Act Implementation Delivering the New Planning System - Briefing
In P&I Briefing 121 we set out the provisions
of the Planning White Paper that has been enacted through Planning
(Scotland) Act 2006. This briefing confirms the main provisions
of the Act and the arrangements for implementation. In addition
it sets out progress with the Scottish Executive's wider plans
to modernise planning in Scotland and the new National Planning
Planning Act 2006
The Act seeks to achieve the Scottish Executive's
Partnership Agreement commitment to improve the planning system,
to strengthen the involvement of local communities, speed up decisions,
reflect local views better and allow quicker investment decisions.
It also introduces provisions to enable the creation of business
improvement districts in Scotland.
The main provisions include:
• Part 1 of the Act makes provisions for the
National Planning Framework (NPF). This part
enhances the role and status of the NPF to make
it a more powerful instrument for securing delivery of national
policies and programmes.
• Part 2 of the Act replaces the existing provisions
in the 1997 Act relating to development planning with the aim
of reinforcing the primacy of development plans. Plans are critical
instruments for providing clear visions of how our cities, towns
and countryside areas should evolve. They should take a long-term
view, identify sufficient land to meet the key needs of economic
growth and housing development, protect important natural resources
and historic environments, and form the core documents against
which planning applications are measured for determination.
• The Act contains provisions designed to ensure
that in the future, development plans are more relevant and kept
up-to-date; local people will be more involved in their preparation;
and that there is a more simplified process for examination and
approval. In addition, the Act requires plans to be targeted on
key spatial issues and, crucially, focused on delivery and outcomes.
• Part 3 of the Act amends selectively the existing
provisions relating to development control in Part III in the
1997 Act. The objective is to improve the operation of the development
control process (renamed development management), so that planning
applications are not unduly delayed, particularly where they relate
to straightforward developments.
• Part 4 deals with changes required to planning
control to enable better enforcement of unauthorised development,
presently covered by Part 6 of the 1997 Act.
• Part 5 streamlines certain statutory procedures
in relation to the protection of trees, while ensuring that existing
protections are maintained or in some cases, strengthened.
• Part 6 deals with provisions relating to the
correction of errors in decisions.
• Part 7 makes provisions for auditing and supporting
the performance of planning authorities.
• Part 8 makes provision for modernising various
aspects of the financial provisions currently set out in the 1997
• Part 9, Business Improvement Districts, introduces
provisions to allow local businesses to invest collectively in
improvements to the area they operate in.
The Act is to be implemented in stages and in
most cases following consultation over the detailed regulations.
The current timetable can be viewed at http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Publications/2007/03/07131521/1.
The new National Planning Framework is now in
force and there will be a consultation on the new Development
Pans in the summer of 2007. Development management will come into
force in phases during 2008 following consultation. The new enforcement
powers, fee structures and tree preservation orders will also
be implemented next year. Many of these detailed changes will
have significant staffing implications for members in planning
The Act is the legislative element of the Scottish
Executive's broader plans for the modernisation of planning. There
have been a series of workshops across Scotland aimed at promoting
The Executive has provided £2.3m for training
over a two year period. There has been a training needs survey
that will result in further training provision for staff and the
newly elected councillors. There have been some welcome developments
in new graduate training provision at several universities and
consideration will be given to distance learning provision.
We have raised with the Executive the importance
of ensuring that this funding does not displace local training
provision and the importance of maintaining the funding when the
current programme ends. We have also highlighted the need to train
all staff in planning departments, not just professional planners,
recognising the new functions in the Act.
National Planning Framework
The Executive has published a participation statement
in preparation for the new National Planning Framework. This explains
what the NPF is likely to cover including what will be regarded
as national developments. A public leaflet "Small Country
– Big Plans" has been published to raise public awareness.
A draft plan will be issued for public consultation
in the autumn. A revised draft will be published early in 2008
with parliamentary scrutiny of the final draft in spring 2008.
UNISON has been involved in regular meetings with officials as
a key stakeholder in the process.
Action for Branches
Branches should be aware that the provisions
of the Planning Act will have staffing implications for members
primarily in planning and related departments. Whilst there are
some functions that will end, these are more than compensated
for by the new roles. Planning departments are already under great
pressure and this was recognised by the Communities Committee
when the Act was considered during the legislative stages. Branches
should therefore be engaging with employers to ensure that additional
resources are made available.
Branches will also wish to contribute to UNISON
Scotland's input into the National Planning Framework. Views will
be sought at the key stages.
The Act at http://www.opsi.gov.uk/legislation/scotland/acts2006/20060017.htm
This section of the Parliament website sets out
the passage of the Bill and the helpful SPICE briefings on the
main sections of the Act.
UNISON Scotland evidence to Parliament on the
Bill and the original consultation:
The Scottish Executive planning web pages include
updates on the implementation of the Act and the National Planning
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