February 23, 2011
Planning has to be more local
The changes to the planning system in 2006 were described at the time as being the most radical for a generation, giving communities much wider and earlier access to the planning process. Think tank Reform Scotland has published a new paper suggesting that the 2006 Act was only a small step in the right direction and that a much more ambitious set of powers should be extended to communities which would cover both the planning system and control over local housing
Despite The 2006 Planning Act, there are still some fundamental problems within the planning system. This is particularly evident in the housing market where, despite the recent downturn, the general trend over recent decades has been one of rapidly rising house prices with the average house price in Scotland going from £69,312 in 1999 to £174,433 in 2009. This has made housing far less affordable, particularly to those on low incomes and first time buyers, has had a destabilising effect on the economy and has diverted resources away from other parts of the economy. Although a number of factors have contributed to the rise in house prices, one of those factors is the limitation in the supply of land for housing which is an indication that the planning system is not responding adequately to demand signals in the economy.
Our proposals would make the planning and housing systems in Scotland more responsive to the needs and wishes of people living here. The 2006 Planning Act was a step in the right direction since it increased the opportunity for people to become involved in the planning process from an early stage. However, we need to go further and give local communities and people much greater control over their housing as well as how their parts of Scotland develop. This is the best way to ensure that we meet our future housing needs, allow the economy to develop in a sustainable way and preserve the environment of Scotland.