Planning system ‘failing to deliver’ required number of homes



Tammy Adams
Tammy Adams

New quarterly statistics into housing development decision times show Scotland’s planning system is failing to deliver the homes Scots desperately need, according to Homes for Scotland.

Statistics published yesterday by the Scottish Government revealed that the average decision time for major housing developments, projects of 50 or more homes, was almost 18 weeks slower than the previous quarter.

The time was quicker by more than 16 weeks compared to the equivalent quarter last year.

Responding to the statistics, Homes for Scotland’s head of planning, Tammy Adams, said: “These figures show that Scotland’s planning system is becoming less well equipped to deal with applications for major housing developments, which are key to providing the thousands of homes which our growing population desperately needs.

“The delivery of these homes should be seen as a golden thread running through the planning system but, with average decision times slowing to 48.3 weeks (three times the statutory period of 16 weeks), this is simply not the case.”

The government said the average has been influenced by nine applications with a decision time of more than one year, adding that 70 per cent of the 30 major housing development applications were decided in a time that is quicker than the average.

In addition, there were fifteen major housing applications that were subject to processing agreements with six (40 per cent) of these meeting agreed timescales.

The average decision time for local housing developments was quicker by more than two weeks compared to the previous quarter, and the quickest average decision time since the start of this data collection in quarter one of 2012/13.

Excluding one pre 3rd-August 2009 legacy case there were 1,262 decisions made on local housing applications decided during quarter one of 2016/17. The average decision time for these local housing developments was 12.5 weeks, quicker by more than two weeks compared to the previous quarter (14.7 weeks) and the quickest average decision time since the start of this data collection in quarter one of 2012/13.

In addition, there were 89 local housing applications that were subject to processing agreements with 66 (74 per cent) of these meeting agreed timescales.

Tammy Adams added: “These statistics confirm the urgent need to ensure the planning system responds effectively to address Scotland’s significant housing shortfall. It must do better to support the Scottish Government’s aspiration to see a significant increase in home building to ensure housing requirements are met across the country – and enable it to meet the First Minister’s ambition of delivering 50,000 new affordable homes over the course of this Parliament.

“HFS is committed to working with the Scottish Government and other stakeholders to get to the root cause of the problem and ensure effective solutions are identified and put into practice.”