“Under-resourced” planning system putting growth at risk, warns RTPI

THE nation’s “under-resourced” planning system is putting large-scale infrastructure projects and construction-led economic growth at risk, the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) Scotland has warned.

Craig McLaren, RTPI Scotland director recently told a parliamentary committee that there had been 25% decrease in planning staff between 2009 and 2017, and a 40% cut in real terms in planning service budgets.

McLaren also highlighted that the Scottish Government’s own estimates show that only 0.38% of local authority budgets will be spent on development management and development plans in 2018/19. He added that failure to invest in the planning service “risks delays in getting planning applications processed and development plans published to allow for new homes to be built”.

RTPI Scotland has stated in written evidence to the committee that the new Planning Bill, currently going through Parliament, “adds 91 new and unfunded duties to local planning authorities, further reducing their ability to support construction and economic growth”.

According to RTPI Scotland, planning can help significantly reduce risks and costs of development but this is only possible if local planning departments are adequately resourced.

The Institute is also calling for new initiatives to support people in taking up planning as a career, and is urging the Government to set up a digital platform that would make planning information and data more easily available for the construction sector.