Date: 29 June 2005
UNISON - broad welcome to planning proposals
UNISON, the union that represents Scotland's local council planning
staff, broadly welcomed the proposals in the government's white
paper released today.
However the union said that there may be concerns about the detailed
proposals - if they led to central government officials overruling
local democracy. In addition the union called for the resource requirements
of the white paper to be recognised and more money made available
for local councils to implement the proposed legislation.
Dave Watson, UNISON's Scottish Organiser for Policy said, "We welcome
the recognition of the central role of planning and the move to
increase meaningful public involvement in this white paper. We can
also support the National Planning Framework so long as it is a
genuine framework and not an attempt to undermine local democracy.
"But we need to look in detail at procedures proposed to determine
the categories of developments. The test is - do these procedures
allow applicants - often big business - to ride roughshod over local
democracy and alienate local people?"
"The Executive are not supporting third party right of appeal and
UNISON would agree with that approach, although we would limit applicants
appeal rights as well. Having civil servants overruling local elected
councillors is also wrong. There appears to be some recognition
of this, but only for local - not larger commercial - developments."
The summary concedes that the proposed changes will place significant
demands on planning authorities.
Dave says "Neighbour notification, more hearings, pre-application
consultation and broader public involvement all have significant
resource requirements on already stretched planning departments.
Given that local government have not benefited from significant
increases in government funding in the planned budgets, we would
urge the resources to be made available. Without them the white
paper cannot be implemented."
For Further Information please contact: Dave Watson (Scottish Organiser)
07787 558 410(m) Chris Bartter (Communications Officer) 0845 355 0845(w) 07715 583 729(m)