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Scottish proposal to link planning fees to performance

Scotland’s Planning Minister Derek Mackay has unveiled proposals to improve efficiency and streamline the planning system north of the Border, including linking increases in fees to improved performance by planning authorities.

In a statement to the Scottish Parliament, he launched a series of consultations and measures to establish further changes to the planning system following the comprehensive reforms of 2006.

The minister announced a new performance framework for planners developed by Heads of Planning Scotland and the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities.

He also signalled his intention to link planning performance to fees, so authorities that fail to improve performance would not be able to charge greater fee levels. Under this scheme developers would pay a single, proportionate fee to cover all aspects of the planning application.

The proposals are part of a range of measures to help planning boost economic growth, removing unnecessary obstacles to delivering projects, including reviewing planning agreements and obligations and a consultation on innovative approaches to delivering development.

Other proposals include extending permitted development rights to some areas of non-householder development.

Proposals to reform the fee system will also address Audit Scotland’s concerns, raised in their report Modernising the Planning System that the funding model for the planning system is “becoming unsustainable as the gap between fees and expenditure increases”.

The minister said: “The 2006 Planning Act contained the most significant changes to the planning system in 60 years. It has bedded down well but more needs to be done to deliver the efficient plan-led system we aspire to.

“What I have published is a comprehensive package of measures to drive improved performance, simplify and streamline the planning process, deliver development and promote a plan-led system”.

The following consultations were launched:

  • fees for planning applications
  • development plan examinations
  • development delivery
  • amendments to non-domestic elements of permitted development
  • miscellaneous amendments to the modernised planning system.

The following documents have also been published:

  • Planning Reform – Next Steps
  • National Planning Framework for Scotland 2 – Monitoring Report.

Read the consultation documents and publications.

Roger Milne

4 April 2012