Industry bodies welcome decision on planning appeal rights

THE Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) Scotland has welcomed the decision of the Scottish Parliament’s Local Government and Communities Committee to resist calls for introducing third party rights of appeal on planning decisions.

RTPI Scotland convenor Fraser Carlin said, “The Planning Bill is a great opportunity to put communities at the heart of deciding how places will change. We believe the way to do this is through supporting people to engage early and meaningfully in plans and decision making. The proposals considered by the Committee would have entrenched confrontation when we need collaboration between everyone with an interest in our built and natural environment. They would have Ied to more local decisions being made by central government at a time when we want to give communities more say over the places where they live. And they would have allowed competing commercial interests to frustrate development and potentially pit one part of a community against another.

“The proposals would also have put immense strain on planning departments who are already under severe resourcing pressures. When the Bill moves to Stage 3, we want to see further amendments to make sure that the tools and resources are in place to support proactive and positive public involvement in planning.”

Industry body Homes for Scotland (HFS) said despite this move, there remains “uncertainty” over what will happen at the next stage as the new Planning Bill progresses through parliament.

Tammy Swift-Adams, HFS director of planning said, “Scotland’s planning and development communities have been on tenterhooks, waiting to see whether populism or pragmatism would win out in the debate on planning appeal rights. Whilst the amendments which concerned us most have been voted down for now, uncertainty remains as to what will happen at Stage 3 when the Bill is debated by the full parliament. Much work remains to be done as the Bill’s progress continues.

“Homes for Scotland will continue to work with MSPs and other stakeholders to help shape a planning system that delivers what the country needs, including what the review set out to facilitate: significantly more homes.  Politicians of all parties have agreed this is a top priority. Changing appeal rights would have the opposite effect, cutting off a small but vital source of housing supply.

“Substantial evidence has already been submitted on why this is the case and why it would not only exacerbate the housing crisis but also damage the Scottish economy and risk jobs. Fairness in planning doesn’t hinge on who has access to appeal rights, but on what the planning system succeeds in delivering. It is clear, however, that more constructive and trust-building ways of positively engaging people in planning must be found.”