Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Planning Bill amendment put forward to give rights of appeal to objectors

The rights of those living near to developments to be able to lodge objections to planning proposals has been resurrected by Mike Rumbles MSP ...

While serious lobbying from the construction industry and various sections of the legal profession had killed off the Executive's idea to give neighbours a right to appeal planning applications .. the idea is back on the table with an amendment to the Bill .. but we will just have to wait and see if more hard bargaining kills off Mr Rumbles proposal to hand back a measure of balance and rights to the public against planning applications which can often affect their lives and ruin their properties.

article from The Scotsman, link at :
Planning move threatens to split Executive

MIKE Rumbles, the maverick Liberal Democrat MSP, has sparked a potentially damaging split in the Scottish Executive by calling for changes to a flagship bill.

Mr Rumbles has resurrected the debate over reform of the planning system by tabling an amendment to the Planning Bill. It would provide a right of appeal to anybody affected by a proposed development.

The move will delight environmentalists but will dismay the business community, which believes such a right will ensnare developments in interminable planning rows.

However, the political impact of Mr Rumbles' amendment may go much deeper.

The coalition parties had managed to establish an uneasy peace over third-party right of appeal. The Liberal Democrats were in favour of enshrining it in the planning process but Labour ministers were against.

The Liberal Democrats were persuaded to support Labour's position in order to keep the coalition together.

Mr Rumbles' amendment will now test Liberal Democrat loyalties again, particularly as his move will be backed by the Greens, the SSP and some SNP MSPs. His only chance of success is to persuade some Liberal Democrat colleagues to support him. But if he gets enough backing to vote through his amendment, it would put the coalition under immense strain.

Mr Rumbles said yesterday: "This is Liberal Democrat policy and I am a Liberal Democrat MSP. I am furthering Liberal Democrat policy."

The MSP for West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine said he was responding to the plight of a couple in his constituency who were being threatened with a development next to their house and could not appeal against it.

Alan Mitchell, of the CBI in Scotland, said he was disappointed by the move.

A spokesman for the Scottish Executive defended ministers' decision to reject third-party right of appeal. He said: "We want people to have their say when it matters."

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Last updated: 24-Jul-06 00:58 BSTComments Add your comment
1. Tony / 1:27am 25 Jul 2006
Finally, a Lib Dem with some spine. It had looked like the Greens were the only organised party making the case for developers and communities to have equal rights. We have an appalling system at the moment. A failed application for permission can be appealed endlessly until the developers (usually) get their way. However, permission can never be appealed by those in the flight path/earshot/vicinity. Other Lib Dems should hang their heads in shame if they don't take this opportunity to promote justice and their own manifesto. After all, how often do we get Planning Bills? Report as unsuitable 2. Peter Cherbi, Edinburgh / 2:43am 25 Jul 2006
It's good to see this issue raised again, albeit as an amendment to the Planning Bill.
Having personally experienced a very biased planning process involving a development in proximity to my former home, which ultimately drove me out, I think there should have been a right of appeal to those affected by planning applications long ago.
We currently have a system of being able to raise objections to planning applications, which has proved in many cases over the years to lack transparency, and even in some cases common sense.
MSPs and the Scottish Executive know full well the extent of problems with the lack of a proper right of appeal for those who are affected by developments, because both the msps and the Executive receive high numbers of representations each year from members of the public who are trying to raise objections against planning applications affecting their properties (some msps also making representations on behalf of constituents direct to the Executive, in statistics which should perhaps be revealed under FOI).
Not only the lib dems, but ALL the political parties should support Mr Rumbles amendment and give the public a right of appeal to balance out the impact of developments on their homes and lives.

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