidance for the operation of existing CPO powers in the short term.
  • “Refreshed and rebranded” Simplified Planning Zones to be introduced with power for Ministers to direct that a Zone will be established where it is the national interest.
  • No new agency to improve links between planning and infrastructure.  The Scottish Futures Trust will take forward support for significant stalled sites.
  • Options for an infrastructure levy to be explored.
  • Provisions to modify Section 75 obligations to remain unchanged.

Performance and Resourcing

  • Planning Bill to include additional enabling powers for discretionary charging and extend the range of services for which planning authorities can charge.
  • Further expansion of permitted development rights.
  • Plans for digital planning service.