The Planning (Scotland) Bill introduced to the Scottish Parliament on 4 December 2017 sets out the Scottish Government’s proposals for changes to the overall framework under which planning operates. The Bill seeks to re-focus the planning system on enhancing community engagement and reducing and simplifying procedures and processes. Key proposals include:
- Abolition of strategic development plans, with the national planning framework forming part of the development plan;
- Abolition of statutory supplementary planning guidance;
- Local development plans to be in place for a period of 10 years rather than 5 years, with the right to amend them during that time;
- Scottish Planning Policy to be incorporated into the national planning framework, to be reviewed every 10 years;
- Creation of Local Place Plans produced by a community body; and
- Compulsory training for councillors discharging planning duties.
The Bill does not include any reference to third party appeals. There has been a long-running campaign for the introduction of a limited third party right of appeal where those who have objected to a proposal that has been granted planning permission can request a review of the decision. However, Scottish Ministers are opposed to the creation of a third party right of appeal.
Stage 2 of the Planning Bill’s scrutiny in the Scottish Parliament concluded on 14 November. Over 300 amendments were voted on by the Local Government and Communities Committee. Amendments have been made to the definition of the ‘purpose of planning’ to read “to manage the development and use of land in the best long term public interest” and a statutory post of “Chief Planning Officer” has been introduced for all Scottish planning authorities. However, several areas of the Bill remain unclear: Strategic Development Plans have been retained, to be prepared on a 5 year cycle whilst Local Development Plans and the National Planning Framework will be on a 10 year cycle. Interestingly, compulsory training for councillors discharging planning duties has been removed, as have all the provisions relating to planning performance. No amendments attempting to change the planning appeals system were successful.
Stage 3 of consideration of the Bill will commence early in 2019. Stage 3 is the final stage and further Amendments may be tabled but the Presiding Officer of the Parliament has discretion to decide which, if any, are admissible. Issues that have been debated and concluded are unlikely to be considered again. At the conclusion of stage 3, Parliament will vote on the Bill.
The Proposed Strategic Development Plan for South-East Scotland, SESPlan, was submitted to Scottish Ministers in June 2017. The Examination of the Proposed Strategic Development Plan was completed by Reporters appointed by Scottish Ministers in May 2018 and their report was submitted to Scottish Ministers on 20 July 2018. It was published on the DPEA website on 24 July. The Reporters considered twenty-five unresolved issues and have recommended a number of modifications to the Plan. The response of the Scottish Ministers is awaited.
The Main Issues Report (MIR) relating to the new Scottish Borders Local Development Plan (LDP2) was published in November 2018 and has been the subject of wide consultation, including a programme of afternoon drop-in sessions and evening workshops held across the Scottish Borders. This programme concluded with a drop-in session and workshop in Hawick on 13 December. The MIR is available online at www.scotborders.gov.uk/ldp2mir. Hard copies are available to view at Council Headquarters at Newtown St. Boswells during normal office hours and at all Council Contact Centres and Libraries. The public consultation period continues until 31 January 2019. Remember, if you don’t make your views known, they can’t be considered.