Page last updated at 17:09 GMT, Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Minister outlines planning strategy

Planning Minister Derek Mackay outlined details of his Planning Reform: The next steps strategy, during a debate on the issue on 15 January 2013.

Mr Macakay said: "My Planning Reform: Next Steps package focuses on leadership and cultural change to ensure a higher standard and more streamlined planning service.

"I believe we have strengthened planning's contribution to increasing sustainable economic growth.

"I continue to make progress to drive forward improvements and efficiencies in our planning system.

"I remain committed to delivering improvements to the planning system in partnership with practitioners and partners.

"Not centralisation or fundamental overhaul, but a methodical actions-based approach that helps with the recovery of the economy in Scotland, to build the kind of country that we all wish to live work and invest."

The Scottish Government proposals include refining the examination process for planning applications to speed up the system, a 20% increase in planning fees to help raise revenue and removing the requirement for pre-application consultation when amending a condition associated with a major development.

The key priorities for the next stages of the government's planning modernisation are:-

  • promoting the plan led system
  • driving improved performance
  • simplifying and streamlining processes
  • delivering development

Labour's planning spokesperson Sarah Boyack said whilst planning was not seen as a frontline service it was "absolutely fundamental to the health and success of our communities".

Ms Boyack also said that more clarity was needed on the government's proposals.

She said "The document gives you the headlines but it doesn't give you the understanding and the arguments. It is vital we are able to scrutinise what the Scottish Government are doing".

Margaret Mitchell, the Conservatives planning spokesperson called for improved public consultation in the planning process.

Ms Mitchell said "Too often local people feel aggrieved that while the letter of the law is being followed, the spirit of the law is not.

"Every MSP will have the experience of attending public meetings where complaints are made about neighbourhood notifications being issued at peak holiday times, and fact-finding Q&A planning application exhibits being held at inconvenient times for those affected to attend.

"In these circumstances, it's not surprising that local people feel aggrieved, suspicious and are then set against the application. This, in turn, causes delays which have a negative impact on economic growth projects which could have been avoided."

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