Planning (Scotland) Bill

The Planning (Scotland) Bill was introduced to Parliament on 4 December 2017. The Bill sets out the Scottish Governments proposed high level changes to the overall framework under which planning operates. As part of the Parliamentary scrutiny of the Bill, BEFS has responded to both the latest call for evidence published by the Local Government and Communities Committee, as well to the Finance and Constitution Committee’s call in relation to the associated Financial Memorandum. Read BEFS submissions and those of its Members in Resources here.

As the Bill stands, much is left to secondary legislation – which makes it difficult to critically assess the true scope and depth of the changes being envisioned. BEFS has flagged up the inherent tension in seeking to balance greater community participation with the planning system while speeding up and simplifying decision-making processes.

UPDATE June 2019:-

The final vote on the Planning (Scotland) Bill took place on 20th June 2019 after 3 days of vigorous debate. The Bill passed 78:26, supported by the SNP and Conservative MSPs, with Labour, Liberal and Green Party members voting against. All Amendments, with the decisions made in each case, can be found in the document, here.

Prior to the debates BEFS had issued a Stage 3 briefing for MSPs, based on previous work by the Planning Taskforce and comments in relation to refreshed and new topics of interest to the Membership.

November 2018:-

The Planning Bill has now completed Stage 2 – we await formal notification of when Stage 3 will commence, but no movement is likely before 2019. BEFS briefed members of the Local Government and Communities Committee for each sitting in relation to the Bill. These briefings were informed by those on the BEFS Planning Taskforce.

BEFS has now produced a summary document of those briefings, and the outcomes in relation to the specific amendments which had been commented upon previously.

Throughout the Bill process BEFS compiled a document of all the amendments as they were submitted. This helped to inform members as to issues arising. This document has also been included on our website – at the end of the document we have included a link to the new draft Planning (Scotland) Bill which incorporates all those amendments passed at Stage 2.

May 2018:

  • The Local Government and Communities Committee published their Stage 1 Report on The Planning (Scotland) Bill. The report can be accessed here.
  • BEFS response can be found in our News items, here.
  • In light of this report, a debate on The Planning (Scotland) Bill was timetabled at the Scottish Parliament for Tuesday 29th May 2018 – BEFS issued a briefing for MSPs, it can be accessed here.
  • The Scottish Government issued their response to the Committee’s Stage 1 Report, this can be accessed here.



In August 2017 BEFS responded to the Scottish Government’s Position Statement on the Scottish Planning Review. This Position statement took into account the responses to the Places, People and Planning consultation. BEFS expressed disappointment that the scope of the review has shifted from major reform to a series of procedural changes. BEFS also highlighted that the Strategic Environmental Assessment identified potential indirect/localised impacts on the environment resulting from increasing development.

BEFS Members’ responses to the Scottish Government’s Position Statement:

Historic Environment Scotland’s submission is also available here. In January 2017 the Scottish Government launched a consultation on the future of the Scottish planning system. The consultation paper Places, People and Planning set out 20 proposals for changes to the planning system. BEFS response highlights the need for a more evidence-led approach, informed by the experience of delivering the 2006 Planning etc. (Scotland) Act. BEFS comments that the consultation is heavily weighted towards addressing housing and infrastructure issues rather than towards achieving better place-making.

BEFS Members’ responses to Places, People and Planning:

Historic Environment Scotland’s submission is also available here.


The proposals in Places, People and Planning had, in turn, been informed by an independent review panel commissioned, by the Scottish Government in 2015, to carry out a root and branch review of the Scottish planning system. This root and branch review focussed on six themes; development planning, housing delivery, infrastructure, development management, community engagement and leadership, resources and skills. The panel published a series of 48 recommendations in May 2016 and Ministers responded to these in July 2016. Six themed working groups met in September 2016 – a summary of discussions is available here.

BEFS Members’ responses to the 2015 review:

Historic Environment Scotland’s submission is also available here.