Fairer Scotland

A planning system that supports sustainable development

December 18, 2020 by No Comments | Category Planning

Scottish Government Housing Minister Kevin Stewart

Today I have published changes to the Scottish Planning Policy. The changes tackle complex and difficult issues in our planning system that have been the subject of a number of legal disputes. The changes confirm our continuing support for the delivery of good quality, sustainable development, in the right locations that strike the best possible balance.

I am very grateful for the considerable time and energy that people have spent thinking about this particularly complicated aspect of the planning system and responding to our consultation – we have given very careful consideration to the wide range of views we received.

The changes are intended to make the planning process more predictable and straightforward for everyone. The changes apply to all proposed development, including housing. Whilst I am clear that we need to do all we can to deliver more homes for Scotland, it is important that they are supported by plans that are prepared by councils, with the involvement of local communities. Where proposals are not specifically addressed in plans, they must be sustainable.

I hope that the reworded policies will reduce pressure to release unallocated, and potentially unsuitable, land for development when the rate at which homes are built on the ground is slower than expected for many different reasons. I also agree that plans cannot fully anticipate every eventuality and so the revised policies include some flexibility that will still allow sustainable development to happen where it is needed. New technical planning advice also sets out how to work out whether or not councils have allocated enough land for new homes in their area.

I know that views on these changes were strongly divided, but I hope that people will recognise that the changes we are making today are a sensible compromise that will make sure the planning system functions fairly and properly until our new planning policies come forward next year. The changes will operate on an interim basis until the new National Planning Framework completes its parliamentary process in spring / summer 2022.

Our work on planning will now focus on delivering the ambitious agenda for change that we set out in our recent update on National Planning Framework 4. This will include collaborative work with colleagues across the sectors in the coming months to ensure that, in future planning, decisions can be better informed by more accurate information about when and where house building is happening across council areas.

We want everyone to have a safe, warm place to live that meets their needs, and are clear that sustainable development remains fundamental to our communities and to our green economic recovery from COVID-19.


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