Will changes to planning in Scotland improve the system? Asks Holyrood Committee


Will proposed changes to the planning system in Scotland give communities a greater say on their places? And will this protect the built and natural environment in Scotland?

These are just some of the questions the Scottish Parliament’s Local Government and Communities Committee will ask on The Planning (Scotland) Bill as it launches its call for written evidence today.

The Planning (Scotland) Bill aims to improve the system of development planning, support delivery of planned developments and includes a new right for communities to produce their own plans for their places.

The Local Government and Communities Committee now wants to put the new Bill to the test, and is looking to hear views from stakeholders as part of its scrutiny of the proposed legislation.

Local Government and Communities Committee Convener, Bob Doris MSP, said:

“The entire purpose of these proposed changes is to strengthen the planning system and boost its contribution to inclusive growth, housing and infrastructure in Scotland.

“The Bill also aims to empower people to have their say on their places more than ever before, so that communities can influence development plans in their local areas.

“Our Committee now wants to find out whether the Bill will deliver an improved planning system and if so, should any improvements and changes be made to the Bill so that Scotland can develop a world-class approach to planning its cities, towns and rural areas in the future.”


The Committee invites views on any aspect of the Bill but it would be helpful if written submissions could address the following questions:

1. Do you think the Bill, taken as a whole, will produce a planning system for Scotland that balances the need to secure the appropriate development with the views of communities and protection of the built and natural environment?

2. To what extent will the proposals in the Bill result in higher levels of new house building? If not, what changes could be made to help further increase house building?

3. Do the proposals in Bill create a sufficiently robust structure to maintain planning at a regional level following the ending of Strategic Development Plans and, if not, what needs to be done to improve regional planning?

4. Will the changes in the Bill to the content and process for producing Local Development Plans achieve the aims of creating plans that are focussed on delivery, complement other local authority priorities and meet the needs of developers and communities? If not, what other changes would you like to see introduced?

5. Would Simplified Development Zones balance the need to enable development with enough safeguards for community and environmental interests?

6. Does the Bill provide more effective avenues for community involvement in the development of plans and decisions that affect their area? Will the proposed Local Place Plans enable communities to influence local development plans and does the Bill ensure adequate financial and technical support for community bodies wishing to develop local place plans? If not, what more needs to be done?

7. Will the proposed changes to enforcement (such as increased level of fines and recovery of expenses) promote better compliance with planning control and, if not, how these could provisions be improved?

8. Is the proposed Infrastructure Levy the best way to secure investment in new infrastructure from developers, how might it impact on levels of development? Are there any other ways (to the proposed Levy) that could raise funds for infrastructure provision in order to provide services and amenities to support land development? Are there lessons that can be learned from the Infrastructure Levy as it operates in England?

9. Do you support the requirement for local government councillors to be trained in planning matters prior to becoming involved in planning decision making? If not, why not?

10. Will the proposals in the Bill aimed at monitoring and improving the performance of planning authorities help drive performance improvements?

11. Will the changes in the Bill to enable flexibility in the fees charged by councils and the Scottish Government (such as charging for or waiving fees for some services) provide enough funding for local authority planning departments to deliver the high –performing planning system the Scottish Government wants? If not, what needs to change?

12. Are there any other comments you would like to make about the Bill?

The closing date for submissions is 2 February 2018. Find out more on the Local Government and Communities Committee website.