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Scottish planning bill is ‘unworkable’

Words: Laura Edgar
Planning bill increases burdens on Scottish planning authorities / iStock-944386020

The Planning (Scotland) Bill is unrecognisable from its original purpose and is an ‘unworkable tangle’, according to the chairman of the Scottish Property Federation (SPF).

Speaking at the organisation’s annual conference earlier this week (6 March), Millier Mathieson called on all political parties to work with the industry to “fix” the bill.

Many amendments have been made to the bill since it was originally introduced in December 2017. Those amendments mean “it is no longer fit for purpose”, said Mathieson.

He claimed it places 66 additional and uncosted burdens on planning departments, which are already underfunded and badly resourced, while the Scottish Government would have an additional 25 related burdens.

“Our planning system is broken and is in severe danger of being made worse,” Mathieson explained. “The latest assessment is that the bill adds a further 91 additional burdens. The resourcing is already at breaking point and this cannot make it better. Let’s step back from the brink. In the words of Henry Ford, ‘Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently’.”

RTPI Scotland has also highlighted the extra burdens local authorities and the government would face due to the bill.

Craig McLaren, director of RTPI Scotland, told The Planner: “We agree that the 91 new and unfunded duties in the current version of the bill could have a calamitous impact on the planning service. These come on top of an already difficult time for planning departments which have had the most severe cuts of all local government services with a 25 per cent reduction in staff and 40 per cent loss in budget since 2009.”

Mathieson also said the bill is one of four factors that could potentially undermine Scotland’s vital real estate sector, alongside a lack of development, failing to attract and accommodate a skilled workforce and a more delivery-focused approach to infrastructure development.

Read more:

Scottish planning bill places more than 60 new duties on planners

Lack of planning resources puts new Scottish infrastructure at risk

Image credit | iStock