Streamlining the Planning System

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In any regulatory activity that includes following a ‘process’ nobody wants that the process to dwarf the time or money needed to deliver the outcome or activity planned. The process should be efficient and effective. Fair and proportionate.

Heads of Planning Scotland (HOPS) has set out its Vision for the new Planning system, the focus for this blog is the third objective:

A more streamlined planning system which is more efficient and effective, which frees up planners from processes and procedures to enable them to contribute to implementation, delivery and engagement activities.

This reflects the overall approach set out in the independent panels review of Planning in 2016. There are a number of opportunities that HOPS has highlighted to Government and the Local Government Committee during Stage 2. This ranges from extending permitted development rights, up front community engagement during the preparation of Local Development Plans, the National Planning Framework and Scottish Planning Policy more clearly forming part of the basis of Planning decision making.

This was absolutely about decluttering the system. Bringing a focus on delivering Outcomes and not processes.

With stage 3 of the Planning Bill due to take place in the forthcoming months, there is still an opportunity to rationalise and tidy up the changes proposed to the Bill. With the increase in requirements, and costs, being added to the Scottish Planning system at Stage 2, this third objective is going to be hard for the Planning system to deliver. This isn’t just a HOPS objective, it was also the intent of the Planning Bill.

It is worth reflecting on what Planning does achieve in Scotland, with the annual Scottish Awards for Quality in Planning a great showcase.

HOPS has been working with partners such as RTPI and COSLA to support our MSPs through Parliamentary process on what change will look like on the ground from the practitioners in Scotland’s Planning authorities. You can read HOPS submissions to Stage 2 here.

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