Scotland planning news, August 2021


Scotland planning news, August 2021

19 Aug 2021



Headline news


Amendments to Scottish Planning Policy quashed

The Court of Session has quashed the amendments made to the Scottish Planning Policy (SPP) in December 2020 and the accompanying Planning Advice Note 1/2020 (the “PAN”). The amendments were designed to prevent the ‘tilted balance’ from becoming an integral component in the Scottish planning system. The PAN introduced a standardised approach for measuring the five year housing land supply. It was acknowledged that the measures represented a temporary intervention while National Planning Framework 4 (NPF4) was being prepared, by which the standardised approach would be incorporated once NPF4 was adopted.
The December amendments to the SPP stemmed from a previous judgment by the Inner House, following an appeal by Gladman Developments Limited regarding residential development at Quarriers Village, Kilmacolm (covered in our December Planning news). This case concluded that a presumption in favour of sustainable development should have been the starting point for the proposal as it provided a solution to the housing shortage which is a significant material consideration. The Inner House found that there is no need for the precise level of any shortage to be calculated, but what is required is a broad assessment of the extent of the shortage. This allows the decision maker to consider the weight to be attached to the shortfall and the extent of any negative ramifications required to tilt the balance towards refusal of the proposal.
The first of the Petitioners challenges was that the consultation was ‘clearly’ unfair due to misleading statements in the consultation documents, and as such was found to be unlawful. Other grounds included submissions that the Scottish Ministers had misconstrued the opinion of the court in Gladman; it had failed to assess the impact of introducing the PAN and the average method of calculating the five year effective housing land supply; it undertook flawed impact assessments; and it was also wrong to conclude that the proposed changes were not strategic.
This decision effectively returns planning policy for residential developments to the position it was in post-Gladman, therefore the tilted balance applies, however, with the Scottish Government expected to be publishing NPF4 for consultation in the autumn, its seems likely that another effort will be made to negate the influence of the tilted balance in the Scottish planning system.
For further information on this case and insight on what we might expect from the NPF4 see Lichfields series of blogs which looks at this contentious matter within Scottish planning and the development industry.

Grahams The Family Dairy Limited And Mactaggart & Mickel Homes Limited v Scottish Ministers  [2019] CSIH 3 XA58/18



Quote of the month


I’m pleased to be increasing significantly the available affordable housing grant funding for council areas to help with this important work.

The five-year allocations will provide the certainty and assurance the housing sector needs to deliver the ambitious affordable homes target set out in our Housing to 2040 strategy.

Cabinet Secretary for Social Justice, Housing and Local Government, Shona Robison MSP


New Chief Planner

The Scottish Government has appointed Dr Fiona Simpson as interim Chief Planner, following the retirement of John McNairney. Mr McNairney held the position of Chief Planner for nine years and worked for a total of 22 years for the Scottish Government.  Dr Fiona Simpson has been appointed on a temporary basis while the recruitment process takes place for a permanent Scottish Chief Planner.

Scottish Government Planning Twitter

Funding for affordable homes

The Scottish Government has committed £3.2 billion in grant funding for affordable housing over the next five years. The funding will be allocated to councils from the government’s Affordable Housing Supply Programme and should be utilised by councils to deliver affordable housing for their communities. The funding is a sizeable increase from the previous amount of funding provided which was £541 million for the last ten years. The most funding has been given to Glasgow City Council who will receive £537.9m followed by Highland Council with £240.1m. The money aims to help the Scottish Governments goal of building 100,000 affordable homes over the next ten years. Housing Secretary Shona Robison said “We have already delivered more than 102,000 affordable homes since 2007. Building on this, our aim is to deliver 100,000 affordable homes by 2032, with at least 70% of these for social rent”.

Scottish Government, affordable housing funding

Cleaner Air for Scotland 2

‘Cleaner Air for Scotland 2’ (CAFS2) has been published which outlines the Scottish Government's air quality policy framework for the next five years and a series of actions to deliver further air quality improvements. CAFS2 has previously been consulted on in the autumn of 2020 and the publication of the final version has taken into account the responses from that consultation. CAFS2 is based around ten themes which include:
  • Health – A Precautionary Approach
  • Integrated Policy
  • Placemaking
  • Data
  • Public Engagement and Behaviour Change
  • Industrial Emissions Regulation
  • Tackling Non-Transport Emissions Sources
  • Transport
  • Governance, Accountability and Delivery
  • Further Progress Review




The Lichfields perspective

The recent court decision that PAN 1/2020 must be quashed is welcome news to those concerned with the delivery of an adequate supply of homes in line with identified need. However, the intent to adopt or, at the very least, endorse in certain circumstances the average method is clear. If this is to resurface in NPF4, this time with primary status as part of the statutory development plan then there will be significant implications for the delivery of homes across Scotland in coming years.
Gordon Thomson, Planning 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