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Plans For On-Line Planning Dept 2006-08-25

Posted by clype in Scotland.

People across Scotland will be able to check if houses are to be built in their areas with the click of a mouse, thanks to a 12 million GBP project to put the nation’s planning system on-line, ministers announced yesterday 2006-08-24.

Following an award-winning pilot in Edinburgh, ‘The Scottish Executive’ is ‘rolling out a scheme’ to put full details of all planning applications on-line.

This will allow members of the public to make objections from ‘the comfort of their computer at home’ and to monitor any applications through the process.

The massive investment to be made over the next two years is expected to save 44 million GBP in labour and administration costs, as well as making the whole system more ‘user-friendly’.

The deputy communities minister Ms.Johann Lamont, said planning was ‘no longer off limits’ to the public, as some people believed it was now.

However, opposition politicians pointed out the planning system itself must be improved to allow people’s objections to make a difference.

The first planning website was launched three years ago in Edinburgh, which deals with about 5 500 applications each year.

There are now 23 000 people visiting the website every year. Earlier this month it was rated number one in the country for accessibility of information in a ‘Scottish Executive’ poll.

Now The deputy communities minister wants every local authority to provide websites complete with on-line user guides to the process.

‘Some local authorities in Scotland are already pioneering this approach. In most cases planning has attracted far more “hits” than other services on their sites. It is clearly popular.

‘We are now undertaking the most radical overhaul of our planning system in 60 years. We need to “sweep away” the old culture of “out-of-date plans” and a system “clogged by red tape”.’

And The deputy communities minister said a faster, more efficient planning system would affect the whole of Scotland.

‘It will enable communities to get involved from the outset in the plans that shape their areas. They can also contribute to and “track” individual applications affecting them.’

‘The Green Party’ spokesman on planning Mr.Patrick Harvie welcomed the news, but he added:

‘Giving people more information about planning is only “one part of the picture”.

‘We also need to “give” people “some power” in the system, so they don’t feel unable to influence the decisions which will affect their lives, their communities and their environment.

‘So far, “The Executive” has resisted most attempts to make “The Planning Bill” fairer for communities.’

Ms.Karen Trouten, of ‘Homes for Scotland’, the body representing private house-builders in Scotland, also said more information was needed, such as housing land audits, technical documents and committee minutes. She said:

‘This will allow us to understand the decision-making that lies behind the plans themselves.’



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