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McNairney predicts new planning system will take until 2021 to shape up

Words: Roger Milne
John McNairney

Scotland’s chief planner John McNairney has forecast that it will take two years for the country’s new planning system to be up and fully running now that the Planning (Scotland) Act 2019 is on the statute books.

That’s his estimate of how long it will take to formulate the statutory guidance, and develop and publish the suite of new regulations needed to flesh out the act.

In a letter to interested parties, McNairney pointed out that the legislation includes provisions for regulations on development planning, development management, performance and fees.

He explained: “We are currently considering the timing and priority attached to each of these to inform a coherent forward work programme.

“The act includes new requirements for statutory guidance relating to a wide range of matters, including regional planning, engagement, development management and the role of the chief planning officer.

“As with regulations, we are considering what needs to be progressed initially, as well as matters that will develop over a longer timescale.”

McNairney pointed out that, alongside the act, his division has been progressing a sustainability appraisal of permitted development rights and expects to consult on a phased work programme on this.

He added: “We are considering transitional arrangements, particularly for development planning, and expect to issue further interim advice on this in the coming weeks.”

The chief planner stressed: “Clearly, this is an ambitious programme of change and we expect it will take around two years for the details of the new system to take shape.”

A timetable for the work programme will be published in September.

McNairney added: “The speed at which implementation can progress will depend on a range of factors, including the capacity of the Scottish Parliament and stakeholders, resourcing, research requirements, and the level of urgency in terms of the operation of the system.”

He revealed his division was open to offers of help from suitably-qualified practitioners prepared to work on a temporary basis. McNairney also emphasised that all this activity would take place against a backdrop of emerging new digital support.

The full letter can be found here on the Scottish Government website.