Sturgeon puts planning, housing and infrastructure at heart of programme for government

The Scottish government has reaffirmed its commitment to bring forward a Planning Bill 'early' this Parliamentary session as part of its programme for government for the next five years which also included pledges on infrastructure development and £3 billion of investment in affordable homes.

Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon (pic: First Minister of Scotland)
Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon (pic: First Minister of Scotland)

Scotland's first minister Nicola Sturgeon yesterday set out the Scottish National Party government’s plan for the next five years.

The programme for government document identified planning as having a "critical role to play in supporting continued growth and investment and creating great places".

It said that, following the recommendations of the recent independent planning review, it would "bring forward a Planning Bill early in the Parliamentary session" which would "maintain our commitment to a strong, high-performing system that enables housing and infrastructure delivery and supports quality of life of all our communities by promoting quality of place and the public interest".

The document said that, ahead of the Bill, the government would "implement the recommendation for Simplified Planning Zones to help attract investment and promote housing delivery. Later this year we will work with local authorities to identify suitable locations".

"We will also build on the successful, streamlined approach to planning in Enterprise Zones and we will work with local authorities to speed up decisions on major projects to deliver investment and economic growth more quickly.

"We will also support interim measures to modernise compulsory purchase orders in advance of legislation to ensure vacant and derelict land can be brought back into use in our communities", it said.

Other commitments included:

  • £3 billion for affordable housing supply over the life of this Parliament, "delivering at least 50,000 homes with 35,000 of them for social rent".

  • The Strategic Transport Projects Review will be reviewed, "in alignment with the National Planning Framework to enable a comprehensive review of national infrastructure priorities".

  • A pledge to "examine the case" for the extension of the Borders railway, "the UK’s longest newly-constructed railway for more than 100 years".

  • The designation of up to 18 new protected marine areas.

  • The publication in 2016-17 of a Climate Change Plan which would "set out infrastructure priorities for the coming decades". This would be accompanied by a new Energy Strategy, "providing a visionary statement of the Scottish government’s plans for low carbon energy production and energy use over that period". 

"Together, the Climate Change and Energy plans will steer decisions on a host of issues: how we heat and power our homes and businesses, how people and goods will move around our country in the future, how our land is used and how the standard of the buildings in which we live and work can be improved to reduce the cost of energy", the document said.

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