Election 2021

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Chamber and committees

Meeting date: Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Meeting of the Parliament (Hybrid) 24 February 2021

Agenda: Portfolio Question Time, Prisoner Voting, Urgent Question, Local Government Funding, Business Motion, Parliamentary Bureau Motions, Decision Time, Citizens Advice Scotland


Contents


Parliamentary Bureau Motions

The Presiding Officer (Ken Macintosh)

The next item of business is consideration of Parliamentary Bureau motion S5M-24216, on approval of a Scottish statutory instrument.

Motion moved,

That the Parliament agrees that the Town and Country Planning (Short-term Let Control Areas) (Scotland) Regulations 2021 [draft] be approved.—[Graeme Dey]

The Presiding Officer

I believe that Andy Wightman wishes to speak against the motion.

Andy Wightman (Lothian) (Ind)

The regulations provide planning authorities with powers to designate short-term let control areas in which changes of use of residential property to short-term lets will require planning consent without any test as to the materiality of the change of use.

The regulations are one of two sets of regulations, the other being on licensing, that were laid in draft in Parliament and considered by the Local Government and Communities Committee on 3 February. In that meeting, I urged the minister to withdraw both instruments in order to address concerns that had been expressed. I am glad that, after many delays in bringing the two instruments to Parliament, the licensing one was indeed withdrawn, but the planning one remains before us this evening.

I have been campaigning for tighter planning controls and effective licensing powers over short-term lets for over three years. It gives me no satisfaction to stand here tonight speaking against the regulations, but I do so because, despite indications from the minister during the passage of the bill that became the Planning (Scotland) Act 2019 that they would empower local government, the regulations as laid require the approval of ministers before short-term let zones can be designated.

I fundamentally disagree with that. It is wrong that Mr Stewart or any Scottish minister should have the power to veto a planning designation such as a short-term let control area. I will therefore not be able to support the regulations at decision time.

The Presiding Officer

I call the minister, Kevin Stewart, to respond.

The Minister for Local Government, Housing and Planning (Kevin Stewart)

Short-term lets bring benefits to hosts, visitors and the Scottish economy. They are an important source of flexible and responsive accommodation for tourists and workers. However, they have also caused issues and adverse impacts for local communities.

The regulations, which were agreed to by members of all parties in the Local Government and Communities Committee, provide local authorities with powers to introduce control areas, but they do not require local authorities to use those powers. Control areas will help local authorities to manage high concentrations of secondary letting where they affect the availability of residential housing or the character of a neighbourhood. They will help to restrict or prevent short-term lets in places or types of building where they are not considered appropriate and they will help local authorities to ensure that homes in their communities are used to best effect.

The Scottish ministers will consider and approve proposals for control areas to ensure that they are justified and that the planning authority has followed the correct procedures. That includes consulting and taking account of the views expressed by the community, including residents and operators of short-term lets. The approval process will not be onerous, and I consider that it is right that the Scottish ministers have a role in ensuring that control areas are used appropriately.

Members are aware that I have withdrawn the legislation for a short-term lets licensing scheme in order to address concerns raised by members and tourism stakeholders. A stakeholder working group has been established to help develop draft guidance for licensing and control areas. I am sure that that guidance will help to provide reassurance on the operation of the scheme for operators, hosts and communities.

I believe that our proposals take a robust but proportionate approach to the regulation of short-term lets. In the meantime, control areas have been supported by parties across the chamber, and I urge members to support the motion.

The Presiding Officer

The question on the motion will be put at decision time.

The next item of business is consideration of six parliamentary bureau motions.

Motions moved,

That the Parliament agrees that the Personal Protective Equipment (Temporary Arrangements) (Coronavirus) (Scotland) Regulations 2021 (SSI 2021/50) be approved.

That the Parliament agrees that the Property Factors (Code of Conduct) (Scotland) Order 2021 [draft] be approved.

That the Parliament agrees that the Single Use Carrier Bags Charge (Scotland) Amendment Regulations 2021 [draft] be approved.

That the Parliament agrees that the Local Authority (Capital Finance and Accounting) (Scotland) (Coronavirus) Amendment Regulations 2021 [draft] be approved.

That the Parliament agrees that the First-tier Tribunal for Scotland Social Security Chamber (Allocation of Functions) Amendment Regulations 2021 [draft] be approved.

That the Parliament agrees that the Companies Act 2006 (Scottish public sector companies to be audited by the Auditor General for Scotland) Order 2021 [draft] be approved.—[Graeme Dey]