Proposed legislation to improve the planning system in Scotland must be clearer to ensure that it delivers the planning development programme that Scottish communities deserve.
In a briefing issued to MSPs, the Law Society of Scotland has welcomed proposals to increase community engagement in the planning process but warns that the Planning (Scotland) Bill is currently unworkable and risks adding significant additional costs on local authorities, developers and communities.
Alastair McKie, Convener of the Law Society of Scotland’s Planning Law Sub-Committee, said: “Planning is a matter which affects all communities and it is crucial that our laws are clear and understood by everyone involved in the planning system. We welcome the introduction of Local Place Plans and changes to Local Development Plans which will strengthen community engagement in the process. However, throughout the Bill, there are instances of multiple amendments to the same sections and, as a result, the Bill is now difficult to follow with complex and contradicting provisions.
“We welcome a number of the amendments lodged to the Bill in advance of stage 3, some of which seek to restore the Bill back in line with its original objectives. We are not in favour of a third party right of appeal being introduced at this stage and have called for sufficient parliamentary time for full consideration of the Bill before a final vote in the Scottish Parliament.”
The professional body for Scottish solicitors has also warned that the Bill in its current state will have drastic resource and financial implications.
Alastair McKie added: “The Bill has been significantly amended resulting in around 60 additional duties on planning authorities and 25 on Scottish Ministers. The Scottish Government’s own revised cost benefit analysis of the amended legislation shows that unless further changes are made to the Bill, there will be substantial additional costs involved in the planning process. We are concerned by the changes which could result in costs of up to £74 million for planning authorities and up to £12 million for local communities.”