Planning and Architecture business plan 2018 to 2019: end year report

Planning and Architecture Division's end year report on the 2018 to 2019 business plan.


This annual report follows the in-year review of Planning and Architecture Division’s (PAD) 2018-19 business plan published in December 2018.

It summarises progress made and milestones achieved in delivering our key business priorities to support delivery of the 2018 Programme for Government. It also reviews delivery of our wider commitments for the year ending 31 March 2019 to deliver a world class planning system to support inclusive economic growth and create great places.

This review also reports on our corporate performance, management of resources and wider improvement work to achieve the Scottish Government’s 2020 Vision.

Our 2018 to 2019 priorities

  • Manage the delivery of Scottish Ministers statutory responsibilities and policies across a range of Planning and Environmental interests and the sponsorship of the Non Departmental Public Body, Architecture and Design Scotland.
  • Manage the 2018 Programme for Government commitment to improve Scotland’s planning system through a comprehensive package of reform so that it can realise its full potential.   
  • Support delivery of wider 2017 and 2018 Programme for Government commitments by providing planning and other specialist advice.
  • Manage delivery of wider Ministerial commitments relating to Planning, Place, Architecture and the Environment.

Our achievements 

In delivering Scottish Ministers statutory responsibilities we have:
  • directed Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire Strategic Development Plan Authority to continue to produce their plan. 
  • enabled 6 planning authorities to adopt their Local Development Plans: West Lothian, Stirling, East Lothian, Western Isles and Highland – Caithness and Sutherland and Dundee.
  • provided input to 10 Proposed Plans within timescales required by planning authorities: Dumfries and Galloway, Inverclyde, North Ayrshire, East Ayrshire Minerals, South Lanarkshire, Falkirk, West Dunbartonshire, Aberdeen City and Shire, Moray, Cairngorms.
  • provided input to 8 Supplementary Guidance consultations and enabled planning authorities to adopt 37 Supplementary Guidance documents.
  • helped Scottish Ministers’ to meet their statutory obligations on Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) across a range of policy areas, including on the Forestry Strategy, Forestry Felling and re-stocking and proposed marine protected areas and special protection areas, Review of National Transport Strategy.
  • planning decisions made on notification casework with statutory deadlines to uphold. includes notified applications, listed building consents and scheduled monument cases and other case types:
    • 19 out of 24 notified applications within statutory deadline.
    • 0 out of 3 Notified – Listed building applications within statutory deadline.
    • 32 out of 32 Notified application – Scheduled Monument within Statutory deadline.
  • responded to 99% of cases received through the Strategic Environmental Assessment Gateway within the statutory deadline:
    • Screening 46 out of 47 responded on time.
    • Scoping 29 out of 29 responded on time.
    • Environmental reports 25 out of 25 responded on time.
  • overseen the appointment a new Chair of Architecture and Design Scotland and commenced the process for the appointment of a new Board.

To manage delivery of the 2017 and 2018 Programme for Government commitments to improve Scotland’s planning system through a comprehensive package of reform so that it can realise its full potential:

