Policy Summary: Scottish government outlines proposed planning changes for 2017-18

Policy: A Nation With Ambition: The Government's Programme For Scotland, 2017-18.

Holyrood: planning system shake-up
Holyrood: planning system shake-up

Issued by: Scottish Government

Issue date: 5 September 2017

Background: In its Places, People and Planning consultation document published in January 2017, the Scottish Government outlined 20 proposed changes to the country's planning system. It has previously said it would publish a Planning Bill "early" in this parliamentary session to implement some of the changes. This programme for government document confirms the bill's introduction in this parliament and outlines new details of other proposed planning changes.

Key points: The document confirms that it will take forward a new Planning Bill during this 2017-18 parliament. A precis of the bill says it will create a "simpler, more effective system of development plans", improve "procedures for preparing plans" and ensure "communities will have better opportunities to influence the future of their areas".

Among the planning changes announced in the document are proposals to "use new powers to restrict the over-provision of betting shops and payday lenders, explore how food outlets in the vicinity of schools can be better controlled and work with local authorities to support people to live an active lifestyle through access to places to participate in physical activity".

Another newly-announced measure in the programme says that the government "will support the increased delivery of self-build and custom-build homes" and "provide more flexibility for both individual homeowners and the construction industry". The measures "will include simplified planning zones for housing, in recognition of the significant opportunities for the self-build and custom-build sector". The Scottish government has previously said that simplified planning zones, which it first announced in July 2016, involve granting consent for "housing up front" in designated areas, "allowing developments to progress more quickly and flexibly".

The government programme document further promises, as part of measures to boost the rural economy, to "seek to empower our farmers and crofters to use their land for new sustainable developments, including housing". It adds: "As part of this, we will examine how we can use the planning and consents systems to fast-track sustainable developments - including housing - in order to generate new rural economic activity."

Actions previously announced include a "new approach" to simplified planning zones, "modernising" compulsory purchase orders and developing the country's shared digital planning service, called eDevelopment, guided by a new digital task force. It adds that the government wants to review the National Planning Framework, Scotland's national spatial plan, and "strengthen its alignment with wider strategies and programmes".

A Holyrood spokeswoman could not specify which new measures would be included in the Planning Bill, saying it was "currently being developed" and "will be published later this year". She added that some measures will be introduced through secondary legislation or other non-statutory means.

The document can be found here. 


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