Labour demands radical overhaul after 80 community groups protest planning laws

Scottish Labour has demanded a radical overhaul of the SNP’s planning bill after it was slammed by community groups and the a Scottish Parliament committee.

 

Yesterday, the Ferret revealed that over 80 community and environmental groups had written to the local government minister Kevin Stewart to demand equal treatment.

Under the current system, developers can appeal planning decisions whereas local communities cannot, a state of affairs the groups call “unfair and inequitable”.

The unequal treatment of community groups has been brought into sharp focus by battles over development across Scotland, including most recently a plan to demolish a whole spate of buildings on Leith Walk; as well as the ongoing escapade over the construction of an incinerator in South Lanarkshire, in which the Scottish Government upheld an appeal on behalf of the developers, despite widespread opposition from the community and the council. 

The the Royal Town Institute of Planning Scotland has also warned that the sector has been hit by a “crisis of resourcing”, as planning departments across Scotland have lost almost a quarter of their staff in under a decade.

Scottish Labour has pledged to bring forward amendments to the planning bill in order to equalise planning laws, with Shadow Communities secretary Monica Lennon stating that:

“Planning needs to make decisions in the public interest for the communities of today and tomorrow but it’s clear that SNP Ministers don’t share this belief.

“Industry experts say that planning is experiencing a crisis of resourcing yet the SNP has the cheek to say councils are fairly resourced. This Bill has tried to keep stakeholders onside but it is devoid of courage and imagination and needs a radical overhaul if it is to deliver for communities.

“Scottish Labour believes communities should be at the heart of the process at every stage and that’s why we will bring forward measures to strengthen the rights of communities, including equalising appeals.

“Scottish Labour has listened to communities and we are determined that Scotland’s planning system works for the many, not the few.”

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