'THE draft Planning Bill continues to make its way through Parliament when this week there is a debate on the stage one committee report which precedes the stage two amendments which go before the Local Government Committee, and then comes stage three which allows further amendments with a debate in the chamber and then a final vote.

If approved by a majority of MSPs the bill goes forward to become law which is likely to happen in the Autumn.

I will speak in the debate this week as there are a number of areas where I want to bring forward amendments at stage two. I want to address what I think is the unfairness of developers having the right of appeal when communities who object have no such right. I also want greater recognition of the impact that developments have on local public services and will aim to get into law a requirement to bring forward a public services impact assessment of any major development that identifies how any infrastructure will be resourced. A view that the planning system slows development of new housing is in my view not backed up by fact but is used by those who want to weaken the rights of communities. Communities should be able to use planning rules to shape the future of the places where they live and I hope that with amendments this draft Bill will be improved as in my view it lacks ambition and balance.

I will also be speaking this week in a stage three housing debate which is a technical Bill that changes the classification of social landlords and is needed to ensure further investment for housing associations. I will take the opportunity to speak more widely about the housing crisis that our country continues to have.

It is encouraging that there is more discussion and awareness in Parliament around the housing issues and a good consensus exists around the need to build more public sector housing for rent.

It is disappointing that in the latest round of new build here in Fife the Cowdenbeath area was left out of the plans. I agree with local councillors who say this is not acceptable and are demanding that Fife Council include the Cowdenbeath area for any new phases. We also need to build specific housing for older people and people with disabilities which will free up more family homes.'