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Major planning decisions times slow down in Scotland

Words: Laura Edgar
Decline / iStock-163210926

In July to September 2016, the average decision time for local developments was faster than the equivalent quarter in 2015, but the average decision time for major developments was slower, according to Scotland’s chief statistician.

In quarter two of 2016/17, there were 6,684 decisions made on local development with an average decision time of 9.1 weeks. In comparison to the previous quarter, this was slower by one day but quicker by almost four days when compared to the same quarter (9.6 weeks) in 2015.

According to the chief statistician, the average decision time for major developments was 44.8 weeks. There were 48 decisions made on major developments, which include developments comprising 50 homes or more.

This was more than five weeks slower that the previous quarter, which averaged at 39.3 weeks.

There were also 318 local developments decided in the second quarter of 2016/17 that had processing agreements in place, with 83 per cent of these meeting agreed timescales.

Tammy Adams, director of planning, Homes for Scotland, said the figures show no improvement. Slow planning decisions, along with complications relating to conditions and developer contributions, “continue to be one of the main blockers to the delivery of housing”.

“We know ministers are not happy with current performance and that Scottish Government officials are looking at the root causes of the delays. While we hope that the planning review will refocus the system and prioritise the delivery of enough new, high-quality homes to meet housing need, the truth is that we just can't wait for that.”

The housing crisis will get “bigger” if decisions on planning applications and appeals are not made in good time.

“The Scottish Government is now consulting on increasing planning fees for major developments. Planning services clearly need to be properly resourced, but a fee hike will not be palatable unless there is a guarantee that performance will improve,” Adams concluded.

The statistics can be found on the Scottish Government website.

Planning figures for England have also been published, which suggest that district level planning authorities granted 381,300 decisions in the year ending September 2016.

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