May 012013

PPD May 2013 Newsletter

Welcome to the PPD May 2013 Scottish Planning Newsletter

Recent headline events are :

  • Planning fees rose by 20% on 6th April.  Click HERE for more information.
  • The Government is consulting on changes to Judicial Review procedures.  Click HERE for more information.
  • A draft of the new Scottish Planning Policy has been published by the Government for consultation.  Click HERE for more information.
  • A Main Issues Report for National Planning Framework 3 has been published by the Government for consultation.  Click HERE for more information.

For our regular review of development plan progress across Scotland, click HERE.
Other information is available on our website, click HERE.  For previous newsletters click HERE

Planning Fees

Scottish planning application fees increased by approximately 20% from 6 April 2013. This is not the radical revision of fees that the Government proposed and consulted on last year : it continues the present fee structure.

Typical fee increases are :

  • Houses :   £319 increased to £382 per house, up to new maximum fee (see below).
  • Other buildings :  from £319 to £382 per 75 sq m, up to the maximum fee.
  • Change of use :  from £319 up to £382.
  • “Maximum fee” (other than waste, minerals and drilling) from £15,950 to £19,100.
  • Planning permission in Principle : £382 per 0.1ha up to £9550 (previously £7975).

The Government Circular (2/2013) announcing the increase merely contains a fee update.  For interpretation and advice on fees you need to go back to Circular 1/2004.  There you will find advice on all the odd situations such as applications crossing council boundaries, re-submissions, and how to calculate mixed-use developments.

Judicial and statutory review of planning decisions

In February, the Scottish Government issued a consultation paper  on proposals to restructure the way civil cases and summary criminal cases are dealt with by the courts in Scotland. This follows the “Scottish Civil Courts Review” led by Lord Gill.  Two parts of this have important impacts on planning court petitions.

Time limit  
One of the unsatisfactory aspects of the present system is the lack of a time limit within which a petition for Judicial Review can be submitted to the Court of Session.  Developers are therefore left unsure as to when their planning permission is safe from JR.  The Government consider that there is a public interest in challenges to the decisions of public bodies being made promptly and resolved quickly, and now propose to introduce a time limit of 3 months within which judicial review can be submitted.  Nevertheless the 6 week time limit will still apply to “statutory” rights of appeal to the Court of Session, such as reporters’ decisions on planning permission appeals.

Introducing a leave to appeal mechanism.
At present, there is no mechanism by which “unmeritorious” applications for judicial review can be sifted out. The Scottish Civil Courts Review noted that there “has been a steady increase in numbers of petitions for judicial review. These take up a disproportionate amount of sitting days”.   In England and Wales, where a permission stage has been introduced, permission is refused in a relatively high percentage of cases and only in a small minority of cases is there an appeal against refusal of permission.
The Government therefore proposes to introduce a requirement to obtain leave from the Court of Session to proceed with an application for judicial review.

The full paper can be seen at Responses are sought by 24 May 2013.

Consultation on Scottish Planning Policy

The SPP is the Scottish Government policy statement on how nationally important land use planning matters should be addressed across the country. The Government has issued a draft updated SPP for comment.

The purpose of the SPP is to set out national planning policies which reflect Scottish Ministers’ priorities for the development and use of land. It directly relates to:

  • the preparation of development plans;
  • the design of development, from initial concept through to delivery ; and
  • the determination of planning applications and appeals.

The SPP promotes consistency in the application of policy across Scotland whilst allowing sufficient flexibility to reflect local circumstances. It does not restate the policy and guidance set out elsewhere.

A first read reveals a more lucid, easy-to-read approach, using colour headings for ease of movement around the document.  A strong emphasis is on outcomes, rather that the process. This is clearly seen in the “Principal Policies”, which admirably starts with sustainable economic growth and development, and now includes climate change, placemaking and location of new development.  Commentary on process (development plans and management) – given significant early coverage before – is now presented as the means to achieving the policies and outcomes.  This concept may come as a surprise to some old-style “development controllers”!

The subject policies are now clearly grouped :  buildings, natural resources, movement and ultilities.  Under buildings, many readers will be pleased to see early emphasis on a generous supply of housing land and maintenance of an effective 5-year supply at all times.

The draft SPP can be seen at :
Responses are required to the consultation by 23rd July 2013.

Consultation on National Planning Framework 3

The Government has also started a consultation on the Main Issues of a new National Planning Framework 3  (NPF3).

The NPFs provide a framework for the spatial development of Scotland. The third NPF will set out the Government’s development priorities over the next 20-30 years. The Main Issues Report sets out the Government’s preferred option plus reasonable alternatives.

Like the SPP, the NPF3 Main Issues Report is more concise and reads better than NPF2.   It has significant emphasis on reducing energy demand and Scotland becoming a “low carbon place” : the title of the first main, and longest section.
As regards the candidate national developments, these are proposed to be as follows.  It will be remembered that this designation has the effect of approving the principle of these developments, and that subsequent planning applications deal only with the detail.

1Onshore infrastructure for offshore renewable energynew
2Grid Infrastructure EnhancementsFrom NPF 2
3Baseload capacity at existing sites: Longannet and CockenzieVariation from NPF 2
4Grangemouth and Peterhead Carbon Capture and Storagenew
5Metropolitan Glasgow Strategic Drainage PlanFrom NPF 2
6Central Scotland Green NetworkFrom NPF 2
7Dundee Waterfrontnew
9Aberdeen Harbournew
10Grangemouth Investment ZoneVariation from NPF 2
11Freight Capacity on the ForthVariation from NPF 2
12High Speed RailFrom NPF 2
Un-numbered :
  • Airport Enhancements
From NPF 2
  • National Cycling and  Walking Network

Developments in NPF 2 which not included in the draft NPF 3 :

Replacement Forth Crossing
West of Scotland rail enhancements
Port development on Loch Ryan
Scapa Flow container transhipment facility
New power station and transhipment hub at Hunterston
2014 Commonwealth Games
Under way
Under way

Notable additions are Carbon Capture and Storage, a concept that the Westminster Government appear to have gone cold on; and regeneration of Ravenscraig and Dundee Waterfront, both of which have stalled in recent years.

For the first time, NPF 3 proposes to indicate areas where the Government does not wish to see new wind farms : National Parks and National Scenic Areas.

The Main Issues Report can be seen at  Views are sought by 22nd July 2013.

Development plan progress

South East Scotland Strategic Development Plan (SESPlan) is continuing its lethargic approval process.  The Reporters have passed their findings on to the Ministers who have until 8th August to respond.  Experience shows that final approval will come well before then.  Once this milestone is reached the Local Development Plans in its area will start rolling, most of which have been on hold pending approval of SESPlan by the Ministers.

A further group of Draft Local Development Plans are at or about to reach public consultation stage.  These are :

  • Aberdeen City (LDP number 2) : ”Pre-Main Issues Report” consultation and land search closes on 14th June.
  • Cairngorms National Park :  Draft Plan consultation closes 5th July.
  • City of Edinburgh :  Draft Plan consultation ending on 14th June.
  • Falkirk : Draft Plan,  ending on 7th June.
  • Glasgow :  Draft Plan publication and consultation “before August”.
  • Inverclyde :   Draft Plan publication expected on 31st May.
  • Midlothian :  Main Issues Report, consultation 13th May until August.
  • Scottish Borders :  Draft Plan publication “during the summer”.
  • South Lanarkshire :  Draft Plan publication 16th May, consultation ending 28th June.
  • West Dunbartonshire :  Draft Plan consultation starts early July, closing date not announced.