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02/04/14 09:30

Improvement in local planning decision times

An Official Statistics Publication for Scotland.

Average decision times for local developments in October-December 2013 were 10.7 weeks, 7% quicker than in the previous year.

Average decision times for major developments were 36.2 weeks, no change on the previous year.

Statistics on quarterly planning performance in Scotland have been released today by Scotland’s Chief Statistician. These statistics give information on average decision times for planning applications decided in the three-month period from October to December 2013.

During this time period, the average decision time for a local development planning application was 10.7 weeks, the same as the previous quarter (10.7 weeks) but down by almost a week on the same quarter in the previous year (11.5 weeks) The percentage of local development decisions made in under two months increased to 73.9%, up on the previous quarter (72.2%) and up on the equivalent quarter in the previous year (69.5%).

The average decision time for 80 major developments was 36.2 weeks, up from the previous quarter (34.5 weeks) but at the same level as the equivalent quarter in the previous year (36.2 weeks).

A total of 9,176 planning application decisions, including legacy cases, were made by Scotland’s planning authorities during October to December. This was a decrease of five per cent from the 9,706 applications decided in the previous quarter, but a similar level to the 9,199 applications decided in the same quarter in the previous year. Much of the decrease in applications compared to the previous quarter was due to a 14 per cent drop in the number of householder application decisions from 3,742 (July to September) to 3,211 (October to December).

Almost four out of five of the total of 9,176 application decisions were related to local applications (7,277), with the remaining applications split between major applications (89), local applications requiring an environmental impact assessment (24), other consents (1,744) and applications with processing agreements (42).

The main decision time statistics presented in this publication focus only on cases within the current planning system, post 3rd August 2009, at which point substantial changes were made to development management procedures. A total of 26 legacy pre-August 2009 cases have been removed from the decision time averages as these legacy cases can skew results and removing these gives a truer reflection of recent planning performance within the current system. Average decision times that include the pre-3rd August 2009 legacy cases are available in some of the additional web tables accompanying this release.

Applications with processing agreements are excluded from the decision time figures on the basis that they are subject to separately agreed timescales between applicants and planning authorities. During October to December there were 18 major applications decided that were subject to processing agreements (with 78% of these meeting agreed timescales), and 19 local applications decided subject to processing agreements (with 95% of these meeting agreed timescales).

There were 3,211 householder applications decided during October to December, of which 89.0% of these were decided within two months, the highest percentage over the past five quarters. The average decision time for householder applications was 7.4 weeks, which is also the lowest decision time over the past five quarters. On average, there was more than five weeks of a difference in the decision time for householder applications (7.4 weeks) compared with non-householder local development application decisions (13.2 weeks).

A total of 119 of the local and major application decisions during October to December were subject to consideration and conclusion of planning or legal agreements, for which these agreements needed to be completed before the decisions could be issued. These applications took on average of 43.7 weeks. This value is higher on average than applications not involving legal agreements, but is the lowest average planning or legal agreement decision time over the past five quarters.

The overall rate of approvals for all types of application was 94.0% in the period from October to December 2013, similar to the previous quarter (94.2%) but an increase from the comparable quarter in the previous year (92.9%).

The figures released today were produced by independent statistical staff free from any political interference, in accordance with professional standards set out in the Code of Practice for Official Statistics.

Notes to editors

The full statistical publications can be accessed at: Planning Performance Statistics 2013/14 - Quarter 3

A new Planning Performance Framework came into effect from April 2012. This gives a more rounded assessment of overall performance and service quality by planning authorities.

These statistics replace the previously published Planning Performance Statistics which measured the number of planning applications determined by Scottish Planning Authorities against the statutory timeframes.

Reporting for local applications is similar to previous statistics with percentages shown for those applications that are decided within two months. For major applications it has previously been acknowledged that a four month target was not always the best measure of performance. Therefore major applications no longer show percentages for those applications that are decided within four months. The average times taken to make decisions are shown for both local and major applications.

There have been a relatively small number of major application decisions made each quarter and so this may result in some variability in average decision times between each quarter, dependent on the circumstances and complexities of the individual applications.

In this quarter 27 Local Authorities provided information on particular delays that were outwith their control and on which it was agreed it was appropriate to stop the clock for periods of time. There were 192 applications where the clock was stopped in quarter three 2013/14 compared to 165 in the previous quarter. In earlier quarters numbers were lower. This is likely to lower some overall decision times in quarter 3 when compared to previous quarters.

A small number of revisions have been made for previous quarters due to more up to date information becoming available. Compared to previously published results this has had the following impact on the overall decision time averages: Quarter 1 2013/14 Major Developments down by 0.4 weeks. Quarter 2 2013/14 Major Developments up by 0.5 weeks, Local Developments up by 0.2 weeks.

Details of revisions can be found here: http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Topics/Statistics/Browse/Planning/Publications/revisions

More information is available at: http:/www.scotland.gov.uk/Topics/Built-Environment/planning/modernising/cc/ImprovementPlans

Official statistics are produced by professionally independent statistical staff – more information on the standards of official statistics in Scotland can be accessed at: http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Topics/Statistics/About