Planning act to prove costly to West Lothian Council

West Lothian Council logo
West Lothian Council logo

A new Planning Act which aims to simplify labyrinthine planning laws in Scotland will come  with a £75 million price tag for Scotland’s councils.

In West Lothian that will mean around  an extra £175,000 a year, head of planning, Craig McCorriston told the council’s Development and Transport PDSP.

The new  Act has been four years in the making and has had some 300 plus amendments as its has wound its way through Holyrood.

Mr McCorriston said:  “It was the most amended piece of legislation there has ever been in the UK. The  financial appraisal suggests that over a 10 year period that will cost Scottish local authorities £75m.”

 He added that breaking that figure down   “that would add potentially up to  £175,000 cost of running planning system of this council every year.”

Mr McCorriston added: “We haven’t seen anything to mitigate costs. The  obvious way would be to  lift planning application fees. I hope there will be significant uplift in fees to offset that cost.”

Asked by the council leader Councillor Lawrence Fitzpatrick if the changes meant  more staff would be needed, Mr McCorriston said not at present, but added a cautionary note that if more were needed as the implications of the  new rules become clearer, the council would need an uplift in fees to pay for additional staffing.

He also suggested a potential shortage of staff, given the closure of Scottish planning schools.