The Scottish Planning System – response to Scottish Government’s Consultation on Planning Reform

In January 2017, the Scottish Government published a consultation paper ("Places People and Planning") which provided details of the proposed changes to the planning system in Scotland. This was in response to an independent review of the Scottish planning system in May 2016, Empowering Planning to Deliver Great Places”.

NTBCC submitted comments to the initial independent review in August 2016 (which can be viewed here) as well as responding to these latest Scottish Government (SG) proposals, titled "Places People and Planning" ; this April 2017 NTBCC submission can be viewed here.

Overall, NTBCC were disappointed in the SG response to the Independent review’s recommendations. Planning should and can provide a long-term perspective, tackling important issues such as development delivery, health, inclusion, environmental quality and climate change. But the SG response is too vague; containing too many aspirational proposals and too much “sloganeering” with too few practical detailed actions. The importance of creating “place” is barely touched on. Despite statements about increasing “people” involvement, too many of the suggestions imply drawing control into the centre. We believe that considerably more work is required to redress these issues and we hope that following further consultation, a more meaningful proposal will emerge.

Key NTBCC comments to the latest SG proposal include :

  • Questioning the lack of defined role for Community Councils in “Community Partnerships” (which are aimed at aligning community planning and spatial planning) and further examination of Community Councils’ status within the formal planning process.
  • Concern over the very limited statements covering the role of planning in achieving high quality place making, urban design, landscape and architecture. We believe that the aims should be rewritten to include protection and enhancement of our distinctive places and high quality environment; ensuring that changes are in keeping with and of comparable quality with the established townscape.
  • The real or perceived effectiveness of the Pre-application consultation process and the need to lower the threshold for what constitutes a “major development”.
  • Raising many concerns with the current planning process which undermine public trust e.g. questionable decisions following appeals ; accountability of Councillor’s decisions (no record of individual votes) ; attritional approach to gaining approval by some developers by resubmitting almost identical applications; lack of enforcement (adequate powers exist but local authorities frequently too timid or risk-averse to exercise them) ; concern over the decision-making process where the local authority is also party to the development.
  • Questioning the absence of proposals to extend the right of appeal to objectors in certain cases e.g. when an application has been approved (often on appeal) contrary to the officials’ recommendations and to the council’s own adopted policies ; or where the local authority has a financial or other interest.
  • Support in principle for an infrastructure levy for specific developments but with some caveats.
  • Support for increasing planning fees for larger developments to reflect the added complexity but noting that this needs to provide a more dedicated service.
  • Ensuring that the planning service is properly trained and resourced to deliver good planning.

Thanks to Stephen Hajducki for drafting this response for NTBCC.

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Some funding opportunities

(based on information sent by Loraine Duckworth of Edinburgh Council)

OneCity Trust

The OneCity Trust is pleased to announce that its main grant programme is now open for applications. Registered charities and constituted groups based in Edinburgh and focussing their work in the city with an annual income of less than £200,000 are invited to apply for funding for social inclusion projects meeting one or more of the priorities of (1) community connectedness (2) cultural bridging (3) civic inclusion

For more information, go to www.onecity.org.uk, telephone Elaine McCafferty on 0131 469 3856 or email 1718applications@onecity.org.uk.

Edinburgh Trust Community Fund

This is a new fund which registered charities, constituted groups, non-constituted groups, and individuals are all eligible to apply to. The application closing date is fairly soon: 21 April 2017.

To apply, go to http://www.evoc.org.uk/updates/edinburgh-trust-community-programme

For help with applications contact Christina Hinds, Development Worker, Telephone: 0131 555 9103

Draft management plan for the Edinburgh World Heritage site … have your say!

(adapted from an email from Jenny Bruce, World Heritage Site Co-ordinator)

Consultation is now open for feedback on the draft Old and New Towns of Edinburgh World Heritage site management plan (2017-2022). Edinburgh Council is asking what you think of the draft plan, and would welcome you sharing the consultation link (https://consultationhub.edinburgh.gov.uk/sfc/onte-whs-draft-plan) far and wide.

The consultation (downloadable here) looks at the six themes we discussed in our Oversight Group meetings and it will take about 15-20 minutes to respond. You can respond using the online survey (the detailed proposals appear alongside the relevant survey questions) or download a copy of the questions and submit your feedback via email. The consultation will close on 5 June 2017. An initial summary of findings will be published within 8 weeks of this date.

The feedback received will be analysed and further considered by the management partners to update and modify the Plan; the final version of the Management Plan will be formally endorsed by the partners by September 2017.

If you have any queries, please don’t hesitate to get in with the Site Co-ordinator (contact details below).

Jenny Bruce | World Heritage Site Co-ordinator | Planning and Transport Service| Directorate of Place | The City of Edinburgh Council | Waverley Court - G3 | 4 East Market Street | Edinburgh | EH8 8BG | Tel: 0131 529 3510 | jenny.bruce@edinburgh.gov.uk