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Row over Scotland planning bill’s short-term lets move

Words: Roger Milne
Andy Wightman MSP / Scottish Parliament

Scottish Green MSP Andy Wightman has accused the SNP and Conservatives of conspiring to water down changes to the current Planning [Scotland] Bill designed to introduce tighter controls for short-term lets.

The measures in question would have required planning permission in all cases where a property was being changed from a main dwelling to a commercial let.

According to Wightman, the SNP-Tory deal will instead see the new measures apply only in certain areas designated as ‘control areas’ and follows months of intense lobbying from the short-term let industry.

He said: “What I was seeking to do is clarify and simplify the law governing change of use to make it easier for planning authorities to regulate the sector as they see fit.

“By making my amendment only applicable in defined areas, the rest of the country will be left with unclear rules about what constitutes a change of use.

“The bill was the opportunity to clarify this and the government has had since October 2018 to discuss this with me. It has not done so, and instead has been working with the Tories behind the scenes to water down its impact.”

“It is clear to me that the short-term let industry has been successful in lobbying ministers and the Conservative Party to weaken the bill. Their changes will be worse than the status quo and Greens will be opposing the amendment.”

The amended legislation is waiting to be debated by all MSPs at what is known as the third stage reading.

Image credit | Scottish Parliament