Planning service reports progress

Continued improvements achieved by Scottish Borders Council’s planning service have been reported to the Scottish Government.

It is anticipated that when performance measures are analysed, the council will see an improvement compared to the 2013/14 report, which rated nine areas ‘green’, three ‘amber’, and one ‘red’. This year, ten green ratings and three amber are expected.

Councillor Ron Smith, executive member for planning and environment, said: “While last year’s response from the Scottish Government to our planning performance framework was generally very good, there were some areas which required further work, and I am delighted that the department has progressed well in this respect and hopefully that will be reflected in the ratings achieved this year.”

The average time to decide planning applications fell in 2014/15, the council has reported to the Scottish Government. This includes the average time to decide major applications (eg wind farms and major housing developments), falling from 73.3 weeks in 13/14 to 30.9 weeks last year.

In addition, local non-householder developments and householder developments saw reductions in average decision-making timescales.

The year to the end of March 2015 also saw a reduction in the number of applications over a year old in the system – known as legacy cases. Almost 200 were cleared, an increase of 15 per cent on the previous year, with just over 200 left in the system.

The high number of legal agreements the council enters into in respect of its development contributions policy continues to have an impact on processing times for applications.

The time taken to determine applications subject to a legal agreement has fallen from 99 weeks in 2012/13 to 62.7 weeks in 2014/15 – 47.6 weeks when pre-2009 legacy cases are removed from the figures.