In its spending review, the Scottish government outlines plans to cut its planning budget from £4.1 million in 2011/12 to £3.5 million in 2014/15.
The budget funds a range of initiatives, among them the Planning Development Programme (PDP), which aims to ensure that planning authorities have the skills and expertise to make the planning system run effectively.
This programme has been drastically scaled down in recent years. A recent report by spending watchdog Audit Scotland on modernising the planning system revealed that the annual budget for PDP funding averaged £520,000 from 2006/07 to 2010/11, but is only £150,000 for 2011/12 and 2012/13.
The planning budget also funds Planning Aid for Scotland, a charity that offers free advice to help people engage with the planning system. A Scottish government spokesman said that the government would "continue to support the principles of the planning system, such as proper community engagement", although he would not specify exactly where funding cuts would be made. "There is less funding, but there will be more efficiency," he added.
Craig McLaren, national director of the Royal Town Planning Institute in Scotland, said that it remains unclear what the Scottish government's priorities would be when allocating the planning budget. "We don't yet know how it will cut the cake," he said.
The Scottish Spending Review 2011 can be viewed via Planning Resource.co.uk/go/reference section