Planning bill changes aim to help tackle housing crisis

Wednesday October 24th 2018

housing crisis

Changes agreed today to the Scottish Government’s Planning Bill will help tackle Scotland’s housing crisis by making land for house-building more affordable and by better regulating short-term lets, according to Scottish Greens housing spokesperson Andy Wightman MSP.

Scottish Greens have long campaigned for reform of the planning system, to counter the current set-up where the price of land rockets once it receives planning permission. Holyrood’s Local Government and Communities Committee, of which Mr Wightman is a member, today agreed to amend the government’s Planning (Scotland) Bill so that the amount councils pay to landowners in new “masterplan consent areas” is not inflated by the prospect of development

The Committee also agreed an amendment from Andy which means that changing a property from a person’s home to a short-term let will require full planning consent based on clear criteria. Local councils would determine such applications on the basis of local policy, and the changes would not affect homeowners or occupiers who only rent out a room.

Andy Wightman, Housing spokesperson for the Scottish Greens and MSP for Lothian, said:

“With average house prices seven and a half times the average salary we must take every opportunity we can to help people afford to buy or rent a home. Giving local councils the power to buy land at existing use value rather than the inflated value caused by planning permission is an important tool in the box.

“A classic example is the Waterfront in Edinburgh where there are swathes of vacant land that have been allocated for housing for years. Developers have been biding their time while the land value rises and the city’s housing crisis worsens. This land should be available for the council to buy at its current value so it can get on with the job of building affordable housing for ownership and rent.

“We also know that the uncontrolled and rapid rise in short-term lets in our cities and our rural communities is depriving families and individuals of badly-needed long-term homes. I am pleased that the Minister has agreed to discuss this matter further as the Bill progresses through Parliament.”

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