Planning (Scotland) Bill (Agent of Change Principle)

– in the Scottish Parliament on 2nd May 2019.

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Photo of Lewis Macdonald Lewis Macdonald Labour

6. To ask the Scottish Government whether it will initiate cross-party discussions regarding agent of change in advance of stage 3 of the Planning (Scotland) Bill. (S5O-03175)

Photo of Kevin Stewart Kevin Stewart Scottish National Party

The Scottish Government recognises the importance of ensuring that new development does not adversely impact existing businesses, particularly music venues. I welcome the support for that view from others across the chamber.

I am happy to discuss the agent of change principle with Mr Macdonald, as I have already done with others, to make sure that we get this right for stage 3.

Photo of Lewis Macdonald Lewis Macdonald Labour

I know that the minister acknowledges that the planning system does not currently protect live music venues adequately, but I recall from discussion at the Local Government and Communities Committee that he does not wholly support the approach that the bill currently takes. What approach does the Government intend to take when the bill is considered at stage 3?

Photo of Kevin Stewart Kevin Stewart Scottish National Party

I am fully committed to the agent of change principle, as was shown by the recent circular that the chief planner issued before we even considered the bill. I have said throughout that we will look closely at the principle—particularly in developing the national planning framework 4.

I have no doubt that the provisions on culturally significant zones that were added to the bill at stage 2 were well intentioned, but they would have serious adverse consequences, which I spelled out at stage 2. They would place a range of duties and burdens on our planning authorities and the development sector, with a hefty price tag that could affect the viability of investment in development that we need and thwart our ambitions to reinvigorate our high streets.

We must get this right and strike the right balance. That is why I have been pleased to talk to a number of MSPs about how we can reshape the bill at stage 3. I am more than happy to have similar discussions with Mr Macdonald.

The Deputy Presiding Officer:

Very briefly, please, Mr Simpson.

Photo of Graham Simpson Graham Simpson Conservative

Does the minister agree that positive cross-party talks about the bill have been going on for some time and will continue? If Mr Macdonald had spoken to his colleague Mr Rowley, he would know that.

Photo of Kevin Stewart Kevin Stewart Scottish National Party

I am pleased that folks from all the parties in the Parliament have engaged with me on the issue. I am happy to talk to party representatives and to individuals who have concerns. My door is always open. We must get stage 3 of the bill right, and I am sure that we can do that together, with co-operation.