Scottish communities minister Stewart Maxwell promised major planning reforms at the inaugural annual conference of the Scottish Property Federation (SPF) yesterday, however the SPF warned that it could be 2018 before these were effective.

Maxwell MSP said: ‘Planning and development are crucial for Scotland's economic success and this government is determined to translate the importance of that idea into sustained, coherent and ambitious reforms. We faced a tough time getting the Budget through, but we can now get on with the job of modernisation’

Planning at heart of Scottish strategy

He added that planning and sustainable development would be at the ‘very heart’ of Scotland's economic strategy and that the government would be considering how to encourage local authorities to embrace more projects.

The minister also outlined plans for an overhaul of the planning system and said a package of reforms coming through will improve the way planning works.

Robust criticism

Kenneth Ross, vice chairman at the SPF, said its agenda had been to be ‘constructive and to engage with government’ but he warned ministers that the SPF would be robust in its criticism where necessary.

He said: ‘While we do have obligations as developers, we must make sure our contributions are used fairly and that our investments are put to good use. We should not be held to ransom over planning applications.

Poor delivery

‘The secondary legislation associated with the Planning Act (2006) is doing little to speed up the process and unless action is taken it may take until 2018 before we have full up to date coverage of local plans throughout the country. There are no timetables in place to ensure delivery. The system is not delivering.’

The event at Dynamic Earth in Edinburgh attracted over 300 industry professionals, with speakers including Land Securities chief executive, Francis Salway.