Rule changes aired over consultations

Proposed alterations to Scotland's new planning system have been published amid assurances that a major shake-up is not under way.

Most significant is a move to reduce the scope of pre-application consultations, with views sought on whether they should be required for section 42 applications to vary existing permissions. A cut in the minimum 12-week period before applications for major projects can be submitted is also suggested.

The document is a response to complaints that the rules are disproportionate and can add delay and cost to relatively modest proposals.

It points out that the minimum period was introduced to encourage "meaningful engagement and reflection on the views offered". It warns: "A reduction in the 12-week period would reduce delay but could also reduce engagement with communities and consultees."

Views are also sought on easing the requirement to advertise applications. However, the government stresses that the proposals are simply fine tuning following a 12-month assessment.

"The consultation should not be taken as a signal that we are doing a fundamental review of planning modernisation, the key elements of which have been introduced relatively smoothly," it says.

The possible changes come as a charrette led by town planner Andres Duany got under way into proposals for a 3,500-home community in the green belt west of Edinburgh.

Edinburgh Garden District would feature schools, community facilities, a 25,000-seat sports stadium and the Carlyx national garden education and training centre on a 240ha site.

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