  • We have continued to progress the programme of planning reform to build on, strengthen, and enhance the performance of the planning system, including providing advice and support as the Planning Bill progresses through stages 1 and 2 in parliament. Key developments and achievements include:
    • parliament voting 107 to 4 in favour of supporting the principle in the Bill following the Stage 1 debate on 29 May 2018.
    • Stage 2 concluded on 14 November 2018 and supporting the Minister over seven sessions of the Local Government and Communities Committee we handled 390 amendments lodged, 244 of which were agreed, 111 of those against the Government; making substantial changes to the Bill.
    • provided Committee with Purpose and Effect Notes about Scottish Government amendments to help inform the Parliament.
    • published a revised Financial Memorandum in March 2019 setting out the significantly increased costs of including stage 2 amendments.
    • we continue to engage with MSPs and stakeholders to establish a way forward which will allow us to progress the Bill through Parliament to meet our aspiration of delivering a Planning system that works for everyone.
  • We have undertaken preparatory work for engagement on Scotland’s Fourth National Planning Framework (NPF4), incorporating Scottish Planning Policy (SPP) and bringing together Scottish Government policies and strategies to form a long-term spatial plan and policy framework for Scotland. This includes:
    • preparation of an outline project plan and early development of a participation statement to guide the process and ensure a wide range of stakeholders are involved in NPF4 that incorporates SPP.
    • extensive cross-portfolio engagement with Economy Board and the Inclusive Growth Policy Forum to raise policy awareness and secure support and establish common principles.
    • facilitating workshops at the Scottish Rural Parliament in Stranraer in November 2018 and commissioning research on rural planning to inform the development of SPP. 
    • hosting an Exhibition at the SCVO’s Gathering 2019, the UK’s third largest voluntary sector event, in February 2019 inviting feedback on What could Scotland look like in 2050? Planning our Future.
    • supporting local authority initiatives to trial approaches to collaborative working in Upper Forth to help identify more effective strategic outcomes to further progress the aims of the Longannet Taskforce.
    • developing digital mapping solutions to assist the development of NPF4. 
    • contributed to the Capital Investment Steering Group to inform work exploring strategic investment sites.
    • finalised NPF3 Monitoring report ahead of launch of NPF4.
  • We have co-ordinated a wide-reaching sustainability appraisal into scope for reform, and potential expansion, of permitted development rights into a range of development types and circumstances, including: digital communications infrastructure; agricultural developments; town centre changes of use; energy storage; householder developments; supporting active travel.
  • We have taken forward work with the Digital Task Force to deliver a world-leading digital planning service. While the launch of the Digital Strategy for Scotland was postponed to allow Ministers to focus on the passage of the Planning Bill through parliament. We have:
    • facilitated 4 meetings of the Digital Task Force to inform the development of the Digital Strategy for Planning.
    • undertaken research with over 1000 users of the planning system in Scotland to build a clear picture of the opportunities arising from digital transformation.
    • developed a 12 and 24 month roadmap for the digital transformation programme.
    • delivered a range of engagement across Scottish Government policy areas to demonstrate the importance of Planning to national outcomes and help link them together.
    • engaged Planning Authorities across Scotland via 2 deep dive sessions and 3 regional co-design workshops. This has helped to validate the draft strategy proposals and gain support for the transformation programme.
    • undertaken 27 change management interviews with Planning authorities to understand appetite and capacity for change.
    • developed a draft strategic business case setting out the benefits and financial impact of digital transformation.
    • worked with Heads of IT, Heads of Planning Scotland, COSLA, Royal Town Planning Institute and other stakeholders to ensure that the strategy is aligned with expectations across their respective sectors.
  • We have supported the programme of Land Reform including modernising the use of compulsory purchase orders to regenerate communities and deliver essential infrastructure. This includes: 
  • We have expanded our support for the Place Standard and other community-led design projects to help develop places which are designed in collaboration and meet everyone's needs. This includes:
    • launching the 2018-19 Making Places Initiative in September 2018 which has provided funding for 39 design and engagement events around Scotland.
    • working in partnership with NHS Health Scotland, Architecture & Design Scotland and Glasgow City Council to develop an improvement programme for the Place Standard tool.
    • expanding the Place Standard Leads network beyond local authorities to now include national organisations.    
    • commissioning research into options for the Place Standard tool to be scaled up to inform regional and national decision-making. Commissioning research into the impact of community-led design and charrette style design events across Scotland.
  • We launched the Self-Build Challenge Fund pilots in April 2018 to help diversify how we deliver affordable new homes. Five of the seven pilots were completed by March 2019. This includes the Scotland Self and Custom Build Portal, which provides guidance to prospective self and custom builders together with a plot finder resource.
  • To support local authorities simplify the planning process and speed up delivery of housing developments we have worked on three pilots in Argyll and Bute, Dumfries and Galloway, and North Ayrshire to exploring different uses of Masterplan Consent areas.  
  • We have actively participated in the Infrastructure Investment Board and convened an Industry Delivery Group including external stakeholders to help facilitate infrastructure delivery. 
  • To restrict over-provision of payday lending and betting shops on our high streets In November 2018 we presented to Planning Convenors highlight and encourage appropriate use of powers available to local authorities and how this is supported by Scottish Planning Policy. 
  • We published a notification direction in March 2019 seeking information on non-householder planning applications that are within Historic Battlefields.  We issued this to inform our understanding of development in the planning system that has the potential to affect our designated historic battlefields.

