Scottish councils and other planning authorities have been told to speed up decisions on major applications by Communities Secretary Alex Neil, MSP.
The latest Annual Report of Planning Performance showed that in 2013-14 there was an overall reduction in decision times – but that there are ‘still challenges in processing major applications’.
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.
“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.”
Meanwhile, Scottish Natural Heritage – a statutory consultee in many energy-related developments – has claimed that its engagement in the planning system is delivering benefits for people and nature.
SNH sought feedback on its performance from stakeholders, which found that SNH’s collaborative approach with stakeholders and other agencies’ is welcomed’ and that planners and developers are ‘particularly positive’ about SNH’s advice and guidance.