In 2012 the Scottish Government published Planning Reform: Next Steps which prioritised the next stages of planning modernisation. The document committed the Scottish Government to take forward a number of projects to improve the operation of the planning system by simplifying and streamlining processes.
The Scottish Government’s Planning and Architecture Division is working closely with stakeholders to deliver these projects. Central to success of these projects is collaborative working with stakeholders to develop aims, test, measure, and implement changes. The projects follow the 3-Step Improvement Framework to Public Services, which supports action at a local level and supporting the conditions to enable this to happen.
Whilst only a small number of planning applications are subject to legal obligations, the negotiation and conclusion of planning obligations has been recognised as a matter which can impact on the overall time taken to determine relevant applications. The Scottish Government, in discussion with planning authorities, therefore undertook to identify common issues contributing to delays in concluding such obligations, and to develop good practice to help minimise those delays which fall within the authority’s control. This led to the publication in 2013 of the '10 good practice points’.
We will continue to work with authorities to learn from the implementation in practice of individual good practices.
Streamlining Scottish Planning Assessments
The provision of information and of assessments to support planning applications (e.g. flood risk assessments or retail impact assessments amongst others) was identified as an area in Planning Reform Next Steps where more can be done to improve consistency and aid the operation of the planning system.
We have brought together a cross-section of stakeholders engaged in the preparation and review of planning assessments, to develop and test change ideas for streamlining and improving efficiency, proportionality and clarity. As an initial step, a stakeholder workshop took place on May 20, 2014 to discuss and agree the next steps for this project. Presentations from that workshop are available.
Since then, the Scottish Government has published the following Guiding Principles setting out those ways in which all parties can help to ensure that in future the provision of supporting information to accompany planning applications is more streamlined.
Streamlining assessments – next steps:
The Scottish Government is working with South Ayrshire and South Lanarkshire planning authorities Key Agencies and consultants to develop and test change ideas using the Improvement Framework approach. For further information or to discuss the project please contact Cara Davidson or Simon Pallant.
- Driver Diagram: setting out the project’s aims, initial targets, and an outline of factors to be addressed. The driver diagram was developed following discussions with stakeholders at the recent streamlining assessments workshop.
- Change ideas: following the May 2014 streamlining assessments stakeholder workshop, South Lanarkshire and South Ayrshire undertook testing of the Guiding Principles and a supporting information summary template. A series of process mapping sessions have since been held with individual stakeholders, leading to new change ideas being developed and tested
Updates on the project are available via a stakeholder newsletter.
Streamlining Planning Assessments - Stakeholder Survey
To establish an evidence base against which future changes can be tested, we invited stakeholders engaged in the commissioning, preparation and review of Scottish planning assessments, to complete a short online survey during April 2014. The results of that survey are available.
Effective project management of the development plan process is vital. We have been working with Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park Authority (LLTNPA) and Orkney Islands Council to pilot a Gateway Review process to assist in the project management of the Local Development Plan process. The process involves setting up an independent review team to advise whether the project is adequately progressing. The focus is on project management of the process not the quality of the plans policies. The LLTNPA was carried out in summer 2014 Orkney in March 2015. Feedback from all stakeholders was very positive. A summary of each review has been produced alongside the key considerations in setting up a Review.
Other Planning Reform Projects
We are also taking forward two other projects that will contribute to improvement in the operation of the planning system: