Our Planning System In Action - Fit For Purpose?

Several years ago as an outsider looking in following notification of two planning applications for one site adjacent to my property was when I first became curious and ventured into the mysterious world of the Scottish Planning System. Why two applications for one development I asked myself? The local planning authority continually refused to answer this question.                                          .

Having been a Senior Engineer within the Offshore Oil and Gas industry for many a long year my impression after protracted experiences with our local planning authority was of a system in “something of a mess” [as put politely by a responder to the review] and heavily biased in favour of the developers.                                                                                                                                 

Very briefly I found: -

A local planning authority with a policy that discourages planning officers from entering into any correspondence with members of the public who have made the effort to comment on planning applications. This includes answering any queries raised and clarification of vague statements.       

Regulation that can easily be avoided by developers. The Town and Country Planning (Hierarchy of Developments) (Scotland) Regulations 2009 being the prime example.                                              Under this regulation in its present form one day a development was classed as Major by the planning authority and then by the simple manipulation of paper work into two applications the very next day it no longer fitted that criterion. With this practice having been accepted by the Scottish Government as legitimate within the current planning system then there is little doubt that this regulation “at the heart of a modernised planning system” is not fit for purpose.  Should the general public have any faith in such a system?                                                                                              

Major changes made to planning applications after the period for public consultation has expired. 

Lack of logical consistency to decisions taken on planning applications by the local planning committee.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            


Reams of “guidelines” which can be ignored by developers and planners alike.                                Including SEPA guidelines to the planning authority. What purpose does this all serve?                 

Clear unambiguous concise safety requirements from Transport Scotland on trunk road safety given to the local planning authority ignored. Why seek the advice of Transport Scotland and then ignore it when received? What purpose does this serve if their instructions on trunk road safety can be disregarded by the local planning authority? If nothing else this should have alarm bells ringing. Is this just one more loophole in the system?

Why the contribution is important

It is important to draw attention to how the planning system actually operates at the coalface

by cheng on February 05, 2016 at 12:35PM

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  • Posted by JohnColledge February 29, 2016 at 10:29

    Quotes from above: 'This includes answering any queries raised and clarification of vague statements', 'Lack of logical consistency to decisions' and 'Reams of “guidelines” which can be ignored by developers and planners alike.'

    Not only are these a failure to comply with the recommended Planning Charters, they are all recognized forms of maladministration as defined by the Scottish Government. Yet, despite SPSO claims that their aim is to improve the level of service provided by BUJs, (bodies under jurisdiction) in our experience these failings have been ignored.
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