Annual statistics published this week show that the average time taken for major planning decisions has fallen by nearly 17 per cent from last year.

The figures show that time taken for a decision on major planning applications has dropped by over six weeks in 2015/16 compared to the previous year and decisions on major housing developments were on average nine days faster than in 2014/15.

Decisions on major development planning applications took an average of 30.5 weeks in 2015/16.

The decision time for local housing developments has dropped five days in the past year and for all local developments by almost three days to just under 10 weeks.

Housing Minister Kevin Stewart said he recognised the “strong base” from which to continue with the Scottish Government’s planning reform.

Stewart said: “These statistics are very encouraging, particularly at a time where we are looking at the best ways to reform and improve our planning system.

“The reduction in decision making timescales can only be a good thing – it means we are open for business and helping create certainty within the building sector.

“It is clear many authorities have worked hard to achieve these improvements and these results form a strong base from which to move forward with planning reform.”

Tammy Adams, head of planning at building industry body Homes for Scotland (HFS), said the figures were “a useful barometer”, but could only tell us so much.

She said: “The fact remains that our members continue to experience frustrating delays to planning decisions across Scotland and HFS therefore echoes the minister’s view that more needs to be done on improving performance.

“It is crucial that this is looked at across the piece. Section 75 negotiations (on what developer contributions are required) can double the amount of time it takes to issue a decision.

“Once a decision has been issued, the delivery of much-needed new homes can be further delayed as developers await yet more decisions relating to planning conditions.

“And, at present, if permission is refused or decisions are not forthcoming, the appeal system is struggling to cope with the current volume of cases.

“The on-going review of the planning system provides an opportunity to address these and other key issues in order to create circumstances which better support an increase in housing delivery across all tenures.

The Scottish Government recently announced 10 immediate actions it will take in response to the recommendations of independent planning review published in May.

These include extending permitted development rights, meaning fewer changes will require planning permission, which is intended to allow local authorities to focus on major developments.

Source: Holyrood

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