The Planning (Scotland) Bill aims to give people a greater say in the future of their places and it aims to empower communities. However, it contains no provisions for redress for communities that feel a deep sense of unfairness in relation to planning processes that they feel favour one side over the other. What remedies will communities have if they feel that a decision is not appropriate or that the development plan has been breached? There is no tangible or specific statutory right of any kind in the bill to allow communities to challenge decisions.
Will the minister at least recognise that early engagement under the 2006 act has not worked? Communities can produce a local place plan, but how meaningful is that? Will any resources be allocated to help communities, particularly poorer communities, to achieve the production of that plan, and how will it be incorporated into the final development plan?
Will the higher fees that are proposed for faster decisions not create a hierarchy that means that richer applicants will have an advantage, given that fees have already risen in the planning system? How does that sit with a quasi-judicial system that should be open and transparent?