1.1 Background to data collection
Planning authority performance data is a statistical collection undertaken to establish the number of planning applications determined by Scottish planning authorities, and their performance in processing them. The Scottish Government Communities Analysis Division collects quarterly data from all 32 Local Authorities and the two Planning Authorities (Cairngorms National Park and Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park) on the detail of planning decisions and timescales.
1.2 Legacy cases
On 3rd August 2009 substantial changes to the statutory development management system, relating to the handling of planning applications, came into effect across the whole of Scotland. A few legacy cases that were validated pre 3rd August 2009 can badly skew results and therefore, where possible, analysis is provided separately for the current planning system post 3rd August 2009 as well as for all applications where decisions have been made.
1.3 Detailed tables of results
Additional detailed excel tables of results as well as a copy of this summary are available on the Planning Statistics page of the Scottish Government's website at: http://www.gov.scot/Topics/Statistics/Browse/Planning
Annual results for 2015/16 as well as previous year's results are available at: Planning Authority Performance Statistics 2015/16 Annual (These tables are referred to throughout this bulletin as "Annual, 2015/16")
Quarter 4 results for 2015/16 as well as previous quarter's results are available at: Planning Authority Performance Statistics 2015/16 Quarter 4 (These tables are referred to throughout this bulletin as "Quarter 4, 2015/16")
1.4 Categories of planning applications
For the purpose of planning applications, developments are put into one of three categories: local, major or national. The different types allow councils to treat developments in a way which is suited to their size, complexity and the issues they are likely to raise.
Local developments include changes to individual houses and, for example, smaller developments for new housing and retail. Most applications for planning permission will be for local developments.
Major developments include developments of 50 or more homes, certain waste, water, transport and energy-related developments, and larger retail developments. Classification between local and major developments depends on the particular development type. For example, housing developments are classed as major when the application is for 50 or more dwellings or for a site that exceeds two hectares, whereas electricity generation is classed as major when the capacity of the generating station is or exceeds 20 megawatts.
Details for the classification of all development types can be found here: http://www.gov.scot/Resource/Doc/278390/0083657.pdf
National developments are mainly large public works (for example, the regeneration of the former Ravenscraig steelworks) and are identified in the National Planning Framework ( http://www.gov.scot/Topics/Built-Environment/planning/National-Planning-Framework).
National Developments are not included in the planning performance statistics analysed in this publication.
1.5 Calculation of decision times
The average decision time in weeks is calculated in days from the date of validation  to the date the decision is issued. The average weeks are then calculated by dividing the number of days by 7. Data that allows calculation of average decision times has been collected for the past four years and quarterly trends over this time period are shown in sections 4, 5 and 6. However data for the percentages of local applications that were decided within two months are available over a longer time period. These results are reported separately in section 7.
1.6 Stopping the clock
For the year 2015/16, all planning authorities provided information on particular delays that were outwith their control and on which it was agreed it was appropriate to stop the clock for periods of time. There were 1,402 applications decided during 2015/16 (3.8% of all applications) where the clock had been stopped at some point in the application process, compared to 955 for 32 planning authorities (2.6% of all applications) in the previous year. This improvement in reporting is likely to lower some overall decision times between years.
In 2015/16 there were 8.5% of applications for local housing developments that had the clock stopped, with 41.6 weeks on average removed from decision times for these applications. For major housing developments there were 37.1% of applications that had the clock stopped, with 128.8 weeks on average removed from decision times for these applications. This has a marked effect on overall average decision times for both local and major housing applications.
Further details for applications that have had the clock stopped can be found in Annex 14.1.
Additional quality assurance of data was carried out when analysing annual data and some alterations were made to previously published quarterly data. Over Quarters 1, 2 and 3 of 2015/16 there were a total of 21 revisions made to figures for 11 local authorities. The only change to headline figures (post 3rd August 2009) is the average decision time for all local developments in quarter 1 of 2015/16 has increased from 9.5 weeks to 9.6 weeks.
In addition, figures for Appeals to Scottish Ministers for some local authorities in quarters 1, 2 and 3 previously included enforcement and other categories of appeals that should not have been included. These revisions have resulted in the following changes to Scotland figures:
2015/16 Quarter 1: Number of Cases Decided from 101 to 79. Percentage of Original Decisions Upheld from 49.5% to 44.3%.
2015/16 Quarter 2: Number of Cases Decided from 101 to 87. Percentage of Original Decisions Upheld from 51.5% to 50.6%.
2015/16 Quarter 3: Number of Cases Decided from 109 to 75. Percentage of Original Decisions Upheld from 59.6% to 50.7%.
The revisions have been listed on a separate revisions sheet in the latest quarterly publication: Planning Authority Performance Statistics 2015/16 Quarter 4
The revisions policy for planning performance statistics has been developed in accordance with the UK Statistics Authority Code of practice for Official Statistics and further details are available at: http://www.gov.scot/Topics/Statistics/Browse/Planning/Revisions