To help support delivery of wider Programme for Government commitments by providing planning and other specialist support we have:

  • continued to support the delivery of at least 50,000 affordable new homes over the lifetime of this Parliament. This includes:
    • promoting Scottish Government policy on affordable housing through work on Development Planning.
    • supporting the expansion of new and alternative delivery models so that we can deliver high quality, professionally-managed homes.  For example, we published case studies of the featured build to rent projects to help increase understanding of a private sector that provides quality homes with a high standard of management.
  • Provided planning and environmental assessment input to the development of the 2018 consultation documents on Unconventional Oil and Gas.
  • Helped give Gypsy and Travelling Communities a stronger voice in the community.  This includes:
    • publishing a notification direction in March 2019 seeking information on planning applications for Gypsy / Traveller developments.
    • publishing a study collating data on Gypsy/Traveller sites in Scotland in March 2019. The study identified a total of 54 Gypsy/Traveller sites across Scotland, comprising 29 public and 25 private sites.
    • promoting Scottish Government policy on Gypsy/Travelling Communities through work on Development Plans.
  • Supported the Year of Young People to help improve the life experience and life chances of our young people.  This includes:
    • supporting Scotland’s participation in the Venice Biennale which was launched in May 2018 and the opening of the Happenstance exhibition in August 2018.
    • supporting PAS Young Placemakers programme to encourage young people to engage with the decisions which help shape Scotland’s future places.
    • supporting PAS Bridging the Gap programme to equip young people with the skills and tools of how to engage with placemaking and learn more about decision making.
  • Laid the Ninth Annual Report on the Operation of Section 72 of the Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009 before the Scottish Parliament on 11 March 2019.
  • Explored how Planning can support healthier and more active lifestyles  and help people live longer. This includes:
    • providing advice to Ministers on food outlets in the vicinity of schools
    • publishing research on the relationship between the food environment and the planning system. 
  • Supported the transport sector to ensure transport plays its part in creating a sustainable economy.
  • Worked with Marine Scotland to promote the strong and positive contribution that fisheries makes to the social and economic fabric of Scotland’s coastal communities and support to the Scottish aquaculture industry.
  • In Aquaculture progress is being made around innovation, disease management and climate change through our membership of the Aquaculture industry Leaders Group. We have collaborated on a new technical framework for planning advice to enable sustainable aquaculture.

To manage delivery of wider Ministerial commitments:

  • We have continued to offer high quality and innovative front line digital public service through the provision of the eDevelopment portal:
    • over 59,000 ePlanning submissions and 141,000 eBuilding Standards were made via the portal in 2018-19. 
    • over 38,000 customers are now registered on the eDevelopment service.
    • 461,661 submissions have been made through the eDevelopment service since the new portal was launched in 2016. 
    • we estimate that the ePlanning portal contributed up to £83m in savings for applicants and Planning authorities since we launched the original service in 2010.
    • we estimate that the eBuilding Standards portal contributed up to £21m in savings for applicants and Scottish local authorities since launch in 2016.
    • in May 2018 we released a development package known as Development E to specifically address changes to Data Protection legislation including the implementation of GDPR. This implemented a process which regularly checked the status of user accounts and deleted inactive accounts and any personal information contained within.
  • We have supported more effective engagement across rural and planning sectors. This includes:
    • worked with rural colleagues to deliver a second Rural Planning Summit in September 2018, inviting views on challenges, opportunities and innovation to support Scotland’s rural economy and sustainable communities. 
    • hosted a workshop at the Scottish Rural Parliament in November 2018 inviting views on how Planning can support rural communities and business.
    • met with the Heads of Rural Planning authorities in November 2018 to discuss challenges and opportunities for rural communities and share good practice.
    • we commissioned research in early 2019 on Rural Planning Policy to 2050, to provide an evidence base to inform the future preparation of the National Planning Framework (NPF) and Scottish Planning Policy (SPP).
    • co-ordinated strategic planning with transport, enterprise and other policy areas through the inter-dependencies group. This has informed proposals in the Planning Bill.
  • We worked with Transport Scotland to develop and support a stakeholder working group in order to research and develop a co-production approach to deliver future guidance on Inclusive Design. 
  • Contributed to the work of the Infrastructure Investment Board.
  • Established an Infrastructure Delivery Group (IDG) comprising of a wide range of key stakeholder to improve communication, co-ordination and alignment between the Planning system and infrastructure delivery as part of our Infrastructure First agenda. Meetings were held in June and December 2018.
  • We progressed a programme of work with Scottish Futures Trust to support Planning reform and the links between development and infrastructure. This includes projects relating to education infrastructure, funding and finance of infrastructure, demand assessment methodologies and Activating Sites.
  • We updated the island communities impact assessment for the Planning Bill to ensure their unique circumstances are reflecting in Planning reform. We showcased excellence in Planning and Design and promoting the value of Great Places by hosting the 2018 Scottish Awards for Quality in Planning (SAQP) in November to celebrate the achievements of the Planning system in the following categories:
    • children and Young People - innovation where children and young people have made a positive impact on the planning of a place.
    • partnership - innovation in working collaboratively, at any stage, within the planning process.
    • place - innovation in any architectural building or place (built or natural)
    • plans - innovation in development planning ranging from strategic to settlements.
    • process - innovation in improving, or simplifying, any type of processes.
  • We supported the RIAS Andrew Doolan Best Building in Scotland Award & RIAS Client Award in 2018 to promote and celebrate the best standards of buildings and design in Scotland. The award was presented by Fiona Hyslop, in V&A, Dundee, which is itself shortlisted for this year’s Doolan prize.
  • We supported the Scottish Trust My Place Awards in March 2019 to celebrate buildings that positive impact in a local neighbourhood and have delivered positive benefits to that community.We supported the Saltire Society Housing Awards to celebrate and promote excellence in Scottish housing design and innovation.
  • Continued to provide core funding and oversee governance arrangements of the charity PAS. This helps them provide a unique advisory service for communities and less heard groups.
  • Worked with the Planning Performance High Level Group with COSLA throughout the year to help improve performance. This includes:
    • meeting with a range of industry representatives in August 2018 to discuss the role of the High Level Group, the membership and their priorities for improving the performance of the planning system.
    • facilitating meetings of the High Level Group on Planning Performance in December 2018 and February 2019.  Key activities included reviewing the outcome of Stage 2 of the Planning Bill and in particular the removal of the planning performance provisions and the penalty clause.  The High Level Group also worked with Homes for Scotland and the Scottish Property Federation to discuss future options for progressing performance monitoring and reporting.
  • We delivered feedback to all 34 planning authorities and 4 strategic development plan authorities on their Planning Performance Framework reports in January 2019. The reports for 2017-18 saw the highest number of green ratings awarded across the 15 key performance markers
  • We have also provided advice and input to a range of wider policies and strategies including:
  • To help us learn from  our international partners and promote the Scottish Planning system we arranged an interchange with Senior Advisor in the Ministry of the Environment in Finland.

