Scots planning decisions ‘speed up’

The Scottish Government said the average time for a planning decision to be made on major developments in 2015-16 fell by 17% on the previous year.

Annual statistics showed decision times for local and major applications have reduced, meaning more housing and business developments can start to build sooner.

The average decision time for “major” developments in Scotland in 2015-16 was 30.5 weeks, about six weeks quicker than the average of 36.6 weeks in the previous year, according to a report from Scotland’s chief statistician.

The report said major housing applications were decided in an average of 40 weeks, about one week quicker than in the previous year and almost two weeks faster than in 2013-14.

The average decision time for “local” developments in 2015-16 was 9.8 weeks, almost three days quicker than the average of 10.1 weeks in the previous year.

Local housing applications were decided in an average of 13.7 weeks, almost a week quicker than in the previous year and a week and a half quicker than in 2013-14.

“Major” developments include applications for developments of 50 or more homes, as well as some waste, water, transport and energy-related developments and larger retail developments.

“Local” developments include applications for household extensions and loft conversions and smaller housing and retail developments.

The Scottish Government’s planning minister Kevin Stewart welcomed the statistics, but said more must be done.

Stewart said: “Effective planning is crucial to promoting sustainable economic growth and ultimately to helping build more homes.

“Speeding up the planning system is a vital part of this.

“These statistics are very encouraging, particularly at a time where we are looking at the best ways to reform and improve our planning system.

“The reduction in decision-making timescales can only be a good thing – it means we are open for business and helping create certainty within the building sector.

“It is clear many authorities have worked hard to achieve these improvements and these results form a strong base from which to move forward with planning reform.

“We have just announced 10 immediate actions we will take to help deliver more homes and businesses through an improved planning system.

“This includes extending permitted development rights, meaning local authorities will have fewer minor applications to deal with.

“These changes will allow them to ensure they are able to allocate the resources needed to focus on dealing with larger more complex developments.”