Planning performance statistics: Uses of the information

The planning performance statistics provide information on the number of planning applications received, types of decision and the time taken, local review bodies, and enforcement activity.

This document is part of a collection

This page accompanies the Planning Performance Statistics publications and provides information on how the statistics are used. 

Scottish Government Planning and Architecture Division

It is important that planning applications are handled and determined efficiently to support certainty and confidence in the planning system. The planning application statistics provide information on the number of planning applications determined by planning authorities (includes types of application, the average time taken to determine applications, number of applications approved and enforcement activity) and for local review bodies and Scottish ministers. The statutory two month target for deciding local applications are also reported.

The key objective of the planning statistics is to allow Scottish Government and planning authorities to monitor the performance of planning system with regards to the volume of applications submitted and timeliness of deciding those applications.

These statistics form part of the wider planning performance framework. Planning application statistics are not the sole indicator of how the planning system or authorities are performing. Planning applications can be complex and require specialist input, therefore timescales can be affected by a number of factors and it is important to note that delays are not just the responsibility of the authority. Authorities are also encouraged to work with applicants in order to make applications acceptable in planning terms rather than just refusing them at the outset, which can sometimes extend determination timescales.

Everyone involved in planning has a role to play in the effective delivery of the planning service. The Planning Performance Framework offers a balanced measurement of the overall quality of each planning service and is used to promote continuous improvement. The framework captures key elements of a high-performing planning service and comprises a mix of qualitative and quantitative performance measures which show the variety of work that takes place in authorities, their cross-cutting role and the places that are created through planning and decision-making. 

Specific data on mineral applications are used to inform discussion with mineral operators or respond to mineral-related queries.

Planning authorities

Planning authorities use the statistics in Planning Performance Framework reports which they submit to Scottish Government Planning and Architecture Division (as detailed above). Authorities can also use the statistics to benchmark their performance against the Scotland totals and other authorities.

Scottish Government eDevelopment

The eDevelopment service is a single, national portal that enables the submission of planning and building standards applications and appeals online. Launched in 2016, the eDevelopment service was launched to modernise and digitise the previous paper-based application process. 

It has been developed and operated by the Scottish Government in partnership with all Scottish local and planning authorities. Today, it is an essential element of the delivery of online statutory services in planning and building standards in Scotland. 

Since the launch of the eDevelopment service in 2016, the Scottish Government has collected statistical data from the ePlanning and eBuilding Standards (BStds) services to monitor the performance of the services and to inform decision-making on both the services, and in relation to planning and BStds in Scotland. We monitor a set of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) which includes a number of key data sets supplied by our local and planning authority partners. In terms of this note, only planning figures have been considered.

In 2021, we started to collect additional information on a number of parameters from our authority partners to assist in this. These included:

  • the total number of planning applications submitted to authorities
  • the number of those that were considered to be ‘valid’ at the time of submission
  • the number of ‘valid’ applications received and decided upon by authorities

We ask for the data from each planning authority with each Planning Application Statistics (PAS) survey so that we can build up a time series of data to monitor change over time. This statistical data has been submitted and analysed over the last two years and is broken down by authority. It includes figures for the following key forms:

  • Planning Permissions and Householder Applications
  • Listed Building Consents
  • Conservation Area Consents
  • Advertisement Consents
  • Tree Works applications
  • Prior Notification and Prior Approval applications 
  • Certificates of Lawfulness (Existing and Proposed Uses)

This data is analysed and used to:

  • determine the total number of planning applications submitted in Scotland and gauge the proportion of those that proceed to determination. This includes applications made through the Scottish Government’s ePlanning service and those made directly to planning authorities by email or as paper submissions
  • determine the proportion of key application forms submitted online via the eDevelopment service
  • monitor the proportion of applications that are considered ‘valid’ for determination at the time of submission on both a national level, local authority level, and by application type. This has helped to monitor trends and identify application forms where this is a significant issue, and to identify opportunities to improve this with the development of a future Apply service (formerly Smart Applications). It is expected that this Apply service will replace eDevelopment
  • set a baseline for monitoring improvements and setting KPIs to monitor the performance of the future Apply service is developed and ready for launch
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