Planning performance statistics: annual and quarterly reports, 2016-2017

Statistics on planning decision-making and timescales between the periods 2012 to 2013 and 2016 to 2017.

1. Introduction

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 Uses of the Statistics

The key objective of the statistics is to allow Scottish Government and the planning authorities to monitor the performance of planning authorities in the timeliness of deciding planning applications. The statistics monitor the impact of the development management system, part of the modernising planning agenda, which was implemented on 3rd August 2009. These statistics also feed into the evidence used in the territorial liaison meetings between Scottish Government Department for Built Environment officials and planning authorities. Further details are available at:

1.3 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.

1.4 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:

Annual results for 2016/17 as well as previous year's results are available at: Planning Authority Performance Statistics 2016/17 Annual (These tables are referred to throughout this bulletin as " Annual, 2016/17")

Quarter 4 results for 2016/17 as well as previous quarter's results are available at: Planning Authority Performance Statistics 2016/17 Quarter 4 (These tables are referred to throughout this bulletin as " Quarter 4, 2016/17")

1.5 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:

National Developments are mainly large public works (for example, the regeneration of the former Ravenscraig steelworks and the redevelopment of the Dundee Waterfront) and are identified in the National Planning Framework (

National Developments are not included in the planning performance statistics analysed in this publication.

1.6 Calculation of decision times

The average decision time in weeks is calculated in days from the date of validation [6] 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 five 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.

For further explanation of planning performance methodology please refer to Planning Performance Technical Notes.

1.7 Stopping the clock

For the year 2016/17, 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 1,170 applications decided during 2016/17 (3.4% of all applications) where the clock had been stopped at some point in the application process, compared to 1,402 (3.8% of all applications) in the previous year.

Stopping the clock will have an effect on overall average decision times for both local and major applications.

Further details for applications that have had the clock stopped can be found in Annex 14.1.

1.8 Revisions

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 2016/17 there were a total of 16 revisions made to figures for 11 local authorities. The only change to headline figures (post 3 rd August 2009) is the average decision time for all major developments in quarter 3 of 2016/17 has decreased from 34.2 weeks to 33.9 weeks.

The revisions have been listed on a separate revisions sheet in the latest quarterly publication: Planning Authority Performance Statistics 2016/17 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:



Phone: 0300 244 4000 – Central Enquiry Unit

The Scottish Government
St Andrew's House
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