Planning Applications (Scottish Ministers)

– in the Scottish Parliament on 30th September 2021.

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Photo of Miles Briggs Miles Briggs Conservative

5. To ask the First Minister what the Scottish Government’s response is to reports that, in the last year, ministers overturned almost 50 per cent of planning applications. (S6F-00319)

Photo of Nicola Sturgeon Nicola Sturgeon Scottish National Party

It is simply incorrect to say that ministers have overturned almost 50 per cent of planning applications. The vast majority of planning appeals are decided by independent reporters from the planning and environmental appeals division of the Scottish Government. It is right and proper that ministers have no involvement in cases that are delegated to reporters.

In the last financial year, 135 decisions on planning appeals were made, and planning permission was granted on 67 occasions. However, in the same period, local planning authorities decided on approximately 25,000 planning applications, and 94.5 per cent were granted planning permission. Planning approvals issued by reporters were approximately 0.3 per cent of the planning permissions granted over the course of this year in Scotland. That is my response to that claim.

Photo of Miles Briggs Miles Briggs Conservative

We know that national planning framework 4 will give ministers additional powers over local planning. Council leaders, including those from the First Minister’s own party, have voiced real concerns about the impacts of the Government’s proposals regarding the centralisation of services and further loss of local accountability and decision making. Those include concerns about alcohol and drug partnerships and children’s services being swept up in proposals for a centralised system.

I ask a very simple question of the First Minister. By the end of this session, will councils have fewer or more powers?

The First Minister:

We seem to have gone from planning applications to children’s services. We work in partnership with local authorities to make sure that we are delivering for people across the country.

Let us go back to planning applications. There is no centralisation here. As I said, in 2020-21, 25,000 planning applications were decided by local planning authorities. The vast majority of them—94.5 per cent—were granted planning permission. There were 135 decisions on planning appeals made through the arrangements in the Scottish Government, which I have set out, and Scottish ministers made the final decision on four recalled planning appeals.

The whole premise of the question is deeply flawed, which is probably why Miles Briggs chose to go on to something else after my first answer rather than stick with the subject matter of his question.

Photo of Ariane Burgess Ariane Burgess Green

The national planning framework will be published and consulted on soon. When does the Scottish Government intend to publish the national planning framework participation statement, setting out the consultation process?

The First Minister:

I am very happy to get back to the member with the date—if we have set a date—on which that will be published. I will ask the relevant minister to write to the member as soon as possible.