14 Aug 2019
So back in January 2018 I was bemoaning three main elements with regards to plan making under the Planning Bill as was:
The loss of regional planning;
The apparent centralisation of plan making - a shift toward Scottish Government and away from local authorities; and
The reduced opportunities for the development industry and public at large to be involved in plan making.
At the time there seemed to be significant consequences of the Bill as written that were at odds with the very reasons stated for the planning review in the first place.
Since then our MSPs and Scottish Government have been engaged in a Planning Bill “Hokey Cokey” with provisions “put in” and provisions “taken out” – including regional planning.
This blog deals with where we got to as a result of this merry dance and what it might mean for the development industry in terms of plan making in the future.
But first what of my 3 moans?
Regional Planning is “in” but out of the Development Plan;
Central Government are still preparing one of the essential documents in the Development Plan (NPF) and are still responsible for approving LDPs. Seems there has been little change from that that was contained in the Bill in January 2018 in this respect other than clarity that the Planning Authorities must provide info, as required by Scottish Government, to inform the making of the NPF; and
The new Act lays it on really thick in terms of consulting with young people and gypsy and travellers, community councils, the public at large but not the development industry who will be the main users of the Plans prepared. There remains little opportunity for the development industry to get involved in the plan making process unless you force it at every stage.
The Planning (Scotland) Act 2019 was placed on the statute book at the end of July. There are some big changes proposed and transitional arrangements are required. Scotland’s chief planner John McNairney has forecast that it will take two years for the planning system to be up and fully running now that the new Act is on the statute books. The big question is how much opportunity is there to influence the provisions for the implementation and regulations?
A series of blogs on topics related to the new Planning (Scotland) Act 2019 will be published by Lichfields over the next few weeks setting out our thoughts on matters arising including first the new arrangements for regional planning, the national planning framework, local development plans and local place plans and then consideration of what the new evidence reports should contain, our thought on assessing housing need and allocation deliverable housing land, thoughts on assessing properly and planning for employment land, examinations, viability and deliverability, etc.
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16 May 2019
On 16 May 2019 the South East Scotland Strategic Development Plan (SESplan 2) was rejected by Scottish Ministers on the basis that strategic transport infrastructure issues were not properly considered.
This reflects badly on strategic planning for South East Scotland. The currently approved iteration of SESplan was approved in 2013. At the time of its examination it attracted significant criticism from Scottish Government Reporters in terms of meeting its housing land supply requirements. However, the plan was not rejected by Ministers on the basis that the issues surrounding housing requirements could be addressed by the preparation and adoption of supplementary guidance and approval was allowed.
Today’s Ministers’ decision on SESplan 2 is due to their finding that the plan has not be adequately informed by a full Transport Appraisal addressing strategic transport infrastructure issues, including cross-boundary requirements. This calls into question the plan’s spatial strategy. The ministers have highlighted that concerns in relation to these matters were repeatedly raised during preparation of SESplan 2 but have not been addressed.
Unlike with the previous SESplan, Scottish ministers have determined that the use of supplementary guidance is not a suitable means of addressing the issue. As the spatial strategy should be informed by a full Transport Appraisal, preparation of supplementary guidance on the issue would not allow for amendment of the spatial strategy if required, potentially rendering the strategy undeliverable.
Ministers have now requested the Strategic Development Planning Authority think again and prepare a new SESplan 2 properly informed by the required Transport Appraisal.
The rejection of the plan at this time will be a hindrance to local authorities in the area who have awaited approval of SESplan 2 before progressing their own Local Development Plans. This will likely result in development plans across the city region becoming out of date.