East Neuk planning moratorium

The moratorium on large-scale building projects in the East Neuk which my fellow ward Councillor Bill Porteous calls for (in today’s Courier) is not possible. Fife Council does not have the power to grant one; it has to ask the Scottish Government, and should the Scottish Government comply, which is unimaginable, legal challenges from developers would abound. The planning system, with its development plans, policies and procedures, cannot be circumvented with such an intervention, however justified or popular it may be.

Cllr Porteous’ call though reflects the frustration felt by many councillors, community councils and residents that the planning system affords little opportunity for them to steer development according to community interests. The current planning system is essentially developer-led, and weighted at key points in favour of developers’ interests.

This will get worse, not better, when the Planning Bill, which is currently passing through Holyrood, gets on to the statute books. The Scottish Government is seeking to water down the already inadequate opportunities for public engagement in the process whereby Local Development Plans are put together. It has also rejected outright the call for equal rights of appeal, whereby objectors get the same rights to appeal a planning decision as applicants.

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