How we work

Corporate Performance
  • FOI – 25 / 25 responses were issued on time (100 %) 
  • PQ - 52/52 responses were issued on time (100%)
  • MACCs –174/194 responses were issued on time  ( 90%).  
  • Payment Performance 418/418 were issued on time (100%)

Budget management and financial governance

Taking account of payments which will be accrued as part of the end year accounts process our total out-turn against allocated budgets will be £484k (7%) over allocated budgets. This within £18k of authorised spending limits to help manage unfunded pressures of £662k.   The overspend is set out below:
  • Total Operating Costs  -  £194k overspent  (6%).
  • programme funding to support and improve the operations of the Planning system - £267k overspent (11%).
  • sponsorship of Architecture & Design Scotland and other Architecture programmes to promote the benefit of well-designed places and the value good architecture and design adds to our lives - £21k (1%).

Our working environment

We have maintained our commitment to improving our working environment and culture and help make Planning and Architecture a Great Place to Work.  This includes:

  • Providing opportunities for and supporting the development of young people.  For example:
    • mentoring two Career Ready Young People including six week placements in the workplace
    • supporting the development of a modern apprentice through to graduation in November 2018
    • the recruitment of a further modern apprentice in December 2018.
    • supporting the development of our young people through volunteering for the Place charity, PAS
  • Moving into to our new Smarter Workplace environment in May 2018 and helping our people to manage the challenge of change through delivery of bespoke managing change team sessions and development of tailored Team Agreements   
  • Demonstrating our commitment to working flexibly to deliver wider SG priorities by:
    • representing the interests of Building Standards and Directorate for Planning and Environmental Appeals in the spending review process.
    • supporting People Directorate through assisting with their recruitment campaigns, conducting investigations and chairing panels.
  • Demonstrating our commitment to Equality and Diversity by: 
    • ensuring all our people have meaningful diversity objectives. 
    • providing additional support to colleagues with disabilities who would otherwise be unable to travel to work.

Business management and administrative support

The Division continues to acknowledge the added value of business management service in our Business Team in our 2018-19 Customer Survey:
  • 88% were satisfied with arrangements for covering the office during the working day.
  • 97% agreed that the Business team were approachable and customer focused
  • 84% were satisfied with arrangements for administrative support
  • 94% were satisfied with arrangements for wider business management functions
  • 88% agreed that the Business team helped them deliver their own priorities




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