Monday 17 November 2003

Why are we waiting?

An opinion piece in today's Edinburgh Evening News complains about the state of Scotland's planning system. A few days ago the Scotsman's Bill Jamieson was telling us of the problems that he was subjected to by his local planners:
Put out the flags. Work finally starts this month on Inverogle Cottage, my derelict wee house in Lochearnhead. What I thought would be a straightforward process of planning permission (eight weeks at most) and a building warrant has taken eight gruelling, nerve-wracking months.
Business too suffers from the planning system:
According to the "system", no planning application should take more than eight weeks to complete. But, according to Gerry More, a senior executive of Cala Homes and one of the authors of the CBI report, most businesses now expect planning applications of any size to take two years to process.
And if you think it's only greedy capitalists who lose out, think again:
Ten years ago, land would account for between 7.5 per cent and 12.5 per cent of the value of a new house. Nowadays, it could be anything between 25 per cent and 50 per cent.

It’s hard not to disagree with Stewart Milne’s blunt conclusion: "It’s crazy when you end up in situations where people are buying properties where 50 per cent of the value is going towards the land. The one thing we’ve got in Scotland is an abundance of land for the size of the population we’ve got."

So it's not only an out-of-control money supply that's behind the spiralling cost of housing.

The latest infrastructure fiasco in the capital involves the "new" railway station at Edinburgh Park:

Plans for a station at Edinburgh Park were first floated more than five years ago, yet it took until August 2001 for agreement to be reached over owner-ship of the site and another year for the project to get planning permission.

Council leader Donald Anderson admitted he had been "driven daft" by the hold-ups over Edinburgh Park station, which has had its opening delayed by at least six months. Despite assurances early last month that it would be complete by October 29, officials at New Edinburgh Limited (NEL), the owners and developers of Edinburgh Park, have admitted it is still not finished.

I wonder if Councillor Anderson has noticed that's his own Labour Party that is responsible for all of these bureaucratic hold-ups. Someone needs to pull the finger out.