The Institute agrees with the views expressed in the Ministerial Forward, in particular "The issues are not straight forward; indeed they are extremely complex". Taking this into account we welcome the comprehensive wide-ranging nature of the consultation. Our particular interest relates to transport and the supply chain and recognition that developments in these areas often have an impact well beyond their area of implementation.
Our responses earlier this year to the consultation paper by Sandra White MSP is appended. This sets out our general views on the potential for third party rights of appeal and we have built on this in our response to this consultation. Our comments are restricted to those questions which relate to our professional interests.
Q1. Arguments made previously.
The main factors for and against third party rights of appeal are covered. It would be beneficial in addition to highlight the resource implications which would arise from extension of appeal mechanisms in the context of the availability of competent professionals in the planning field and other related disciplines. The potential for adverse implications arising from the transfer of such professionals from other areas of activity should be considered.
Q2. Are views supporting third party right of appeal accurately reflected?
They appear to be, although with 35% of appeals by applicants against current refusals successful, the statement in para. 3/4 that "There could therefore be no assumption that new rights of appeal would lead to significant numbers of planning decisions being overturned" is open to question. The additional workload relates to the complexity involved and a greater proportion of large complex proposals would probably be appealed by third parties.
Q3. Categories related to rights of appeal.
Our professional interests relate to the larger or potentially more contentious cases. Our objections to extending rights of appeal are least in respect of category 4 relating to environmental impact assessments. In our earlier response, as appended we referred to the need for cost benefit appraisal methods to consider third party impacts which would ideally result in those benefiting from an initiative compensating those who are adversely affected. This applied in particular to environmental effects and action should be taken to ensure that the necessary equity, accessibility and intrusion audits are carried out and always given due consideration if there are not to be third party rights of appeal.
Q.4,5,6. Planning decisions to be subject to appeal and third parties eligible to appeal.
Providing there are sufficient safeguards in the appraisal and decision making processes as we have outlined we do not feel that third party rights of appeal are necessary. The emphasis should be on meaningful consultation as part of the planning process rather than an appeal process added as an extra.
Q7. Increased planning service workload.
As previously indicated the shortage of professionals could result in inadequate servicing of appeals, with scope for poor decision making, delays and/or transfer of staff from other activities with subsequent adverse effects for those activities.
Q8. Planning career implications.
Increased emphasis on appeals could result in more emphasis on reducing them to the detriment of pro-active consideration of planning initiatives having the potential for wider community benefit. Planners and decision makers could become more defensive and less innovative with greater emphasis on administration and judicial matters rather than the actual developments. This is unlikely to be attractive for prospective planners.
The remaining questions relate more specifically to detailed aspects of the planning process and the Institute does not wish to submit comments on these. It is hoped that the views which we have expressed will be of assistance.
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