Deregulated free-for-all planning, new settlements and the spectre of abandoned building sites in Scotland’s crisis-hit oil economy
The creation of new settlements as a response to the accommodation of household growth was regarded by the Scottish Government from the 1980s to around 2008 as an option of the last resort. This position changed due to significant legislative and policy changes to the Scottish planning system which diluted restrictions on greenfield housing development and removed the right for public hearings into development plan objections in the belief that these procedures hindered economic growth. This paper outlines the evolution of planning policy for new settlements from the 1990s to the present and examines its impact upon proposals for such projects in north-east Scotland. It contends that the removal of the right to hearings into major development proposals is symptomatic of both the post-politics condition which seeks to promote neoliberal values by squeezing out dissenting voices and green light administrative law theory which vests important decisions over citizens’ rights in the hands of unaccountable state bureaucrats. Finally it considers the implications of the current North Sea oil crisis for the development of three new settlements in the area.
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