Scotland’s builders are finding it harder than ever to make a start on new sites and homes out of the ground. New statistics have revealed that, at 48.5 weeks, the time taken on planning decision times for major housing applications remains more than three times the statutory period of 16 weeks.
In fact, for the period July to September in 2016/17, the time has actually slowed by a day from the previous quarter.
“With today’s figures showing no improvement, slow planning decisions, together with complications relating to conditions and developer contributions, continue to be one of the main blockers to the delivery of housing,” said HFS Director of Planning Tammy Adams said. “We know Ministers are not happy with current performance and that Scottish Government officials are looking at the root causes of the delays.
“Whilst we hope that the planning review will refocus the system and prioritise the delivery of enough new, high-quality homes to meet housing need, the truth is that we just can’t wait for that.”
The news follows a recent housing report that annual completion levels have effectively flat lined at an average of around 15,000 since 2010 – still some 40% below pre-recession levels – with a worrying drop in the total number of homes being started.
“There is an urgent need to get decisions out in good time, both on planning applications and appeals. If this doesn’t happen, the all-tenure housing crisis will only get bigger and this will be to the detriment of communities across Scotland,” warned Adams. “The Scottish Government is now consulting on increasing planning fees for major developments.
“Planning services clearly need to be properly resourced, but a fee hike will not be palatable unless there is a guarantee that performance will improve.”
PICTURE CREDIT: Amanda Slater