Scotland planning news, July 2019


Scotland planning news, July 2019

01 Jul 2019



Headline news


Planning (Scotland) Bill passed

On 20 June, the Planning (Scotland) Bill passed Stage 3, following three days of parliamentary debate and after more than 18 months since it was first introduced.

The Bill was heavily amended during Stage 2, with almost 400 amendments agreed by MSPs, leading key stakeholders (including the RTPI Scotland) to fear that it could turn unworkable and unnecessarily complex, particularly if local authorities were not granted the necessary resources to implement the relevant provisions.

However, at Stage 3 the Scottish Parliament has agreed (without division) some significant amendments, such as the introduction of Regional Spatial Strategies (Section 1C) and the consequent removal of the requirement to prepare strategic development plans (Section 1D). Furthermore, amendment 182 has tweaked Section 14F (Conditional grant of planning permission: noise-sensitive developments) to effectively introduce the so-called “Agent of Change” principle in Scottish Law.

Other amendments introduced at Stage 2 were eventually rejected or reduced in scope. Among these, the controversial third party right of appeal (amendment 161) was disagreed to by division, while strict national restrictions on short-term lets were rejected in favour of more limited powers for councils to designate ‘control areas’ (Section 11B).

The Planning (Scotland) Act also introduce Local Place Plans (Section 9), which will allow local communities to prepare plans covering their districts (similar to Neighbourhood Plans in England). Moreover, Section 26C introduces the requirement for each planning authority in Scotland to have a chief planning officer.

Scottish Planning Minister Kevin Stewart commented:

‘This Bill is a radical new way forward for planning in Scotland. It’s a vision that empowers communities to have a positive say in shaping their future.’

Finally, the RTPI Scotland has welcomed many of the provisions introduced by the Planning (Scotland) Act, such as the introduction of statutory Chief Planning Officers, and the retention of statutory strategic planning with the introduction of Regional Spatial Strategies.

Planning (Scotland) Bill [As Passed]

Scottish Government, Community given more say in planning

RTPI Scotland, Introduction of statutory Chief Planning Officers welcomed by RTPI Scotland



Quote of the month


There is now more scope for local planning to influence regional and national plans, and we expect to see more collaboration where people and local authorities across Scotland work closely together for all our benefit. The quality of the places where we live, work and play can have a lasting impact on health, wellbeing and prosperity - that’s why planning, and this Bill, are so important.

Scottish Planning Minister, Kevin Stewart, commenting the Planning (Scotland) Bill passing Stage 3


Chief Planner letter’s update on current workstream

On 14 June, the Scottish Chief Planner John McNairney wrote a letter to provide an update on the current workstream undertaken by the Planning and Architecture Division.

On top of the Planning Bill’s updates (which predated the conclusion of Stage 3 debate), the Chief Planner confirmed that the preparation of the fourth National Planning Framework (NPF4) will begin following the conclusion of the Planning Bill’s scrutiny, and further updates will be provided over the summer.

Other relevant updates include the progression of the Digital Planning Strategy, which publication is expected later in 2019, the establishment of a new independent Infrastructure Commission for Scotland, and updates on the Land Value Uplift Capture report submitted by the Scottish Land Commission.

Scottish Government, Update on current workstreams: Chief Planner letter

Increase in household numbers

A National Statistics publication has shown that the number of households in Scotland has grown by 139,000 over the last ten years, to reach 2.48 million in 2018.

The ‘Estimates of Households and Dwellings in Scotland, 2018’ highlights how the number of households has increased in every council across Scotland, with the greatest relative growth occurring in Midlothian and the Orkney Islands (16% and 13%, respectively).

Scottish Government, Household numbers continue to rise


The Lichfields perspective


The quite significant reshuffling of the development plan structure should lead to swifter preparation of new local development plans. However, the ten-year cycles and reduced stages in preparation means that there will likely be fewer opportunities to influence plans. It will become increasingly important for the development industry and communities to engage early and meaningfully in plan preparation.

Gordon Thomson, Associate Director


Disclaimer: This publication has been written in general terms and cannot be relied on to cover specific situations. We recommend that you obtain professional advice before acting or refraining from acting on any of the contents of this publication. Lichfields accepts no duty of care or liability for any loss occasioned to any person acting or refraining from acting as a result of any material in this publication. Lichfields is the trading name of Nathaniel Lichfield & Partners Limited. Registered in England, no.2778116