§ Mr. Allan Stewart
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he will review the present system of hearing appeals against decisions made by local planning authorities; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. Rifkind
There are two methods of determining planning appeals: either by holding a public local inquiry or, where the parties and the Secretary of State agree, on the basis of parties' written submissions and a site inspection report without the holding of an inquiry.
Over the past few years steps have been taken to shorten the time required to determine planning appeals. In 1976 about 30 percent. of planning appeals were delegated for decision by reporters instead of by the Secretary of State. In these cases the reporter issues a reasoned decision letter instead of preparing a report and recommendation for submission to the Secretary of State for his consideration, thus substantially reducing the length of time taken to determine the appeal. The system proved successful and acceptable and in 1978 the proportion of appeals delegated was extended to about 70 per cent. of the total. Towards the end of 1979 interested bodies, including COSLA and the Scottish Committee of the Council on Tribunals, were invited to comment, by 31 January, on proposals for a further extension so that almost 100 per cent. of planning appeals would be delegated. The Secretary of State would retain power to recall for his own jurisdiction any cases with special features.
Greater emphasis has been placed on the written submissions procedure, which is the quicker method of determining an appeal.
Revised rules of procedure for the Induct of public local inquiries into planning appeals and planning applications referred to the Secretary of State will be laid before the House in the near future.
§ Mr. Allan Stewart
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what is the average length of time between the submission of an appeal against a planning decision by 516W a Scottish local authority and the date of the subsequent inquiry.