'Unacceptable' hold up

New housing delayed by four months despite fewer plans

Housebuilding plan

Housebuilding applications have fallen, but so have approvals

Major housing developments are taking four months longer to get through planning departments even though the number of applications has fallen by nearly half.

Trade body Homes for Scotland described the 17 week increase in the average decision time for major housing development to 54 weeks as “unacceptable” and blamed a failure to adequately resource planning departments.

The figure represents a 40% rise on the previous year and is more than three times the statutory requirement of 16 weeks.  Decision times were quickest for business and industry at 22.4 weeks.

HFS director of planning Tammy Swift-Adams said: “It was to be expected that the processing of planning applications would be affected by Covid-19.

“But the scale of change in relation to major housing applications is difficult to understand, particularly given the 40% drop in the actual number of applications in the corresponding period and the fact that figures for business and industry have improved.

“Such delays only exacerbate existing supply problems and do not bode well for new affordable housing targets.”

Homes for Scotland’s concern comes after the Scottish government pledged to build more homes.

“It is unacceptable that any applications take more than a year,” said Ms Swift-Adams.  “Only last week, the Directorate of Planning and Environmental Appeals reported that it had avoided accumulating any backlog in case work despite the pandemic.

“It is disappointing local authorities were not able to adjust business practices as quickly or effectively and highlights the need for planning services to be better resourced.”

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