SPF calls for ‘simplified’ planning system as bill enters final stage

THE Scottish Property Federation (SPF) says it ‘remains concerned’ that last-minute amendments to Scotland’s new planning bill could ‘derail’ the system.

The final stage of the Planning (Scotland) Bill will start this week with a three-day debate in Holyrood.  

The SPF said that following the lodging of more than 200 Stage 3 amendments, the organisation is pleased to see evidence of cross-party cooperation but is concerned that a number of late amendments could hinder the planning system if passed.  

Miller Mathieson, SPF chairman said, “At our annual conference in March, we called for parliament to work together to untangle the Planning Bill after a string of unworkable amendments were passed at Stage 2. We appreciate the time MSPs and officials have since dedicated to recovering this Bill, including the allocation of three days of debate. 

“Efficient and effective planning is crucial for future development and investment in Scotland. It starts with a workable, competitive planning system that unlocks opportunity rather than hindering it. We call for MSPs to bear these implications in mind and agree to return the Bill to its original intention of creating a simplified planning system for Scotland, which focuses on delivering much-needed homes, jobs, and investment.”

Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) Scotland described the planning bill as an ‘historic opportunity’ to create a system that makes a real difference for communities across Scotland.

The organisation said it could help create a system that enables people to engage early in discussions on the future of the places where they live, work and relax. However, RTPI Scotland warned that the proposals would only be effective if the necessary funding was in place.

Julia Frost, convenor of RTPI Scotland said, “There are number of very positive ideas being promoted through the bill which, if properly resourced, could make the planning system more proactive, collaborative and able to deliver better designed places and buildings.

“We are pleased that it is proposed to cut the 91 unfunded duties that were introduced into the bill earlier. However, MSPs need to ensure that every decision taken over the next three days of parliamentary scrutiny takes careful consideration of how the remaining duties will be funded, especially when planning departments have lost a quarter of their staff and have had their budgets cut by 40% since 2009.”