SPF disappointed at fall in planning decisions for major commercial schemes

18 Dec 2014

Policy area: Development, Commercial

Statistics published by the Scottish Government have revealed that in Q3 2014 there was a significant fall in the number of planning decisions made on major commercial development projects, despite a significant reduction in decision time.

The Scottish Property Federation (SPF) has expressed disappointment at the fall in major business and industry decisions at this point of the economic recovery, which saw just six projects decided in the quarter, compared to ten in Q2.

The decision time taken for these developments reduced significantly from an average of 17.9 weeks to 11 and half weeks.  Developments that hold processing agreements are not part of the calculation of average decision times. 

The SPF is also concerned to see that there was a major increase in the number of planning applications where local authorities have ‘stopped the clock’ in terms of assessing time taken to decide the application.  The number of these applications increased from 200 in the previous quarter to 253 in Q2 2014/15, a huge increase. 

Similarly the time taken to achieve legal agreements with local authorities actually increased from the previous quarter to an average of over 46 weeks.  The SPF has urged government to recognise that further improvement is desperately needed in this area and suggests that local authorities consider outsourcing more of this work.

Commenting on the statistics published today SPF Director David Melhuish said: “Major development is a long and risky process and it is important that we have the right leadership in both the private and public sector as well as robust processes within planning authorities to deliver decisions quickly, properly and effectively in order to provide certainty to investors and communities alike.  It is important that all aspects of the planning system - the private sector, public agencies and planning authorities - realise this challenge.  Otherwise, we risk losing the potential to attract major investment in our built environment across Scotland.”