Page last updated at 23:27 GMT, Sunday, 2 August 2009 00:27 UK

Major planning changes in force

builder at work
The process for small applications has been speeded up

The most significant changes to Scottish planning law in decades have come into force, as part of a drive to modernise and speed up the system.

Developers proposing major building projects are now required to give local residents a greater say.

And planning bosses can use new powers to crack down on rogue developers who breach regulations - including immediately halting work.

Ministers said the planning system must also support economic recovery.

'Modern system'

Planning Minister Stewart Stevenson said: "The Scottish Government is working to ensure Scotland's planning system is increasingly joined up, providing greater certainty and speed of decision making for developers and communities."

He added: "A key part of our economic recovery programme is ensuring all government activity, including on planning and regulation, supports economic development.

"The changes we are implementing are a further step towards the realisation of a planning system which is fit for 21st Century Scotland, further helping to position Scotland's economy for recovery."

Liberal Democrat local government spokeswoman Alison McInnes warned local authorities may struggle to foot the bill for some of the changes to the neighbour notification system.

She said: "Ministers appear to have made no extra funding available to councils to help ease this burden. This is yet another example of the SNP failing to get the detail right."

Here are some of the key changes which have come into force:

COMMUNITY CONSULTATION

Any plans for a national or major development, such as new schools or a bridge, require a consultation with local residents before the application is submitted.

Applicants must demonstrate how they will consult with the community and hold at least one, well-advertised, public event where residents can make comments.

Developers must also submit a report on the consultation with the application - failure to do this means the application is not considered by the planning authority.

TEMPORARY STOP NOTICES

Used in England for some time, these allow planning authorities to call an immediate halt to any activity - primarily urgent cases such as building demolition or where a river has been polluted - which breaches regulations.

Breaching an order carries the risk of criminal prosecution, with a fine of up to £20,000, and there is no right of appeal against one.

Temporary stop notices remain in force for up to 28 days, giving planning chiefs time to prepare a case to shut down work altogether.

Separately, planning authorities can hit anyone failing to comply with an enforcement notice with a fixed fine, or seek a prosecution as an alternative.

NEIGHBOUR NOTIFICATION

The responsibility to notify neighbouring landowners about applications falls on planning authorities, rather than developers.

Ministers expect authorities to do this "as soon as possible" after an application is validated, while neighbours now have 21 days, rather than the previous 14, to raise any concerns.

LOCAL REVIEW BODIES

Consisting of elected members and officials, these aim to help planning appeals for small developments move more swiftly through the system, rather than the matter having to be referred to ministers.

Applicants have the right to request a review through one of the new bodies, which have the power to change or endorse decisions taken by council officers.



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SEE ALSO
MSPs complete new planning bill
16 Nov 06 |  Scotland
Major planning reforms unveiled
20 Dec 05 |  Scotland
Fears build over planning reform
03 May 05 |  Scotland

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