Report criticises system

Scottish planning system slower than rest of UK

David Melhuish 1
David Melhuish (photo by Terry Murden)

Scotland’s planners are taking longer to make decisions compared to major conurbations in England, according to newly published data.

Half as many verdicts on major projects are delivered per resident in Edinburgh and Glasgow compared to Greater London or the north of England.

For the first time data taken from the Scottish planning system has been reviewed and published by GL Hearn and the Scottish Property Federation in an Annual Planning Survey.

The report, entitled A blueprint for the future of planning, reveals that decision times in both cities are not meeting targets.

Major planning decisions are taking an average of 47 weeks in Edinburgh and 39 weeks in Glasgow; over twice the target of four months.  

The figures also show a strong disparity in approval rates between the two Scottish cities. Glasgow approved 100% of major applications in the last year, well above the UK-wide average of 87%.

Conversely, Edinburgh was one of the hardest local planning authorities in the study in which to gain planning permission; with only 72% of planning applications gaining permission.

Steve McGavin, planning and development director at GL Hearn, said: “Some of the causes of lengthy decisions are due to the complex nature of applications, especially in Edinburgh and Glasgow.

“However, there are also other factors at play. At a time of reducing public sector financing there is no doubt that planning authorities are becoming more stretched.

“The industry must therefore look to itself for the answers to solve the challenges of modern-day planning and development. We must all take responsibility for driving progress and maximising the productivity of the resources at our disposal.

David Melhuish, director of the Scottish Property Federation, said: ”While speed is not everything we must be aware of the need for an efficient and effective decision making system if we are to attract and retain global capital to support local jobs and investment.

“To encourage this ‘can do’ culture, planning authorities must be resourced adequately and show strong leadership to aid investment.”

The fifth annual planning survey combines data on major planning application decisions from 74 local planning authorities and survey data from 385 developers and local authority planning officers across the country.


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