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Scottish Government urged to invest in planning in upcoming budget

Words: Laura Edgar
Scotland / iStock_000005929582

RTPI Scotland and Heads of Planning Scotland (HoPS) have called on the Scottish Government to invest in planning in the forthcoming Scottish Budget (9 December).

Together, the organisations have published an analysis estimating that the planning system needs at least £86 million over the parliamentary term (2021-2026) so that its core statutory functions can be carried out.

The analysis suggests that much of the money can be met through an increase in planning fees, more than £24 million needs to be funded through the Scottish Budget over this Parliament.

This equates to 0.01 per cent of the total Scottish Budget 20/21, but approximately a 40 per cent net revenue increase to the planning system over the next five years.

The institute has identified the areas in which funding is required from the government: carrying out additional duties from the Planning (Scotland) Act 2019: the establishment of the Office of National Planning Improvement Coordinator; local place plans; and chartered town planner apprenticeship scheme.

The cost of processing planning applications to full cost recovery could be met through the proposed planning fees regulations increase, which the Scottish Government expects to set before the Scottish Parliament by the end of the year.

In a letter to finance secretary Kate Forbes, RTPI Scotland and HoPS ask her to “readdress years of disinvestment in the planning service”.

“Whilst the monetary ask of the profession is modest, we are in no doubt that such funding is critical, as an absolute minimum, for the planning system to continue to carry out its statutory functions. The planning system has been most severely affected of all local government services in terms of budgets with a reduction of 42 per cent since 2009 with a third of planning department staff cut over the same period. Added to this the planning has demographic and succession challenges with a limited pipeline. Only around 9 per cent of staff in planning authorities are under 30. An estimated replacement demand of around 500 planners over the next 15 years is required.”

The organisations stress that planning has a “vital role” to play in facilitating a post-Covid-19 pandemic recovery that is sustainable, resilient, and inclusive by “accelerating progress to a zero-carbon economy, increasing resilience to risk, and through creating fair, healthy and prosperous communities”.

The letter and analysis can be found on the RTPI Scotland website.

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