Scotland unveils major planning changes

Scotland has unveiled major changes for the country’s planning system, with a set of proposals to revamp and boost the building sector.

The government’s proposals, which will form the basis of a planning bill this year, build on recommendations of an independent review carried out by a panel of experts last year. Key changes include zoning more land for housing, promoting self-build and removing the need to apply for planning permission for more types of development.

“Planning affects everyone’s lives, from making sure we have the right types of homes to driving forward regeneration,” says Planning Minister Kevin Stewart. “We need a strong and efficient system to support these aims and for long-term economic growth. I believe these proposals will mean we are better placed to make high quality development happen sooner and in the right places.”

He announced the proposals while visiting the Pennywell development in Edinburgh, which will deliver 719 new energy efficient homes for the area with 356 properties for affordable rent and 363 for private sale and has been a catalyst for wider regeneration.

The proposals are now open to consultation to seek views on new rights for communities to produce their own plans for their local area.

“I firmly believe that Scotland’s planners can lead the delivery of great places, empower communities and provide a stable environment for investment through the uncertain times we live in,” adds Stewart. “I would encourage everyone with an interest in planning – developers and businesses, professionals and local authorities, communities and members of the public – to tell us what they think of our proposals for change.”

The consultation is open until 4th April 2017. You can read the full consultation document here.

Confidence climbs as Glasgow continues construction surge

14th June 2016

Confidence is climbing in Glasgow’s residential housing market, as the city continues to enjoy a surge in construction.

The mood is positive among both developers and consumers, with activity still “very active”, according to Savills’ latest research. The city of Glasgow has witnessed a “particularly strong” growth in development, with the number of private sector starts in the year to September 2015 more than double the previous year at 645. Similarly, the number of completions increased by 137 per cent annually to 944.

“The discord between completions and starts within the city of Glasgow reflects the role of large developments such as the Commonwealth Village, which has provided much needed and well received new supply for the city,” notes the report. “However, the majority of these sites have now been fully developed, and going forward the city will need to maintain new housing supply.”

The majority of local authorities surrounding Glasgow have also witnessed “reasonable” growth in both starts and completions, yet remain below peak levels of development. East Dunbartonshire and East Renfrewshire are the exceptions, where in the year to September 2015 starts exceeded peak by 39 per cent and 169 per cent respectively. Within East Dunbartonshire, both starts and completions have reduced year on year.

The research arrives after official figures from the first quarter of 2016 hailed a sharp rise in supply of new homes across the country.

The number of affordable homes delivered by the end of December 2015 rose by 19 per cent on the previous year, surpassing the government’s 30,000 affordable homes target. 31,034 homes were deliveered in total, including almost 21,000 for social rent, of which almost 5,500 were council homes.

Overall, the number of private sector homes started in the year to end September 2015 jumped to more than 13,300, a rise of 10 per cent on the previous year. Across all house types, over 16,000 new homes were completed in the year to September 2015, a 4 per cent rise on the previous year.

The homes completed in Scotland in the year ending September 2015 equates to a rate of 30 homes per 10,000 people in Scotland, compared to 25 in England, 21 in Wales, and 28 in Northern Ireland.

Housing Minister Margaret Burgess attribued to the rise to the government’s increased investment in house building.

Indeed, in February 2016, the government announced a new £50 million infrastructure fund to speed up construction of thousands of new affordable and private homes.

The flexible grant and loan fund is designed to help unlock strategic housing sites of importance to local authorities to increase the scale of housing delivery. The fund forms part of a package of measures to support the increase in supply of homes across all tenures. Key to this overall approach is the Scottish government’s five year commitment to deliver at least 50,000 affordable homes, 70 per cent for social rent, backed by investment of over £3 billion.