PLANNING decisions in Scotland must not weigh in favour of big developers, MSP Gil Paterson has said.
The Clydebank and Milngavie MSP intervened during a speech by the planning minister Kevin Stewart MSP on Improving Scotland's Planning in the Scottish Parliament.
Mr Paterson told how the balance of power often leans in favour of big developers and not the community, and called for a more equal treatment.
It was said on the back of the struggle facing constituents at Duntiglennan Fields in Duntocher, with many residents campaigning against housing giant Taylor Wimpey’s potential development of a much-loved greenbelt.
Mr Paterson said: “I intervened because at the moment there seems to be too much power in the hands of big developers in Scotland.
“There must be a balance of power to make it fair for both parties, the big developers and communities.
“We have many situations where communities are being railroaded into accepting a huge development, even on protected land, they have highly objected to.
“It is essential as we shape Scotland’s new planning policies – which are currently being consulted on – that we make it fairer, and ensure the balance of power is maintained between developers and communities.”
You can view the exchange at gilmsp.com/news or on Gil’s social media.
See below Gil’s intervention followed by the reply made by the minister.
In the parliament chamber, Mr Paterson said: "We are all aware that, when it comes to developments, the developer has much more power than the community — that is not just a perception but a reality. Does the minister envisage that, following the consultation, which I very much welcome, the balance of power might change somewhat?"
Mr Stewart replied: "I welcome Gil Paterson’s intervention. We need a much more collaborative approach. Wise developers already have a huge amount of consultation with local communities. In this day and age, when we see technological advances, much more use could be made of things such as 3D visualisations, so that people get a real idea of what is proposed for an area.
"Of course, people’s input can lead to changes. As Mr Paterson is well aware, I was in his constituency on Tuesday, and I know that major developments are due to take place there. We hope that, in that place and in other places across Scotland, there can be more community involvement; community planning should be involved in spatial planning.
"As members may have noted, we do not propose an equal right of appeal. We do not want more decisions to be made centrally, and we do not want to undermine investor confidence and create uncertainty for communities by generating more conflict at the end of the process. We are consulting on whether more review decisions should be made at a local level, to reduce appeals."
Much more was said before and after the intervention, with the full speech available below.