Investing in planning - resourcing Scotland's planning system: consultation

This consultation sets out a range of options which have the potential to improve the capacity of the Scottish planning system, in particular in planning authorities, in the coming years.


Every day, planning makes a difference to all of our lives. It can enable good quality development, inspire and motivate people to get involved in shaping their neighbourhoods, and protect and enhance our environment. Planners have unique skillsets. They deploy a wide range of expertise: from creativity and imagination to analysis; decision making; problem solving; communication; negotiation; and practical delivery. Planning takes patience, hard work and integrity. Planners, and all those they work with, have an unparalleled opportunity to leave a positive and lasting legacy for generations to come.

Since taking on responsibility for planning last year, I have heard a lot about the challenges of resourcing the public sector planning service. Timescales for planning decisions are not improving despite lower numbers of new applications entering the system in recent months, and the capacity of local authority planning teams has reduced over time. This adds pressure to already challenging workloads, at a time when we need our planners to seize the opportunities for investment in our places and drive forward positive change.

In the coming year I will do all I can to bring people together to find solutions, so that planning can facilitate change, rather than being perceived as a barrier to investment.

As Minister for local government empowerment, as well as planning, I will work closely with COSLA to ensure this empowers local councils to make sustainable choices about future resource. We need to address a wide range of issues which are affecting capacity and to ensure that fees are more closely related to the cost of the services being provided. I am also determined to work with planners to look ahead to the future pipeline of professionals, and to encourage more people to choose planning as a career. My Ministerial colleagues recognise the challenges for the planning system too, and are working with me to help find solutions. However, the Scottish Government cannot achieve this on its own. A determined and collective effort will be required to make a measurable difference and put our planning profession on a stronger footing so we can all respond to the challenges ahead through a ‘Team Scotland’ approach.

This is an important consultation which will directly inform how we go about improving resourcing of the planning service, in the immediate future and for years to come. I would encourage everyone with an interest in the future of our places – and their role in supporting our economy, environment and people – to share their views and consider what contribution they can make to help us deliver change.

Joe FitzPatrick MSP, Minister for Local Government Empowerment and Planning

Shona Robison, Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Finance

Planning is a key lever for delivering cross-government priorities and enabling development and infrastructure delivery. National Planning Framework 4 brings those priorities together in our plan for a fairer and greener future and local authorities are taking this forward in new plans for their areas. These plans will provide a collective vision for our future places and will help us all to deliver real change. We are committed to doing all we can to improve the capacity of planning authorities to provide a first class service and to enable investment. Given current financial challenges, and in the spirit of public service reform, now is the time to find creative solutions to resourcing challenges, including new ways of working in partnership with industry as well as communities.

Mairi Gougeon, Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs, Land Reform & the Islands

Rural and island areas need a planning system that recognises their specific and unique circumstances. We must recognise the importance of delivering housing and supporting rural business in our rural island areas, enabling us to tackle the challenges of depopulation. I hope this consultation will help us to find solutions to the specific challenges for resourcing that planning authorities in rural areas have to contend with, including higher development costs and recruitment challenges.

Màiri McAllan, Cabinet Secretary for Wellbeing Economy, Net Zero & Energy

Planning is a strong lever for ensuring we achieve net zero by 2045. National Planning Framework 4 places the climate and nature crises at the heart of our planning system and ensures that all planning decisions help us to meet our net zero ambitions. We have unprecedented opportunities for growing our wellbeing economy and to do that we need to ensure that authorities are resourced to help accelerate development and facilitate our green transition. In addition to ensuring planning processes are streamlined and efficient, it is vital that we find ways to ensure we have the right skills to support our transition. I would encourage all users of the planning system to contribute to this consultation.

Shirley Anne Somerville, Cabinet Secretary for Social Justice

Our communities need a planning system that gives a voice to everyone. Planning makes a vital contribution to delivering more warm and affordable homes, and its long-term perspective will ensure that we can accommodate the diverse needs of our changing population. This consultation is an excellent opportunity to find solutions to resourcing and capacity challenges, so that planning is better placed to help communities to shape their own places, and enables good quality development that helps to address longstanding inequalities in society.



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