TRADE body Homes for Scotland has branded the latest annual planning performance statistics for 2020/21 – showing a 17-week increase in the average decision time for major housing development to 54 weeks – as ‘unacceptable’.
The figure represents a 40% rise on the previous year and is more than three times the statutory requirement of 16 weeks. Decision times were quickest for ‘business and industry’ at 22.4 weeks.
Tammy Swift-Adams, HFS director of planning, said, “It was to be expected that the processing of planning applications would be affected by Covid-19 but the scale of change in relation to major housing applications is difficult to understand, particularly given the +40% drop in the actual number of applications in the corresponding period and the fact that figures for business and industry have improved.
“In light of the economic lifeline that has been delivered by construction over the last year or so, and with demand for new homes of all tenures remaining high, why should this crucial sector take more than double the length of time to determine when compared to applications for business and industry? Such delays only exacerbate existing supply problems and do not bode well for new affordable housing targets.
“Regardless, it is unacceptable that any applications take more than a year. Only last week, the directorate of planning and environmental appeals reported that it had avoided accumulating any backlog in case work despite the pandemic. It is disappointing local authorities were not able to adjust business practices as quickly or effectively and highlights the need for planning services to be better resourced.”