The housebuilding industry has opposed plans by the Scottish government to raise the maximum fee level for planning applications to £125,000 because there is no proposal to ring-fence the additional income and no mechanism to guarantee that the performance of the planning system improves, ensuring that the supply of much needed new homes increases in the process.
With Scotland currently seeing its best residential market since 2008, fuelled primarily by strong investor demand, significantly more new homes are urgently needed to stop house prices spiralling out of control north of the border.
But a major rise in housebuilding levels is unlikely to happen under the existing planning system, according to Tammy Adams, director of planning at industry body Homes for Scotland.
Adams said: “We do not object to the principle of reviewing and increasing fees but in recent months the average decision time for major housing applications has been 48.5 weeks – more than three times the statutory period of 16 weeks. This is disastrously slow and does not include the likes of negotiating Section 75 Agreements or road construction consents.
“The slowness of Scotland’s planning system works against the common goal of all those who want to increase the delivery of much-needed new homes. Indeed, our members tell us it has never been harder to get homes out of the ground.
“As no evidence has been provided to suggest the planning fee is the root cause of poor performance, or that the increase now proposed will guarantee a material improvement to applicants, we cannot support the measures currently being put forward.
“Homes for Scotland is ready and willing to engage positively with the Scottish Government and other stakeholders on how a stronger and more supportable package of measures can be put together to improve planning performance and justify a review of planning fees. We will therefore be requesting a meeting with officials and Ministers as soon as this consultation closes.”