Capital planning decisions lagging behind rest of UK

Proposed Music School at the Royal High School. Picture; Ian Georgeson

Proposed Music School at the Royal High School. Picture; Ian Georgeson

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Planning decisions in Scotland’s major cities such as Edinburgh are lagging behind the rest of the UK in terms of both speed and volume, a report has claimed.

The planning system is only delivering half as many major application decisions per resident in Edinburgh – and Glasgow – compared to Greater London or the ‘Northern Powerhouse’ cities of Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds, Sheffield and Newcastle, according to the annual planning survey published by the Scottish Property Federation and GL Hearn.

Heart of Midlothian had a new stand approved for their stadium at Tynecastle. Picture; contributed

Heart of Midlothian had a new stand approved for their stadium at Tynecastle. Picture; contributed

Decision times in both Scots cities are not meeting targets, with major planning decisions taking an average of 47 weeks in Edinburgh and 39 weeks in Glasgow – over twice the target of four months.

The data was compiled from planning applications made between April 2015 and March this year.

Steve McGavin, planning and development director at GL Hearn said: “Some of the causes of lengthy decisions are due to the complex nature of applications, especially in Edinburgh and Glasgow.

“However, there are also other factors at play. At a time of reducing public sector financing there is no doubt that planning authorities are becoming more stretched.”

Council Convener Ian Perry.

Council Convener Ian Perry.

David Melhuish, director of the Scottish Property Federation, said: “While speed is not everything, we must be aware of the need for an efficient and effective decision-making system if we are to attract and retain global capital to support local jobs and investment.

“To encourage this ‘can do’ culture, planning authorities must be resourced adequately and show strong leadership to aid investment.”

Edinburgh was one of the hardest local planning authorities in the study in which to gain planning permission, with only 72 per cent of planning applications gaining permission.

Glasgow approved 100 per cent of major applications in the last year, well above the UK-wide average of 87 per cent.

City councillor Ian Perry, convener of the planning committee, said: “Edinburgh has performed better than the Scottish average for local and major planning applications since 2012.

“This is despite the volume of our work significantly increasing in the last few years.”

A spokesman for Glasgow City Council said that there were “particular complexities” that influence the speed of the planning application process.

He said: “While the application process is longer than recommended for major applications at present, the 100 per cent success rate in their approval highlights how taking the necessary time to work with the planning authority will very often prove fruitful for the applicant.

He added: “It should also be remembered that as a local authority, we are facing unprecedented financial challenges, with our resources being tested as never before.”

The planning survey was set to be launched at an event in Edinburgh today.

jane.bradley@jpress.co.uk