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20/02/15 10:44

Progress on planning performance

Annual report highlights improvements and way ahead on payday lending.

Planning authorities need to continue to speed up decisions on major applications according to Communities Secretary Alex Neil.

The Annual Report of Planning Performance, published today, showed that in 2013-14 there was an overall reduction in decision times but that there are still challenges in processing major applications.

Mr Neil said: “Effective planning is crucial to promoting sustainable economic growth and my overall focus is speeding up the planning system.

“The Annual Report demonstrates an ‘open for business’ approach, with a strong focus on project management and pre-application discussions to engage with applicants early in the process. I am also pleased to see increasing collaboration across authorities to share best practice.

“There is an encouraging overall reduction in decision making timescales, yet performance is extremely variable across development types and across the country. The average decision time for major developments in 2013/14 was as low as seven weeks in one authority, but there were still a number of long running, unresolved applications slowing performance. These types of cases must be reduced so that effort and resource can focus on dealing applications that will contribute to a strong economy. I expect to see sustained improvements.”

The Scottish Government also today published its analysis of the consultation responses on Planning Controls, Pay Day Lending and Betting Offices.

Mr Neil continued: “Scottish Planning Policy now includes policy to support local planning decisions relating to over proliferation of activities like payday lending and betting offices. However, respondents to our consultation highlighted practical implications and limitations in trying to use the planning system to control the availability of these sorts of services.

“Since we consulted, the Smith Commission recommended that the Scottish Parliament have powers to prevent the proliferation of payday lending and fixed odds betting terminals and we are pursuing those aims.

“In light of these views and developments, the Scottish Government does not intend to make any changes to planning legislation in respect of betting offices and pay day lending at this time.”

Notes to editors

Annual Report on Planning Performance 2013-14 http://www.gov.scot/Topics/Built-Environment/planning/Roles/Scottish-Government/Service-Improvement

Analysis report on Planning Controls, Pay Day Lending and Betting Offices: http://www.gov.scot/Publications/2015/02/8755