On the introduction of the Planning Bill into the Scottish Parliament, we announced that we were very pleased to see the continued commitment to improving the planning system in Scotland. Scotland’s economy needs a flexible, positive and effective planning system, and whilst much work has been undertaken since 2015, we expected that significant questions will be raised during the progress of the Bill.
We have observed from the written evidence that has been lodged so far, that many stakeholders share our views - much information is still required on the specifics of implementation of new legal and policy mechanisms which may undermine transparency together with a thorough examination and scrutiny of the Bill's proposals. The challenge of delivering both more and good quality housing and the approach to infrastructure provision is far from resolved - as expected concerns have been raised by "infrastructure levy" proposals. If there really is to be a step change from that of a regulator, to a positive and active enabler of good quality development and a shift from reacting to proactively supporting investment and development proposals, then there needs to also be a significant cultural change – the Bill alone will not do this. Finally, whilst local planning authorities also need to be adequately resourced in both financial and human terms, it is unclear form the Bill whether charges could be made beyond planning application fees. There is also no requirement for an efficient and effective delivery of planning of service in return for services charged, which the development sector again calls for.
As the Local Government and Communities Committee is the lead Committee in scrutinising the Bill, it’s keen to talk to representatives from key private and public sector stakeholders. We are delighted to be invited and given the opportunity to input and share our views alongside other key players from the sector.
Planning partner, Sarah Baillie, will be attending a forthcoming session with MSPs who are members of the Committee.