The Planning etc (Scotland) Act 2006 contained the most significant changes to the planning system in 60 years. The Act was drawn up against a commitment to make the planning system more efficient and inclusive. Secondary legislation and supporting guidance brought forward since 2007 has given planning authorities scope to implement a system that reflects local circumstances.
Delivering Planning Reform (2008) set out the Scottish Government's commitment to progress planning modernisation through culture change rather than legislation. The document set out a series of commitments through which the public and private sector could progress the modernisation of the system.
An Audit Scotland review of the new development management system in 2011 acknowledged the leadership provided by the Scottish Government and the way Government Agencies were interacting with the planning system, but pointed out that despite falling numbers of applications, few authorities were performing well on timescales for deciding applications. We appreciate that the planning system should not be judged by speed of process alone: quality of service and focus on outcomes are central to the reputation of the system.
The consensus around planning modernisation has generally been maintained but the economic context in which the reforms were drawn up has changed dramatically. There is an appetite to secure further improvements. The Scottish Government is not revisiting the structure of the system or promoting change for the sake of it. Instead we will seek to build consensus on how the system can be more efficient, effective, responsive and agile to meet the challenges ahead.