Planning Application Statistics Slammed

Jane Wood (HFS) (Photo: Chris Watt /

Woeful planning statistics are unacceptable with average processing times for major housing developments now taking over a year on average 

Critical government action required against backdrop of Local Authority housing emergencies and research showing 693,000 Scottish households in some form of housing need 

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New planning application statistics published today have been described as “woeful” and “unacceptable” by sector body Homes for Scotland (HFS). The figures highlight a 41 per cent drop in in the volume of applications for major housing developments (those for 50 or more homes) in the first two quarters of 2023/24 compared to the same period a year prior.  This continues the decline in such applications coming forward for the fourth consecutive quarter. Despite a continuing fall in applications, the average processing time for Q1 and Q2 2023/24 was 62.1 weeks (a rise from 36.4 weeks on Q1 and Q2 2022/23) against a statutory timeframe of 16 weeks.   

The number of local housing development applications has also fallen by 18 per cent across the same period, with average processing times for these being 17.8 weeks (more than double the eight week statutory timeframe). 

HFS Chief Executive Jane Wood said: 

“With the National Planning Improvement Champion yesterday concluding that there is no overall agreement on what successful planning looks like, I’m certain that we can all be united in the view that these woeful figures aren’t it and are simply unacceptable.  

“The Scottish Government must get Scotland’s planning system sorted if we are to ensure this and future generations are able to access warm sustainable homes that meet their needs and they can afford. 

“These figures highlight the scale of investment in planning services that is required at a time when the Scottish Government has announced a 43% reduction in the Planning budget from £11.7m to £6.6m.   

“They also show the critical need for immediate short-term solutions.  We have already submitted the urgent actions we believe need to be taken by the Scottish Government and want to work with Ministers and officials to implement meaningful change as quickly as possible so that Scotland’s people have the range and choice of homes that they both need and deserve.”  

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