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Planning Bill for Scotland introduced

By Paul Norman - Thursday, December 07, 2017 10:50

The Planning Bill for Scotland has been published this week aiming at introducing major improvements to the country's planning system following an independent review last year.

A Bill for an Act of the Scottish Parliament was introduced by cabinet secretary for communities, social security and equalities, Angela Constance MSP, on Tuesday.

Provisions include Simplified Planning Zones and proposals to develop an Infrastructure Levy to support infrastructure development and generate momentum on regeneration schemes. It also includes a right for residents to produce their own development plans.

The Bill reports that provisions will "improve the system of development planning, give people a greater say in the future of their places and support delivery of planned development. The Bill and wider review aim to change planning‘s operation and its reputation from that of a regulator to a positive and active enabler of good quality development; a shift from reacting to development proposals to proactively supporting investment and quality placemaking".

It adds: "The Bill contains a range of provisions which will strengthen processes, engagement and participation rights across the planning system and in delivery of the planning service."

These it says are to:


  • "Focus planning, and planners, on delivering the development that communities need, rather than focus on continuous writing of plans that lack a clear route to delivery,
  • Empower people and communities to get more involved and to have a real influence over future development,
  • Strengthen the strategic role of planning in co-ordinating and supporting the delivery of infrastructure needed to support development, including much-needed housing,
  • Reduce complexity, whilst improving accountability and trust in planning processes and decision-making.


The contents of the Bill are

Part 1 - strengthens and reaffirms the role of the development plan, and of the plan-led system, in setting a clear and deliverable vision of where and how areas will develop. This Part enhances the status of the National Planning Framework, incorporating the Scottish Planning Policy and bringing it within the statutory development plan. It also removes the requirement to produce strategic development plans, and restructures the processes for production of local development plans to support greater emphasis on delivery of development. It includes a new right for communities to produce their own plans for their places.

Part 2 makes provision for simplified development zones, which will frontload scrutiny of potential development sites, delivering consents through zoning of land.

Part 3 makes a number of changes to development management processes. This Part amends current provisions for considering and deciding planning applications to support improved efficiency, appropriate local consultation and more local decisionmaking.

Part 4 deals with changes required to support effective performance across a range of planning functions. This Part strengthens planning authorities‘ ability to effectively use their powers to ensure appropriate enforcement of unauthorised development. It also widens the scope for charging of fees in relation to planning functions and takes a more structured approach to performance improvement across planning services. This Part also introduces a new requirement for members of planning authorities to undertake training in planning.

Part 5 makes provision for the introduction of an infrastructure levy payable to local authorities, linked to development, which can be used to fund or contribute to infrastructure projects that can incentivise delivery of development.

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