Falkirk planners struggle to meet targets

Falkirk East MSP Angus MacDonald.
Falkirk East MSP Angus MacDonald.
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Falkirk Council’s planning department is failing to meet targets for making decisions on plans.

The Scottish Government wants local authorities to reach a verdict on major applications within four months.

The council blames a lack of information from applicants for causing the delays, which in turn means it is impossible to carry out consultations in the set period.

In other cases, statutory consultees had not replied in time.

Currently only Stirling and East Dunbartonshire meet the targets.

Falkirk East MSP Angus MacDonald described it as ‘‘a cause for concern’’.

He said: “As a former member of Falkirk Council’s planning committee I have some sympathy with the pressures faced by the planning department.

“Clearly it is facing a significant workload and financial pressures, as is the council as a whole.

“The process needs to be streamlined with the necessary investment in resources to help ensure many more applications are determined within established deadlines.”

The convener of the council’s planning committee, Billy Buchanan, praised the ‘‘diligent’’ work done by the department.

But he said: “We as councillors have got no input into the management side of the applications and timescales involved.

“We’re only involved as the decision makers once the applications come on the agenda.

“The issue of non determination has been highlighted by applicants over the course of time, but members can’t 
get involved in live applications.”

A spokesperson for Falkirk Council said: “All planning applications are monitored in terms of improving performance and in particular the determination of major applications.

“Pre-consultation advice to prospective applicants is now actively promoted to assist in identifying issues with a view to ensuring applications are progressed timeously.

‘‘In future we will also be using the new legislative powers to offer processing agreements for major applications.

‘‘It is recognised that the use of a processing agreement can be a major contributor 
to increasing certainty and more efficient planning processes.”