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Development plan surge increases DPEA workload

Words: Roger Milne

Scotland’s Directorate for Planning and Environmental Appeals (DPEA) handled an unprecedented number of development plans during 2013/14, says the organisation’s latest annual review.

Although the volume of appeals was down by more than 10 per cent on the previous year, this was more than offset by the extra work required to deal with the strategies, chief reporter Lindsey Nicoll explained. 

“This has been a particularly challenging year” she said. Nicoll pointed out that reporters assigned to plan examinations do not work exclusively on the plan and have other casework that is done in parallel.

“This can give rise to conflicts in priorities and we have not been able to meet our targets in all cases. 

“Nevertheless, 88 per cent of all appeals were determined within the target date and five out of seven development plan examinations were completed within nine months,” she reported.

Planning and local government minister Derek Mackay agreed the year had been “challenging” for the directorate. He noted that the appeals regulations had been amended to bring additional classes of appeal within the scope of the new appeals regime.

He added: “A new opt-in procedure was introduced to assist in the management of cases with large numbers of representations. 

“This has been a great success in reducing unnecessary administrative procedures and ensuring that those with an active interest have the opportunity to participate fully in the process.”