Project Scotland

Residential concerns expressed in north-east of Scotland

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Eric Shearer, of Knight Frank

A leading property consultant has expressed concern that residential development in the north-east of Scotland is being held back by regulations faced by house builders and the scale of contributions sought by local authorities.

Knight Frank’s Aberdeen-based planning and development team delivered the findings of its Residential Land Development Research to an industry audience in the city yesterday (June 9).

The presentation included a review of residential development in the region and a focus on the role of local authorities and the planning system. A key facet of the research was an examination of threats to the delivery of future residential development – with the burden placed on house builders during the planning process high on the list.

Eric Shearer, a partner in the Aberdeen office of Knight Frank, explained, “The north-east may have one of the strongest economies in the UK, but the lengthy planning process for housing developments, particularly for large masterplanned sites, is delaying the construction of much needed housing.The requirements for developer contributions as they stand do not take into account the fall in the oil price and the wide ranging disparities in land prices across the region. There is strangely no relationship between the cost and the ability to pay. 

“In our experience the cost of planning gain of a site in Peterhead may amount to or equal 50% of the land value, yet in Westhill the cost is only 14% of the land value.  Developers in many instances are facing considerable delays in obtaining planning consents and this requires to be given a higher priority by the councils if the supply issues are to be properly addressed.”

Amongst the areas identified were high levels of developer contributions sought from those in the house building sector, the emphasis on the delivery of affordable housing on site and increasing design and sustainability requirements.

Eric Shearer added, “Demands being made at the planning stage under Section 75 legislation are wide and varied, ranging from the provision of major transport infrastructure through to the construction of medical centres, schools and other community facilities. Whilst there is an acceptance of developer contributions, we would advocate a more consistent and realistic approach to help ease the logjam in the residential development pipeline. Taking into account current economic factors is a vital part of the process. 

“With the momentum generated from the progress on construction of the AWPR and the opportunities for the provision of new infrastructure from the ‘City Deal’ the prospects for the Region remain bright.”

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