Publication - Statistics

Planning Performance Statistics 2020/21: Quarterly (October 2020 To March 2021)

Published: 20 Jul 2021

This report presents summary statistics on planning application decision-making timescales for October 2020 to March 2021, as well as historic data back to 2016/17. It is based on data collected from Local and Planning Authorities as part of the Planning Performance Framework (introduced in 2012).

Planning Performance Statistics 2020/21: Quarterly (October 2020 To March 2021)
3. Major Developments

3. Major Developments

Major developments include applications for developments of 50 or more homes, as well as other applications covering areas of development such as minerals, housing, business and industry, waste management, electricity generation, fish farming and other 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.

This section presents quarterly information on average timescales across all major developments, along with separate figures for the key categories of housing, business and industry and other developments. Information on other categories of major developments is reported on an annual rather than quarterly basis.

Decision times for major applications may vary greatly between applications so average figures based on a small number of applications can be volatile.

Some local authorities use processing agreements where the developer and the local authority agree on timescales for decisions. When an application is subject to a processing agreement it is not included in average decision time calculations.

Legacy cases validated before 3rd August 2009 are not included in the figures but are reported separately in Section 10. Figures for all applications including legacy cases were reported up to and including 2016/17 and are available in previous publications.

The number of applications and average decision times has been impacted on in 2020/21 by restrictions due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. Further information about the impacts is available in Section 1.2.

3.1. All Major Developments

There were 89 major development applications not subject to processing agreements in the final six months of 2020/21, one less than in the same period in 2019/20. The average decision time was 43.4 weeks, over seven weeks slower than the 35.7 weeks for the same period in the previous year.

In addition a number of applications were concluded that were subject to processing agreements, these are not included in average time calculations. In quarter three of 2020/21 there were 40 major development applications with processing agreements, 60.0% (24) of these met agreed timescales that had been set between developers and local authorities. In quarter four there were 23, 60.9% (14) meeting the agreed timescales.

In quarter three major applications with processing agreements accounted for 44.4% of all major development decisions, in quarter four they accounted for 37.1%.

There was also one major pre 3rd August 2009 legacy case concluded. Further details about legacy cases are in Section 10.

Chart 15: All Major Developments
Combined line and bar chart showing annual trends since 2016/17 in number of applications determined and average decision times for all major developments

The average decision time figures of 35.9 and 53.1 weeks for quarters three and four have been strongly influenced by a number of lengthier decision times, including 22 decision times of longer than a year – 7 in quarter three and 15 in quarter four. Two in quarter three and three in quarter four had decision times of longer than two years. The longest in quarter three taking 5.7 years and in quarter four the longest took just under ten years.

If the applications that took over two years are excluded the average decision time for quarter three would be 27.2 weeks, more than 8 weeks quicker. For quarter four the average decision time would be 36.1 weeks, a reduction of 17 weeks.

Further information on the distribution of decision times for major development applications is given in Annex A.

In quarter three 68% (34 of 50) of major development applications were decided in a time that was quicker than the quarter three average. In quarter four 62% (24 of 39) were decided in a time quicker than the average for that quarter.

Highland made most decisions on major developments in the final six months of 2020/21, 16 in total. In quarter three they determined eight major development applications, four were subject to a processing agreement. In quarter four they also determined eight, with five subject to a processing agreement.

3.2. Major Housing Developments

Major Housing developments are those with 50 or more dwellings or with a site area that is or exceeds 2 hectares where the predominant use is for housing.

There were 48 major housing developments not subject to processing agreements decided during the final six months of 2020/21, four fewer than in the same period in the previous year. The average decision time was 55.5 weeks, 15 weeks slower than the 40.5 weeks for the same period in the previous year.

In addition a number of applications were concluded that were subject to processing agreements, these are not included in average time calculations. In quarter three of 2020/21 there were 15 major housing applications with processing agreements, 66.7% (10) of these met agreed timescales set between developers and local authorities. In quarter four there were 10, 50.0% (5) meeting the agreed timescales.

Chart 16: Major Housing Developments
Combined line and bar chart showing annual trends since 2016/17 in number of applications determined and average decision times for major housing applications

Average figures based on a small number of applications can be volatile. In quarter three seven major housing applications had decision times of more than one year, the longest taking 5.7 years. The average decision time of 51.7 weeks was significantly influenced by the application with the longest decision time; the average decision time for the remaining 21 applications was 40.0 weeks, more than 11 weeks quicker. In quarter four, 11 major housing applications had decision times of more than one year, the longest taking almost 10 years. The average decision time (58.7 weeks) was significantly influenced by the application taking 9.9 years with the remaining 25 applications averaging 40.5 weeks, more than 18 weeks quicker. For further detail on the distribution of decision times for major housing see Annex A.

There was also one major housing pre 3rd August 2009 legacy case concluded. Further details about legacy cases are in Section 10.

3.3. Major Business and Industry

Business and industry developments include construction of a building or structure for any of the following: use as an office, for research and development of products or processes, for any industrial process or for use for storage or as a distribution centre.

To be classed as major the gross floor space as a result of the development must exceed 10,000 square metres or the site area must exceed 2 hectares.

Eight major business and industry developments not subject to processing agreements were decided during the final six months of 2020/21, one less than the same period in 2019/20. The average decision time of 20.6 weeks was just over four weeks quicker than the 24.9 weeks in the final six months of 2019/20. The number of major business and industry applications is very small and average decision times may be significantly influenced by decision times for a single application.

Chart 17: Major Business and Industry Developments
Combined line and bar chart showing annual trends since 2016/17 in number of applications determined and average decision times for major business and industry applications

There were no business and industry applications not subject to processing agreements in quarter 2 of 2017/18 therefore there was no average decision time.

In addition in quarter three of 2020/21 two major business and industry applications with processing agreements were determined, both met agreed timescales set between developers and local authorities. No major business and industry applications subject to processing agreements were determined in quarter four.

3.4. Major Other Developments

Other developments are developments not falling wholly within any other single class. They include but are not limited to retail, leisure and entertainment, education, healthcare, community facilities, transport interchanges, water and drainage developments and projects. This class also covers mixed use projects.

Major other developments are where the gross floor space of any building, structure or erection as a result of such development is or exceeds 5,000 square metres or the area of the site is or exceeds 2 hectares.

There were 17 major other developments not subject to processing agreements decided during the final six months of 2020/21, six fewer than in the equivalent period in the previous year. The average decision time for the final six months of 2020/21 was 34.0 weeks, more than five weeks slower than the 28.5 weeks for the same period in the previous year.

Chart 18: Major Other Developments
Combined line and bar chart showing annual trends since 2016/17 in number of applications determined and average decision times for major other developments applications

In quarter four, three of the five applications had decision times of more than a year, the longest taking 2.7 years. The quarter four average decision time of 62.0 weeks was significantly influenced by the application with the longest decision time. The average decision time for the remaining 4 applications was 42.9 weeks, more than 19 weeks quicker. Further detail on the distribution of decision times for major other developments is available in Annex A.

In addition a number of applications were concluded that were subject to processing agreements, these are not included in average time calculations. In quarter three of 2020/21 there were 17 major other developments applications with processing agreements, 47.1% (8) of these applications met agreed timescales that had been set between developers and local authorities. In quarter four there were 8, 50.0% (4) meeting the agreed timescales.


Contact

Email: Planning_Stats@gov.scot