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Final opportunity for the Planning Bill to put people first

The Scottish Conservatives have set out their top priorities that the Planning (Scotland) Bill must address prior to becoming law.

The final stage of the Planning (Scotland) Bill is due to dominate parliamentary timetable at Holyrood this week. MSPs at Holyrood will consider stage three amendments on the bill on all three parliamentary days.

The Scottish Conservatives have tabled amendments on three key areas, which will be voted on during the final stage of the bill.

The Scottish Conservative amendments will focus on:

  • Making it easier for people to build their own homes
  • Including mediation between community and developer rather than the equal right of appeal
  • Devolving powers to local authorities to create short term let control areas so they can respond flexibly to the needs of different communities

The Scottish Conservatives will state that these key amendments will ensure that, from now on, Scottish planning laws work in the interests of people and their communities.

Graham Simpson, Scottish Conservative housing and planning spokesman said:


“All of these solutions will put people at the heart of the planning system.

“Many people would like to build their own homes but simply cannot find a plot.

“My amendments would facilitate that process and help more people build the life they’ve always dreamed of - the home they have always wanted.

“Too many people feel cut out of the planning system, which is really what has fuelled the demand for equal appeal rights.

“The Scottish Conservative solution of mediation will give communities the voice they need and ensure constructive resolution of controversial planning projects.

“The rapid growth in short-term lets has led to conflicts between the needs of communities with wider economic and tourism interests.

“The Scottish Conservative amendments in this section would give councils the powers to designate a problem area as a short term let control area.

“These amendments will give councils the flexibility that they need to respond appropriately to the concerns of their communities.”


Notes to editors:

Self-build amendments –


  • Amendment 120 requires councils to establish lists of people seeking land for self build.
  • Amendment 117 says that planning authorities would need to have regard to the list when preparing their local development plans.

A similar scheme was put in place by the Greater London Authority where public land was released for development across the authority and helped to increase housing supply across the area.   The scheme run by the GLA was imaginatively called the ‘Build Your Own London Home Register’.

The register could empower people to shape their own living spaces the way they want and contribute to vibrant and varied communities.  Facilitating this custom-build approach would empower individuals and groups and strengthen neighbourhood links and create local construction jobs.

  • Amendment 123 relates to self-build housing within the masterplan consent areas.

It provides that a masterplan consent area scheme may, under section 54B (1) (a), specify that it provides authorisation for self-build housing development.

Mediation amendments –


The Scottish Conservative amendment 146 introduces the use of mediation between communities and developers over any disputes. This amendment is part of a package to encourage community engagement in the planning system. This amendment encourages addressing the core issues that individuals/communities have against specific developments. This mechanism would allow for constructive engagement between third parties and developers early on in the planning process. This provision is a more meaningful way for communities to engage and seek resolution rather than equal rights of appeal – it allows communities to be proactive towards planning decisions and development plans rather than reactive.


146    Before section 21, insert—

<Promotion and use of mediation etc.

Promotion and use of mediation etc.

(1)       The Town and Country Planning (Scotland) Act 1997 is amended as follows.

(2)       After section 268 insert—

Promotion and use of meditation etc.

268A         Promotion and use of mediation etc.

(1)       The Scottish Ministers may issue guidance in relation to the promotion and use of mediation in relation to the following—

(a)    the preparation of local development plans and related evidence reports under Part II,

(b)   a prospective applicant’s compliance with any requirements in respect of pre-application consultation imposed under or by virtue of section 35B,

(c)    assisting in the determination of an application for planning permission,

(d)   any other matter related to planning that they consider appropriate.

(2)       Guidance under subsection (1) may include provision about—

(a)    the form of mediation that is to be used in a particular circumstance, and

(b)   the procedure to be followed in any such mediation.

(3)       Local authorities must have regard to any guidance issued under subsection (1).

(4)       Before issuing any guidance under subsection (1), the Scottish Ministers must consult—

(a)    planning authorities, and

(b)   such other persons that the Scottish Ministers consider appropriate.

(5)       The Scottish Ministers must make any guidance issued under subsection (1) publically available.

(6)       The power under subsection (1) to issue guidance includes power to—

(a)    issue guidance that varies guidance issued under that subsection, and

(b)   revoke guidance issued under that subsection.

(7)       For the purposes of this section, “mediation” includes any means of exploring, resolving or reducing disagreement between persons involving an impartial person that the Scottish Ministers consider appropriate.

(8)       The Scottish Ministers must issue guidance under subsection (1) within the period of two years beginning with the date on which the Planning (Scotland) Act 2019 received Royal Assent.”.>


Short Term Lets - background


  • There is a need to find the balance between regulation where short term lets saturate the market and cause a lack of available housing and supporting industries that provide an income for people up and down the country whilst promoting affordable tourism.
  • The Scottish Conservatives support the amendments put forward in Rachael Hamilton’s name that devolve discretion to local authorities to create short term let control areas.
  • This flexible approach is the right one, allowing local authorities that are saturated by short term lets to regulate but allows for those councils who do not have that burden to not be legally bound by regulation.
  • Our amendments give local authorities the necessary powers to address their specific issues around short term lets.
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