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20/06/2019

Scotland’s draft planning legislation amendments accepted

Words: Roger Milne
Kevin Stewart / Scottish Parliament

The Scottish Government’s planning legislation is on course to complete its parliamentary scrutiny with minimal upsets as MSPs considered the much-amended Planning (Scotland) Bill.

Planning minister Kevin Stewart was successful in changing the bill to include measures that set out a new approach to strategic planning designed to act as “a strong but flexible bridge between national and local planning”.

This would allow authorities to decide appropriate arrangements for themselves.

Under these amendments Scottish ministers would have the power to issue guidance as well as direct a planning authority or authorities to prepare and adopt – or to review – a regional spatial strategy.

Stewart told MSPs: “I believe that these amendments strike a good balance by ensuring that not only is there a clear duty, but that the detailed arrangements are flexible and can respond to local circumstances. They will deliver on our original aim to modernise strategic planning so that it can unlock the potential of planning and guide our long-term development in a way that can better respond to evolving relationships on a regional scale.”

By the final day of the stage 3 debate as this article was published (20 June) the Scottish Government had only been defeated on one amendment, which would have given ministers the power to appoint an assessor of the performance of planning authorities.

Monica Lennon, the Labour MSP for Central Scotland and an RTPI member, was unsuccessful in changing the bill to specifically reflect health, gender and equality issues. The Greens drew a blank on measures to tighten controls on short-term lets and measures to control hill tracks being bulldozed through natural areas without consent.

MSPs agreed to moves to require chief planning officers but rejected further attempts to establish a third-party or community right of appeal. The bill, though, does now include proposals for a mediation regime.

Image credit | Scottish Parliament

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