Committee hears call for introduction of Scottish third party rights of appeal

The Scottish Parliament's petitions committee has heard calls for appeal rules in Scotland to be overhauled in order to give third parties to a planning application the right to appeal decisions.

Scottish Parliament: petition calls for introduction of third party rights of appeal (picture by Paula Funnell)
Scottish Parliament: petition calls for introduction of third party rights of appeal (picture by Paula Funnell)

The petitions committee, which is responsible for considering public petitions addressed to the Scottish Parliament, yesterday heard evidence from Clare Symonds, founder of campaign group Planning Democracy, calling for the introduction of "equal rights of appeal" in the planning system.

The campaign group's petition calls on the Scottish Parliament to urge the Scottish government to "review the current rights of appeal within planning and other consenting processes which give deemed planning consent, considering the benefits of widening the scope of appeal, and providing an equal right of appeal".

The petition states: "The need for this petition comes from a strong feeling of injustice from people in Scotland who have been affected by the decision to grant planning permission but who have had no right of appeal against the decision.

"This sense of injustice is compounded by the fact that an easy and accessible route of appeal is available to developers where there is a decision to refuse planning permission.

"We believe this imbalance represents a fundamental injustice in the Scottish planning system which should be resolved, and Planning Democracy propose that the Scottish Parliament call on the Scottish Government to commission a review of appeal rights in the planning system with a view to providing equal rights of appeal."

The introduction of a third party right of appeal was considered during the parliamentary scrutiny of the Planning etc. (Scotland) Bill in 2006, and supported by several major environmental groups, including Friends of the Earth Scotland, WWF and RSPB Scotland.

But the then communities minister Malcolm Chisholm ruled out the introduction of the measure, which had been opposed by business groups who claimed the the measure would increase delays in planning, be impractical to administer and could have unintended consequences, such as by allowing business rivals to scupper competing developments.

A Scottish Parliament spokeswoman said that the next stage for the committee will be to seek the views of Scottish homebuilders and the Scottish Wildlife Trust on the petition.

The spokeswoman said that to date the petitions committee has received more than 1,500 petitions and petitions can result in a wide range of actions, including parliamentary debate and changes to law and policy direction.

Equal rights of appeal in the planning system

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