Scottish Government proposals for planning reform ‘disappointing’ says BEFS

Written by Tom Freeman on 18 August 2017 in News

Built environment groups suggest Scottish Government has watered down its ambition for planning system reform

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The Scottish Government has watered down plans to shake up the planning system in Scotland according to a group of major built environment organisations.

In a response to a government position statement, published this week ahead of a proposed planning bill, Built Environment Forum Scotland (BEFS), which represents 23 organisations in the sector, expressed disappointment that “the scope of the review has shifted from major reform to a series of procedural changes.”

Plans to shake up the system with a “game changing review” were launched in 2015 by Alex Neil, then social justice secretary, with the aim of creating inclusive growth through the town planning system.


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Kevin Stewart, Minister for Local Government and Housing, said: “We need to strike a balance in addressing the many issues raised. It is crucial that planning helps drive forward inclusive growth by enabling high quality development in a way that involves local people as fully as possible.”

However BEFS said there has been little change to the plans in the new document since the previous consultation.

However the new proposals do not contain enough detail about how the built environment would achieve its aims, according to BEFS, despite the publication of a strategic environmental assessment (SEA) Report, which sets out the environmental impacts of the proposed changes.

“There is little attention given within the proposals to the state of the environment, despite the recognition in the SEA that planning is about achieving ‘high quality, sustainable places’,” it said.

The submission also questions the lack of integration with other policy areas in the bill.

“BEFS members would like to see the purpose of planning being clearly linked to the National Performance Framework, which integrates policy priorities across strategic outcomes for Scotland that are grounded in achieving public good.

“Linkages to wider policy areas (such as community empowerment, landscape management) should be explicit.”

The Scottish Government maintains no decisions have been made on the content of a future planning bill at this stage and further views will be taken into account.

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