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Planning performance statistics 2021/2022: Quarterly (April 2021 to September 2021)

This report presents summary statistics on planning application decision-making timescales for April to September 2021, as well as historic data back to 2017/18. It is based on data collected from Local and Planning Authorities as part of the Planning Performance Framework (introduced in 2012).

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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 11. 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 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 80 major development applications not subject to processing agreements in the first two quarters of 2021/22, two fewer than in the same period in 2020/21. The average decision time was 55.0 weeks, 16 weeks slower than the 39.0 weeks for the same period in the previous year.

The average decision time figure of 64.0 weeks for quarter one has been strongly influenced by a small number of lengthy decision times. Four decisions took more than three years. Three of these, all in the same local authority, taking longer than five years (5.7, 6.1 and 6.9 years). Excluding the three applications that took over five years gives an average decision time for the remaining 36 applications determined in quarter one of 42.2 weeks, almost 22 weeks quicker.

Three applications in quarter two had decision times of more than two years (2.3, 2.4 and 2.5 years). Excluding these three longest applications gives an average decision time of 40.1 weeks, just over six weeks quicker than the 46.3 weeks for all the applications.

In quarter one 72% (28 of 39) of major development applications not subject to a processing agreement were decided in a time that was quicker than the quarter one average. In quarter two 63% (26 of 41) were decided in a time quicker than the average for that quarter.

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

Chart 15: All Major Developments

Combined line and bar chart showing quarterly trends since 2017/18.
Trends show a slight increase in the number of major applications decided in quarter one and slight decrease in quarter two compared to the same quarters in the previous year. Average decision times continue to be higher than for quarters prior to the start of Covid-19 impacts in 2020/21 with 64.0 weeks for quarter one being the slowest quarter in the last five years.

There were also a number of applications concluded that were subject to processing agreements. These are not included in average decision time calculations. In quarter one there were 30 major development applications with processing agreements, 63.3% (19) of these met agreed timescales that had been set between developers and local authorities. In quarter two there were 16, 56.3% (9) meeting the agreed timescales. In quarter one major applications with processing agreements accounted for 43.5% of all major development decisions, in quarter two they accounted for 28.1%.

City of Edinburgh and Highland made the most decisions on major developments in the first two quarters of 2021/22, 12 each. Both determined six major development applications in each quarter. In City of Edinburgh 9 of the 12 were subject to a processing agreement, in Highland 8 were 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 31 major housing developments not subject to processing agreements decided during the first two quarters of 2021/22, two more than in the same period in the previous year. The average decision time was 73.2 weeks, more than 19 weeks slower than the 53.7 weeks for the same period in the previous year.

Average figures based on a small number of applications can be volatile. In quarter one, 2 of the 17 major housing applications not subject to a processing agreement had decision times of more than five years (5.7 and 6.1 years). The average decision time of 84.9 weeks was notably influenced by these two applications. The average decision time for the remaining 15 applications was 55.0 weeks, almost 30 weeks quicker. In quarter two, 2 of the 14 applications not subject to a processing agreement had decision times of more than two years (2.3 and 2.4 years). The average decision time of 59.1 weeks was notably influenced by these applications with the remaining 12 applications averaging 48.4 weeks, more than 10 weeks quicker. For further detail on the distribution of decision times for major housing see 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 one of 2021/22 there were 12 major housing applications with processing agreements, half (6) of these met agreed timescales set between developers and local authorities. In quarter two there were 6, one third (2) of these meeting the agreed timescales.

Chart 16: Major Housing Developments

Combined line and bar chart showing quarterly trends since 2017/18.
Trends show the number of applications decided continues to be lower than for quarters prior to the start of Covid-19 impacts in 2020/21. Average decision times continue to be higher than for quarters prior to the start of Covid-19 impacts in 2020/21 with the highest 84.9 weeks in 2021/22 quarter one.

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.

Seven major business and industry developments not subject to processing agreements were decided during the first quarters of 2021/22, matching the same period in 2020/21. The average decision time of 22.5 weeks was just over two weeks quicker than the 24.6 weeks in the first two quarters of 2020/21. 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 quarterly trends since 2017/18.
Trends show numbers of applications decided continue to be low with little variation in decision time over the last two years.

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

One major business and industry application with a processing agreement was determined in quarter one of 2021/22. It did not meet agreed timescales set between developers and local authorities.

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 26 major other developments not subject to processing agreements decided during the first two quarters of 2021/22, 10 fewer than the same period in the previous year. The average decision time for the two quarters was 46.5 weeks, almost 19 weeks slower than the 27.7 weeks for the same period in the previous year.

Average figures based on a small number of applications can be volatile. In quarter one, 1 of the 11 major other developments not subject to a processing agreement had a decision time of just under seven years. The average decision time of 58.3 weeks was significantly influenced by this application. The average decision time for the remaining 10 applications was 28.1 weeks, more than 30 weeks quicker. For further detail on the distribution of decision times for major other developments see Annex A.

Chart 18: Major Other Developments

Combined line and bar chart showing quarterly trends since 2017/18.
Trends show the number of applications decided continues to be lower than for quarters prior to the start of Covid-19 impacts in 2020/21. Average decision times continue to be higher than for quarters prior to the start of Covid-19 impacts in 2020/21 but have reduced for the last two quarters.

In addition a number of applications were concluded that were subject to processing agreements, these are not included in average time calculations. In quarter one of 2021/22 there were 9 major other developments applications with processing agreements, 77.8% (7) of these applications met agreed timescales that had been set between developers and local authorities. In quarter two there were 6, 50.0% (3) meeting the agreed timescales.

Contact

Email: planstats@gov.scot

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