Places, people and planning: update on proposal 12

Update on actions relation to proposal 12: releasing more ‘development ready’ land.

Proposal 12: releasing more 'development ready' land

We believe Plans should take a more strategic and flexible approach to identifying land for housing. Consents could be put in place for zoned housing land through greater use of Simplified Planning Zones (SPZs) or similar powers.

Why we are making a change

We believe development planning can be used to help zone development-ready land and unlock land for development. Within these areas, development could be brought forward without the need for an application as long as it is in line with a clear and agreed scheme which sets out development parameters, design guidelines and other criteria including environmental assessment.

What we are doing

  • the Planning Bill includes provision for Simplified Development Zones, a more flexible replacement for SPZs
  • grants for SPZ pilot projects have been given to Argyll and Bute; Dumfries and Galloway; Aberdeenshire; and North Ayrshire Councils. They are exploring different uses of SPZs in a range of settings supporting innovative housing delivery including self and custom-build and mixed use commercial development: see the update from April 2019
  • research on use of Simplified Planning Zones and equivalent upfront consenting mechanisms used elsewhere in the UK and Europe has now been published
  • we have created a flowchart outlining the key stages for how a simplified development zone could be established

How we will deliver change

  • primary legislation: the Planning Bill includes provision for Simplified Development Zones (SDZs)
  • secondary legislation: detailed provisions on SDZs will be set out in regulations
  • guidance: yes
  • non-legislative action: yes

Next steps

  • the Planning Bill includes proposals for legislative change that will refresh and rebrand Simplified Planning Zones and allow them to be progressed in a wider range of circumstances
  • these changes have been designed in a way which addresses issues raised in the consultation including the need for environmental assessment, design and quality to be built into schemes, and community engagement to be incorporated
  • we have broadened the way in which the idea of establishing a zone can be progressed, including by allowing for Ministers to direct a zone to be established where it is in the national interest and both local authorities and site promoters being given scope to bring proposals for zoning forward
  • we will also make provision for discretionary charging
  • based on the pilot work and the qualities of successful places, we will bring forward guidance on the form and content of Simplified Development Zones schemes



Telephone: 0131 244 7059

Area 2-H (South)
Planning and Architecture Division
The Scottish Government
Victoria Quay

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