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Committee supports linking planning fees to performance

The Economy, Energy and Tourism Committee has this week backed plans to link planning fees to the performance of planning authorities as part of the Regulatory Reform (Scotland) Bill.

A summary of the main points raised and recommendations made related to planning are listed below:

Section 7: Power to modify list of regulators

  • Confirmation that planning authorities will not be included in the list of regulators covered by Parts 1 and 2 of the Bill.

Section 41: Planning authorities’ functions: charges and fees

Section 41 of the Bill enables Scottish Ministers to make provision in planning fee regulations for different fees to be levied by different planning authorities where Scottish Ministers are satisfied that the performance of the planning authority is not, or has not been, carried out satisfactorily.

Measuring performance

  • Commitment from the Planning Minster to consider including a definition of satisfactory performance in guidance or in a future statutory instrument which will provide clarity for planning authorities and stakeholders.

 

  • Performance measures will include qualitative measures as well as quantitative measures.

 

  • Committee recommendation: The Scottish Government should clarify what measures it will undertake to improve the performance of agencies accountable to the Scottish Government, to avoid any undue delays in the planning process.

 

Linking fees to performance – resource implications

 

  • Committee recommendation: Audit Scotland should undertake an analysis on the cost of processing planning applications for planning authorities to gain an understanding of the impact of a lack of current resources on performance and to assist in measuring unsatisfactory performance.

 

Impact on performance/ impact on services

 

  • Committee recommendation: The Scottish Government should monitor performance and report back to the Committee a year after policy implementation.

 

  • Committee recommendation: The Scottish Government should continue to work with COSLA to resolve issues related to the use of agreed performance markers as the basis of reducing planning authority fees, and report back to the Committee, preferably before the conclusion of the Bill’s parliamentary passage.

 

Alternative approaches to improving performance

 

  • Committee recommendation: Clarity is sought on the type of measures that the Scottish Government will undertake to assist in improving the performance of a planning authority before resources are removed, and in cases where fees are reduced, the proposed level and duration of any reduction.

 

A copy of the full Stage 1 report is available at:

http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/S4_EconomyEnergyandTourismCommittee/Reports/eer-13-11w.pdf

 

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