Research suggests new planning Act in Scotland will be costly to implement

Planning departments across Scotland may need up to £59 million over the next 10 years to undertake duties contained in the new Planning Act, it is suggested.

New research by the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) says that the Act places 49 new and unfunded duties on planning authorities and that it is estimated that this could cost between £12.2 million and £59.1 million to deliver.

It says that this new costs comes at a time when planning departments are already under severe financial pressures having lost a quarter of staff and 40% of their budgets over the last decade.

RTPI Scotland is now calling for an urgent debate on how planning departments are funded in the future.

‘This analysis shows that we need significant investment in planning services just to make sure that they comply with the law. This, combined with the fact that planning has suffered budget cuts more severely than other local government functions, means that we need an open and honest debate on how we resource planning services in the future,’ said RTPI Scotland convenor Julia Frost.

‘If we don’t give planners the time and resources to process planning applications, andproactively create plans for the future, we won’t be able to build new homes, regenerate our town centres or protect our most valuable landscapes and buildings,’ she added.

RTPI Scotland’s new research calls on the Scottish Government to consider the costs of implementing each of the new duties, to agree a resource plan when introducing them through secondary legislation or guidance and to be clear about where funding will come from to support communities to prepare Local Place Plans.

The research also calls on local authorities to ensure that any revenue generated from processing planning applications is reinvested in the planning service.

The analysis has also been highlighted in RTPI Scotland’s submission to the Scottish Parliament’s inquiry into the future sustainability of local government.