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Planning (Scotland) Bill: Stage 3 (Day 2)

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament on 19th June 2019.

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Photo of Andy Wightman Andy Wightman Green

I am beyond despair at this debate. We have properties in this city, in Aberdeen, in Portree—I know that there is a problem in Portree, because my mother lives there—and right across Scotland for which people have not applied for planning consent and for which they should be applying for planning consent. Nothing in my amendment 156 changes the fact that they should be applying. It merely makes it easier to identify the circumstances in which they should, and it prevents planning officers from having to stand at properties and gateways working out who is coming and going.

I have two examples of unregulated flats in this city. One was occupied by an 83-year-old woman who is the last resident in her stair. She keeps her front door open—not the main door on the road. One day a naked woman ran in, followed by a naked man. They had sex in front of her in her living room. They were followed by another naked man who ran in and shouted, “You are in the wrong flat.” That is the kind of breakdown in social order in places that people regard as home that short-term lets are causing.

In another case, a fifth-year pupil who needed to pass her English exam to get into university got no sleep because there was a bunch of what were probably rugby fans partying all night in the flat above her. She failed her exam and did not get into university. That is why I feel passionately—as do many other members—that a more effective solution is required in the planning system, in which the means already exist.

This debate has been bedevilled by misinformation. Rachael Hamilton talked about flexibility and Michelle Ballantyne about localism. Nowhere in the Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) (Scotland) Order 1997, the Planning (Scotland) Bill, or the 1997 act is any planning authority allowed to opt out of planning law. The flexibility comes in plans and policies.

I have in my hand a report from Glasgow City Council that says that an enforcement action is necessary regarding use of a “flatted dwelling” that

“is contrary to policy CDP10 (Meeting Housing Needs) and Supplementary Guidance SG11 (Meeting Housing Needs), contained within the City Development Plan, adopted in March 2018.”

Glasgow City Council has designated areas of the city—which it can call short-term let control areas if it wants—in which it has said that there shall be no short-term lets. That has been done through plans and policies. If Aberdeen, Portree or Paisley wants lots of those areas, they are free to have them. Nothing in my amendment prevents that.