The Scottish Government will reform the planning process in Scotland following an independent review, local government and housing minister Kevin Stewart has announced.
A new planning bill will be put before the Scottish Parliament in 2017, but the Government will take a number of actions in the meantime to implement the recommendations.
The Scottish Government’s response outlines 10 immediate actions that it will carry out prior to bringing forward a white paper on the legislation later this year.
These include working with local authority heads of planning to extend permitted development rights, piloting simplified planning zones for housing, working with local authorities to expand their capacity for house building and working on more effective methods of engagement such as 3D visualisation tools.
The Scottish Government will also carry out further work on other aspects of the review such as establishing working groups for each of the six areas covered in the review and appointing an IT taskforce to look into the technological aspects of planning management and engagement.
In line with the review’s recommendations, the Scottish Government has confirmed it will not introduce third party right of appeal in planning decisions.
The recent review of planning in Scotland was carried out by an independent three-person panel, Scottish Government Council of Economic Advisors chair Crawford Beveridge, chief executive of PAS Petra Biberach and former chair of the Scottish Property Federation John Hamilton.
Their ‘Empowering Planning to Deliver Great Places’ report, which was published at the end of May, consists of 48 recommendations under six themes to improve and streamline the Scottish planning system.
Announcing the Government’s plans, Stewart said: “It is clear from the recommendations of the independent panel, and the feedback from local authorities, developers and communities, that our planning system can do more for Scotland.
“I firmly believe that Scotland's planners can lead the delivery of great places, empower communities and provide a stable environment for investment through the uncertain times we live in.
“I welcome the positive report produced by the panel and am impressed that public and private interests in planning are willing to work together and with government to make changes happen.
“We must now work together to ensure our planning system is best placed to support economic growth and house-building, whilst protecting and enhancing the quality of life of all our communities.”
He added that the Scottish Government will develop proposals for further reform of the planning system over the coming months and will bring them forward for consultation by the end of the year.
Building industry body Homes for Scotland (HFS) has welcomed the Scottish Government’s proposals.
HFS’ head of planning, Tammy Adams, said: “Having been encouraged by the ambitious nature of the 48 recommendations previously made by the independent panel appointed to undertake the ‘root and branch’ review, we are pleased to see the Scottish Government maintaining the momentum of this work, both in pace and tone.
“The programme that has now been outlined provides an excellent opportunity for HFS and other key stakeholders to work collaboratively with the Scottish Government to ensure this next set of planning reforms achieves real results.”