The long-awaited Planning (Scotland) Bill was published 4 December and sets out the high level changes to the overall framework under which planning operates. Further legislation and guidance will be prepared to confirm how the proposals will work in practice. The Bill is still to undergo Parliamentary scrutiny and Royal Assent, after which the Scottish Government will commence work on developing the required secondary legislation. The headlines are as follows:
Strategic Development Zones
- Strategic Development Zones (‘SDZs’) are being introduced, providing deemed planning consent;
- SDZs may also permit certain types of adverts.
Delegated Powers and Appeals
- Council’s are to provide new schemes of delegation. Allowing greater delegation of applications;
- Appeals of Certificate of Lawful Use and adverts now to be made to the Local Review Body if determined by delegated officer;
Timescales to implement Planning Consent
- The time period to implement a planning permission can be varied by the Council – longer or shorter than the standard 3 years, where no condition is attached, the 3 year period will be presumed;
- S.42 applications can be progressed to seek a new planning permission with varied timescale for implementation, providing the original period has not lapsed;
- Notices of completion can be issued by the Council to remove planning permission for unimplemented parts of the planning permission by a certain time, normally 12 months, from the notice coming into effect, without the Scottish Ministers needing to agree this measure. A period for objection to Scottish Ministers is provided;
- S.75 obligations are extended to include restriction to the use of land and to a figure which must be paid. S.75 can last in perpetuity or for a specified period. This is a slight amendment to allow payment where there is no restriction to use of land. Restrictions can also now be imposed on a non-applicant.
Scottish Minister Fees
- Bill allows ability for Scottish Ministers to charge fees for planning, not just planning authorities, could this result in fees for appeals or for applications “called-in” or referred to Scottish Ministers?
- Enforcement penalties are increasing from £20k to £50k.
Council training and performance
- Councillors cannot make decisions on planning applications until they have undertaken a minimum amount of training. Where there are insufficient trained members of the authority – decisions can be made by another authority or Scottish Ministers.
- Planning authorities must publish an annual report on their performance to Scottish Ministers.
- A person appointed by Scottish Ministers will report to them regarding the monitoring of planning authorities, their performance reports and any measured they consider necessary if performance is not acceptable or in need of improvement. The appointed person report should set out the steps required to make improvements and the planning authority should respond with a report to confirm how and when the measures will be put in place.
- There is provision for new powers for an infrastructure levy and to issue regulations and guidance. This is likely to be similar to England, although further guidance will clarify in due course. There are details provided regarding the type of infrastructure that might be covered, details regarding payment and withholding planning consent/stopping development to ensure payment.
- There is a right of appeal as to whether the infrastructure levy applies and the calculation of the overall cost.
The publication of the Planning (Scotland) Bill on 4th December 2017 marks the start of the process of improvement of the existing Scottish Planning system. The measures will help streamline and improve the process of national and local level policy, introduce measures to secure a better funded system to assist delivery and infrastructure, whilst also improving the role of local communities in the planning process.
At a time of significant pressures to deliver housing and economic development, the role of a well-functioning planning system could not be more crucial and so these improvements are welcomed. Overall, the measures appear limited, given the significant input into the consultation process, which provided innovative and constructive suggestions to improve the current system. However, it is acknowledged that much of the detail will be provided in forthcoming Secondary regulations and guidance.
WYG will be closely monitoring for secondary regulations and guidance. If you want to discuss how this may affect your proposals, don’t hesitate to contact Lisa Russell on 0131 247 5719 or Sandra Manson on 0191 255 7374.