Blog from Paul Curran: Hitting the ground running - From my first policy board to an increase in Scottish Planning Fees

13 Dec 2016

This week not only marks my first time heading up the SPF policy board, but also a significant announcement from the Scottish Government on planning fees.


The Scottish Government’s announcement of a consultation in relation to fees and resources for major planning applications in Scotland is a major turning point for local authority planning services around the country. I welcome that the new fees are to remain competitive with like for like charges south of the border as we need to maintain our competitiveness.  However, I would like to have seen greater certainty that the additional resource released by the planning fees will be used for the purposes of improving the planning service in each local authority. 


This announcement comes at a time of weaker economic performance and restricted private finance for development in Scotland.  The move should be seen as part of a package of reforms intended to improve the planning system and in this context the additional resources must be used to deliver more appropriate development, at the right time and in the right place


Currently the development markets in Scotland are seeing low levels of activity across the country as a whole although there are some hot-spots in Edinburgh.  If we are to grow the economy, then we must kick-start more development across the commercial and residential sectors, which is where attracting global capital becomes even more relevant.


Next week all eyes turn to Holyrood as the Finance Secretary outlines the Scottish Budget.  Of particular interest to the industry could be potential announcements on LBTT, Business Rates and the future land taxation landscape.  As always, the SPF will keep members fully abreast of any issues which are likely to impact the sector.


Our overarching objective will remain convincing policy makers that we are competing for global sources of capital. It’s vital that we have the correct policy environment that attracts investment into our towns and cities. Hopefully the budget will deliver us all an early Christmas present that gives the sector the tools to grow and support the Scottish economy.