THE Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) Scotland has urged Cabinet Secretary Derek Mackay to allow local authorities to raise planning fees to cover the entire costs of the planning application function.
The Institute said it fears amendments to Scotland’s Planning Bill, which is currently making its way through parliament, will introduce “many more duties” for planning departments and that the resource need of these has not been considered.
In a letter to Mr Mackay ahead of the upcoming Scottish Budget, RTPI Scotland sets out a five-point plan for resourcing planning:
- Increase planning fees to ensure they meet their costs, or introduce a subsidy for planning authorities to overcome this shortfall
- Provide financial investment to support skills development and culture change programmes
- Introduce a ring-fence that ensures that planning fees can only be used for planning purposes
- Provide resources to support the implementation of new digital platforms and initiatives that can make Scottish planning a world leading service
- Commit to funding any new costs or resource needs generated through new duties introduced in the forthcoming Planning Act
Fraser Carlin, RTPI Scotland Convenor said, “The Government’s Economic Action Plan recognises the important role of the planning system in supporting sustainable and inclusive growth. It must now match these ambitions with appropriate resources, without which the Plan would fail. We need planners working strategically and creatively across the Government’s agenda, not weak, under-resourced planning departments struggling so much with budgetary pressures that they can only provide the most basic statutory functions.”
RTPI Scotland said planning departments across Scotland have “suffered disproportionately” from budget cuts over the last few years.