Looking at the DPEA website the other day I noticed that the applicants in 7 of the 10 cases on the recent decisions’ first page had been advised that the DPEA had no remit and the application should have gone to the Local Review Board (LRB).
The correct body should have been clear from the decision letter but it does appear that there is confusion, even among some professional advisers.
Two questions came to mind initially, and then another four.
The first was would those applicants have sufficient time to lodge a valid LRB application?
The second related to the current Scottish Government consultation: would the proposals remove the apparent confusion?
The proposals consider there is scope for major applications to be determined by delegated powers, resulting in an increase in the cases going to an LRB rather than to DPEA. The proposal includes training for elected members sitting on an LRB (potentially with tests after training) and the introduction of a fee.
It is intended to fund the process more effectively and to make decisions more local but there is no indication of the type of decision that may be suitable.
The third? Do local authority planners, developers, consultants, landowners consider the proposals are likely to result in an improvement to the current process?
The fourth is how can the confusion (which adds to costs and perhaps results in lost development) be removed, or at least reduced?
Fifth question- does the decision letter always give the correct information? We have seen a few examples where that has not been the case. The sixth and final question relates to deemed refusal appeals.
These can turn on the number of representations or objections to an application and although the rough guide is five, schemes of delegation vary across the country.
Would a country-wide standard help to minimise the confusion?