SPF urges more support for planning authorities to deliver economic ‘transformation’

Kevin Robertson

THE Scottish Property Federation (SPF) has called for additional resources for the planning system to support economic recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.

The move follows the publication of the Scottish Government’s National Strategy for Economic Transformation.

The SPF revealed it is concerned that a lack of resourcing within the planning system is leading to delays in processing applications. This, in turn, the organisation added, has consequences for projects reaching the construction phase and the delivery of new residential and commercial buildings.

While this is not a new issue, the SPF explained it has been compounded by the Covid restrictions and the additional burdens placed on the planning system by the 2019 planning reforms.

Giving evidence to MSPs from the Scottish Parliament’s finance and public administration committee on the Resource Spending Review Framework, SPF director David Melhuish highlighted the need to ensure Scotland’s built environment is put in a better position to support Scotland’s recovery from the pandemic, boost employment and meet net zero ambitions.

SPF chair Kevin Robertson said, “The Scottish Parliament voted for a major system of reforms to our planning services but did not support these new requirements with the resources necessary to deliver them. As we go through a period of economic transformation, we cannot lose sight of the planning system’s critical role in attracting investment and meeting the challenge of decarbonising our built environment.

“As a developer, we work closely with planning authorities to bring forward productive proposals to support our economy and wider built environment. But we see a planning service struggling to cope with repeatedly cut budgets and ever-increasing regulatory demands.

“Planning fees have recently been increased to better resource the planning service, and the SPF has always said that we would support increased fees for a better service. But this can only ever be part of the answer. We feel that if new burdens are placed on the planning service, then these demands should come with the resource necessary to deliver a modern, proactive planning service that can grasp the opportunities out there.”