PLANNING: New measures to help improve application process

Improved planning processes … as Playdrome and Burroughs Way are sold off for housing

By Bill Heaney

Change to help improve the planning application process and the service received by applicants has been announced by Planning Minister Tom Arthur.

The fee for a new build house will increase from £401 to £600 per house for the first 10 houses from April, with the rate dropping to £450 per house for houses 11-49 and to £250 for each house over 50 up to the maximum fee of £150,000.

Following a consultation in 2019 that sought views on reviewing the planning performance and fee regime, planning fees will rise from 1 April 2022. Planning fees have an important role in ensuring applicants, rather than the taxpayer, help cover the cost of determining planning applications.

This is the first time in eight years that there has been an increase to the standard planning application fees, providing much needed additional resources to local authorities.

Local authorities will be able to decide how best to use any additional fee income to help improve locally delivered planning services.

Planning Minister Tom Arthur said:  “The planning system plays a central role in shaping the places where we live, work and access local services – and in delivering a just transition to a net zero economy.

“Ensuring planning departments are efficient and effectively resourced is vital to realising our ambitions for Scotland and supporting recovery.

“That is why reviewing planning fees and performance is a key part of our planning reform programme. This is a significant change to planning fees, which will provide substantial additional income to authorities and help to move towards fully recovering the cost of dealing with planning applications.

“I expect these increases to lead to improvements in planning performance and we will shortly progress the recruitment of Scotland’s first National Planning Improvement Co-ordinator.”

The Town and Country Planning (Fees for Applications) (Scotland) Regulations 2022 are published on the Scottish Government’s website.

The Planning Performance and Fees Consultation was published on 18 December 2019.

The number of applications fluctuates but, for illustration, in 2020/21 an extra £1.2 million would have been expected to have been raised from householder applications had these charges been applied. Income from fees paid by developers or other businesses will vary depending on the size of the development.

One of the latest planning decisions in West Dunbartonshire relates to the Playdrome site in Clydebank which is set to be sold for housing in £5.675million deal.

The prominent Council-owned site was marketed late last year after the leisure centre building was demolished.

The 8.5 acre site received six offers, all of which were for housing developments, with Miller Homes chosen as the preferred bidder.

The developer is proposing to transform the site into a 116-property development, with a mixture of three bedroom homes, including those with a frontage along the canal.

The details of the disposal were shared with members of the Council’s Infrastructure, Regeneration and Economic Development committee.

Members approved the sale and gave officers the green light to conclude negotiations with Miller Homes.
Officers will also liaise with Miller Homes throughout to ensure the design proposal is aligned with the Local Development Plan and place making ambitions including the Clydebank  Framework.

Councillors Iain McLaren, who is said to be leaving the Council in May, and Diane Docherty. Vice Convener of Infrastructure, Regeneration and Economic Development.

Councillor Iain McLaren, Convener of Infrastructure, Regeneration and Economic Development, who is said to be quitting the Council come the May elections,  said: “I am pleased to see that this extensive site in Clydebank Town Centre will be put to good use once more.

“This will have a positive impact on the town centre and fits in with the work the council is doing to regenerate Clydebank, including our recently agreed Clydebank Framework.”

Members at the meeting also approved the sale of a site at Burroughs Way in the Vale of Leven Industrial Estate at a price of £1million.

The successful bidder – CW properties Bruce Weir Holdings – intend to develop the site for mixed industrial usage for other organisations.

Councillor Diane Docherty, Vice Convener of Infrastructure, Regeneration and Economic Development said: “The proposed development will develop an area of land, which is currently unused and will provide a supply of much needed industrial and warehouse accommodation to the area.

“The development of this site for industrial/warehouse use will generate local employment opportunities as well as generating income for the Council in the form of business rates.”

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