Ian Perry: Statistics don’t tell the real story of planning decisions
The Scottish Government has recently released statistics in relation to local authority planning decisions. I wanted to respond to subsequent comments made by house builders with regard to apparent long delays in issuing planning consents for major developments.
The reality for the vast majority of planning applications within Edinburgh is not reflected by these statistics.
The performance of the City of Edinburgh Council’s planning service is generally very good. The figure quoted on the time it takes to issue a decision on major applications is on average 120 weeks. This is heavily skewed by a small number of applications.
A decision is not issued until an applicant has entered into a required planning agreement and this can sometimes take longer than we would like due to particular economic circumstances. For example, one of the applications which contributed to the 120-week figure took more than six years for the planning agreement to be concluded, despite the council approving the development within nine months. It is much more common for major developments to be approved within six months and it is this type of performance that should be reflected in the statistics.
We acknowledge the difficult economic circumstances which we currently face and the important role of the planning service in facilitating development. We have introduced a system where a proposal for a major development will be determined in line with a timescale that has been agreed with the applicant in advance.
We have also been taking a more pragmatic approach to the financial contributions which we ask from developers and are working more effectively with stakeholders. It is hoped these new approaches to how we deal with major developments will have a real impact on their delivery.
It is not just the speed in which decisions are issued which should be the focus of the planning system. It is more important to ensure that the right type of quality development is being delivered.
• Councillor Ian Perry is convener of the planning committee.
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