One in three appeals result in Scottish local planning decisions being overturned

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More than one in three planning appeals in Scotland result in locally-made decisions being overturned by the Scottish Government, new figures show.

Over the past five years, 367 local planning decisions were reversed on appeal – 36 per cent of all appeal cases – and in one year, 2015/15, nearly half were overturned.

The Conservatives accused the SNP of “betraying” local decision and “snatching power” from local authorities.

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In 2016, controversial plans to demolish a popular Edinburgh restaurant were granted on appeal despite a unanimous decision by the council’s planning committee against the move.

More than 7,000 people had signed a petition in a bid to reprieve Earthy at Canonmills Bridge and the unanimous vote by councillors followed a lengthy community campaign.

But the Scottish Government granted an appeal by landowner Glovart Holdings Ltd, giving the company permission to bulldoze the low-rise buildings and push on with a new development involving two restaurants, three flats and six townhouses.

The decision prompted Malcolm Chisholm, who was then the Labour MSP for Edinburgh Northern and Leith, to call for developers to lose their right to appeal over any planning proposal which had been unanimously rejected.

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The figures show that in 2015/16, 106 out of 219 appeals were successful; in 2016/17 it was 71 out of 173; in 2017/18, 69 out of 180; in 2018/19, 64 out 164; and in 2019/20, 57 out of 158.

Earthy at Canonmills was demolished despite a unanimous decision by councillorsEarthy at Canonmills was demolished despite a unanimous decision by councillors
Earthy at Canonmills was demolished despite a unanimous decision by councillors

The Scottish Conservatives said their leader Douglas Ross had unveiled a policy in November to guarantee in law that planning decisions would not be overturned and that decisions made at a local authority level would be respected.

Tory communities and local government spokeswoman Annie Wells said: “The SNP continue to take the attitude that they know better than local communities when it comes to vital planning decisions. That has routinely been the case over the SNP’s 13 years in charge. They don’t want to listen to local authorities and residents but instead want to grab power from them. Last year they confirmed this by rejecting almost four in ten decisions made at a local level.

“By contrast, the Scottish Conservatives would guarantee in law that local decisions could never be overturned in Holyrood in order to respect the wishes of local people who want to rebuild their communities.”

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