The Planning (Scotland) Bill (the 'Bill'), published at the end of 2017, outlined a number of changes to the current legislation in Scotland.
The Bill therefore contains quite far-reaching reforms both to the system of plan making and decision taking in Scotland and should be of interest to local authorities, developers and community groups with an interest in development.
However, many of the measures proposed in the Bill lack detail and will require further regulations to be made before they take effect.
Local Place Plans
Local Place Plans ('LPPs') are similar to the Neighbourhood Plans introduced in England under the Localism Act 2011.
They will be a means by which a 'Community Body' can make proposals for the development and use of land within a specified, local area.
'Community Body' is defined as either:
(a) a community-controlled body within the definition given in section 19 of the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015; or (b) a community council established in accordance with Part 4 of the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973.
According to the Policy Memorandum, the objectives of LPPs are to be a community-led, rather than procedure-led, approach to plans that do not fall on type of community organisation to prepare; recognising different approaches appropriate for each individual area. The overarching objective is to allow the community the ability to express its view on development within their own area.
LLPs must have regard to the local development plan for the area to which the Local Place Plan relates and the National Planning Framework. Interestingly, though, the Bill details that preparations of, or amendments to, the Local Development Plans must also have regard to LPPs and it does not state which has precedence.
In relation to the proposed Infrastucture Levy ('IL'), the Bill does not yet set out who is liable, when liability arises, which developments will be liable and what amounts will be payable; although it is envisaged that these may be similar to the current Community Infrastructure Levy legislation in England and Wales, with the exceptions noted below. The provisions below are all preceded by the word 'may', so it stands to reason that these provisions may or may not be included in the final statute. There are provisions for local authorities (note: the bill details local authorities rather than planning authorities) to:
waive or discount the IL incurred in development within their area;
- collect and/or enforce payments of sums due;
- charge a financial penalty in respect of late payments; and
- can order the cessation of development until the IL and any associated penalties have been paid (it will be an offence to continue with the development if ordered to stop by the local authority).
In addition to the above, there are provisions within the Bill to:
- make it an offence to evade or reduce liability by withholding information, providing false or misleading information, obstructing the investigation of liability for IL and causing a person to do any of the aforementioned;
- defer the granting of planning permission until the IL has been paid (this is different from the Community Infrastructure Levy seen in England and Wales, which allows for the local planning authority to stop development but not withhold planning permission);
- allow for partial or full repayment of IL and/or any associated penalties with or without interest;
- establish an appeal process against decisions as to whether IL is payable and/or what the amount payable is;
- determine expenditure of IL monies and transfer to Scottish Ministers, along with regulations as to how the money ought to be spent; and
- allow the IL to run alongside and in addition to contributions required under Section 75 of the 1997 Act and Section 53 of the Road (Scotland) Act 1984 (highways agreements) - another parallel to the system in England and Wales where CIL is payable in addition to Section 106 obligations.
The introduction of Neighbourhood Plans and the Community Infrastructure Levy in England has not been without controversy or complication. Take up of CIL in England has been far from universal. The regulations governing CIL have undergone several revisions and, six years on since the primary legislation came into force, further proposals to reform CIL are currently undergoing consultation. It remains to be seen whether the proposed Infrastructure Levy will face similar teething problems in Scotland. The devil will be in the detail of the regulations that must follow in the event that the Bill is passed.