Planning Review and the Planning (Scotland) Bill


Alex Neil MSP, who was Cabinet Secretary Social Justice, Communities and Pensioners’ Rights between 2014 and 2016,  announced more details on changes to the Scottish planning system and an independent panel was appointed in 2015 by Scottish Government Ministers to undertake the review.

The independent review focused on 6 key issues:

  • Development planning
  •  Housing Delivery
  • Planning for infrastructure
  • Further improvements to development management
  • Leadership, resourcing and skills
  • Community engagement

The new Housing and Planning Minister, Kevin Stewart MSP, announced on the 11th of July 2016 that, “the Scottish Government will reform planning to help deliver more homes and speed up the planning process”.

Please click here for the full response.

How did Rural Housing Scotland respond to the Planning Review announcements?

Rural Housing Scotland (RHS) today [14/7/16] welcomed the publication of the Scottish Government’s plans for reform of the planning system. The proposed reforms, published earlier this week, should cut into the time it takes to get new homes from the design stage to being ready for people to move in.

Debbie Mackay, Director of Planning with property experts Savills and a member of the Board of Rural Housing Scotland, said:

“The Government has moved swiftly to consider, welcome and push forward the recommendations of the “Empowering Planning” review. This shows real commitment to meaningful reform of our planning system and is hugely welcome. The immediate actions and challenging timescales they commit themselves to, should give real pace to the reforms which are badly needed. Speed and urgency are welcome, however they must also be balanced with inclusion of changes which will create a step change in provision of housing for rural and island communities where the lack of housing can create a spiral of decline in some of our most fragile areas.”

(Then) RHS Convener, Alastair Cameron, added:

“There’s much in this to welcome: the objectives for speedier decision-making and ensuring effective community engagement are right, and we’re pleased to see a commitment to involving rural interests in liaison activities, and to ‘island-proofing’ the effects of planning policy and practice. As ever, it’s in the detail where things might prove trickier. In our experience, and as the Scottish Government knows, rural housing development can be especially challenged by environmental, infrastructural and cost constraints. Reform needs to recognise these challenges if rural communities are to benefit as well as our cities.”

Following a further stage of consultation, the Cabinet Secretary for Communities, Social Security and Equalities, Angela Constance MSP, introduced the Scottish Government Bill on the 4th December 2017. The Bill is currently [April 2018] at Stage 1 (Evidence).

Further information on the bill is available here.

To understand the Planning Bill’s relevance and potential to deliver opportunities to rural Scotland, follow this link to view Richard Heggie’s (Urban Animation) presentation at the Rural Housing Scotland Conference 2018 as well as reading his opinion on how Planning can be catalytic.