Rethink needed on National Planning Framework, says Scottish Property Federation
The Scottish Property Federation (SPF) has called for a rethink of the Scottish Government’s draft National Planning Framework 4 (NPF4). As Scotland’s new spatial strategy, NPF4 will be important in setting out where development can take place and what infrastructure is needed.
Responding to a consultation on the government’s proposals, the SPF called for the framework to have more ambition and for revisions that would help to harness the planning system’s potential as a platform for investment into Scotland’s built environment.
The SPF highlighted that this investment is needed now more than ever as Scotland’s economy recovers from the pandemic and responds to key challenges such as climate change, town and city centre decline, and the housing crisis.
The property industry body is concerned that a complex set of sometimes conflicting and ambivalent policies within the draft NPF4 will cause unpredictability and uncertainty in the planning process. Added to new regulatory requirements, in the form of further pre-planning assessments, this could slow the progress of much needed new developments and potentially affect the viability of building new homes and workplaces in certain areas.
The additional hurdles introduced to gaining planning permission could also exacerbate the issues already faced by local authority planning departments, which have been chronically under-resourced over the past decade. This is likely to frustrate and delay the planning service as opposed to supporting it to be an enabler of sustainable economic development.
SPF Chair Kevin Robertson commented:
‘The proposed NPF4 is attempting to be all things to all people and suffers as a result. Scotland needs a strong planning framework that will support the right development, in the right place and at the right time. However, our fear is that the draft NPF4 could limit much needed new development or redevelopment of older unsustainable buildings and will make the planning process more costly, time consuming and cumbersome for all involved.
‘It is important that the Scottish Government sets out more detail and clarity on how it will deliver against the aims of NPF4. The property industry has an important part to play in finding a solution to many of the challenges facing Scotland today, but this requires a planning system that supports it to do so. We think the current proposals miss the mark, and they urgently need to be reconsidered’.
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