Oct 222014

October 2014 Scottish Planning News

Welcome to the PPD October 2014 Scottish Planning News

This summer and autumn have been relatively quiet months for changes to the planning system, with several major events taking place which may have been a distraction!

Planning fees are increasing on 1st November.  See further details below.

We discuss the recent and impending imposition of controls over matters which previously were not concerns of the planning system.  High hedges, click HERE; payday lending and betting offices, click HERE; and hill tracks, click HERE.

For an update on development plan progress throughout Scotland, click HERE.

Other information is available on our website, click HERE.    For previous newsletters click HERE

Fee increase

Planning fees will be increase again, by about 5%, from 1 November 2014.

This is the third increase in planning fees since the start of the 2009 planning regime. Fees were increased by about ten per cent from 1 April 2010. Most recently fees were increased from 6 April 2013 by about 20 per cent. So from 1 November 2014 planning fees will have increased by over 35 per cent since March 2010.

Examples of the increases are:

  • House extensions, etc; go up from £192 to £202;
  • the “standard” fee to build one house, create 75 sq m of floorspace, 0.1ha of site area, change-of-use, etc; goes up from £382 to £401;
  • the maximum planning permission in principle fee goes up from £9550 to £10,028;
  • the maximum full application fee goes up from £19,100 to £20,055.

The Government justifies this fee increase as a reward to Councils for improved performance:

The average decision time for the 7,855 local developments decided in quarter 1, 2014/15 was 10.1 weeks, the quickest average decision time over the past nine quarters and more than 2 days quicker than the previous quarter (10.5 weeks).

There is a similar improvement of 2 days when compared to the equivalent quarter in 2013/14 (10.5 weeks) and when compared to the first quarter in 2012/13 (11.2 weeks) the improvement is over 1 week.

The average decision time for the 86 major developments decided in quarter 1, 2014/15 was 28.9 weeks, the quickest average decision time over the past nine quarters and more than 6 weeks quicker than the previous quarter (35.2 weeks).

There is an improvement of almost 4 weeks on the average decision time for the equivalent quarter in 2013/14 (32.8 weeks) and when compared to the first quarter in 2012/13 (38.5 weeks) the improvement is almost 10 weeks”

chart2                     chart4

(From Planning Performance Statistics, Quarter 1 2014/15, 1st October 2014; the Scottish Government) 

The downside of this is that the statutory determining times for “local” applications is 8 weeks, and for “major” is 16 weeks; so although an improvement, these averages are not even being reached for local applications – and are some way off being achieved for major applications : the very ones which are likely to be delivering jobs, investment and economic enhancement.

High hedges .. .. ..

Every so often issues arise which the great and good consider can best be dealt with by the poor, maligned planning system!

There has been a rush of these this year, starting with high hedges – particularly unusual because the planning system has never before controlled what people can grow – only what they can cut down.  The High Hedges (Scotland) Act came into force in April, which introduces a system by which action can be taken against high hedges which restrict daylight and amenity. Many councils have decided that its provisions will be administered by their planning department.

Basically a high hedge is over 2 metres high and formed by a row of two or more trees or shrubs.  It is only defined as a high hedge if someone complains about it and that claim is upheld by the council.  Complainants have to demonstrate to the council that they have tried to reach a solution with the hedge owner by alternative means, such as by mediation.  If that has failed they send a “High Hedges Notice” application to the Council with a fee – presently £450.   The council notifies the hedge owner that a complaint has been made, and then an officer from the council will go out to the property to assess the hedge, and its impact on the light levels in the complainant’s property.  If this determines that the hedge is “high”, the Council serves the notice which describes the actions required and contains a deadline.  If this is not met, the council can do the work itself and recharge the hedge owner.  The hedge does not have to be on an immediately adjoining property.

There are appeal rights to the Scottish Ministers for both parties.

For further information read  http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Resource/0044/00445025.pdf

. .. .. Pay Day Lending and Betting Offices  .. .. ..

…. .. and the Government also propose that the planning system can contribute to dealing with these problems!

A consultation paper has been issued proposing that:

Betting shops be removed from Class 2 of the Use Classes Order, and be added to the list of “sui generis” uses which are not in any class.  However the current Class 2 freedoms from planning control to change from use as a betting office to other uses would remain.

Pay Day Lending is more difficult: it is harder to define, but presently comes under the general description of “financial services” as Class 2.  The consultation suggest two options: one is making exclusions to the definition of financial services in Class 2 – making them sui generis,  such as “Money Service Business”, “Pawn broking”, “Premises for buying goods from visiting members of the public”, “Financial lending other than by deposit takers”, and “Deposit takers”.  Option 2 would be the reverse – being more specific about what financial services are within Class 2 and therefore free from planning control : the suggestions are “Accountancy services”, “Insurance Services”, “Deposit takers” – such as a bank, a building society, a credit union or a friendly society.

Not only does this seem complex and open to interpretation, but could add to endless arguments where pay-day lending takes place within other premises such as a shop. The planning officer dealing with an application will need guidance on what is an acceptable number of such facilities in an area, so there will need to be another new raft of planning policies on this subject.

The Government consultation is open until 14th November and can be accessed at http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Publications/2014/08/6425/downloads#res458193

Readers unfamiliar with the term and purpose of the “Use Classes Order” should click on this link HERE

.. .. .. .. and hill tracks.

“Prior notification” is a process that already exists in planning legislation and would be achieved by amendments to the General Permitted Development Order.  The requirement for “prior notification” would apply throughout Scotland for any private way, but the emphasis will be on controlling tracks in areas where it is considered that additional protection of amenity, landscape or environment is required, while not imposing any significant additional burden on businesses in other areas.The Minister for Local Government and Planning has announced that “prior notification” will be required to planning authorities before “private ways” for agricultural or forestry uses are constructed (usually known as hill tracks). The planning authority can then consider whether or not prior approval is required for the siting, design or materials used for the track.

Local Development Plan progress at a glance

The following chart gives a snap-shot of development plan progress throughout Scotland.
Devplan progress October 14

Key dates are :

Angus:  the Proposed Plan was due this month, but suggestions are that it has been delayed into the new year.   If you have development interests in Angus, keep an eye on the website or call us.
East Lothian: expects to publish its Main Issues Report this month, with consultation starting in November.
Fife: consultation on Proposed Plan starting this month.  The plan can be viewed on the Council’s website.
North Lanarkshire:  Main Issues Report expected in new year.
East Ayrshire: proposed plan expected early in the new year.

PPD Planning advice throughout Scotland

May 172012

Development Plan Review May 2012

May 2012

Recent headline events have seen West Lothian Council circulate a questionnaire to those promoting sites for development allocation, which is designed to test whether sites are likely to be “effective” in delivering housing land during the Plan period.   South Ayrshire has produced a Draft Plan which is very limited in its allocation of development land.  Legal challenges to the Aberdeen Local Development Plan (by Tesco) , and to the Cairngorms National Park Local Plan continue.  Our favourite Strategic Development Plan “Tayplan”, completed its Reporters examination in April and was awarded the RTPI Silver Jubilee Cup, receiving very high praise.  The Reporters’ findings on our unfavoured plan, Glasgow and the Clyde Valley Strategic Development Plan, were released in April with considerable comment on its approach to strategic housing land.

Progress made recently has been publication of a number of Main Issues Reports (MIR).  Few new draft development plans have appeared since our last bulletin in February.  At that time several councils appeared to be avoiding controversial decisions by delaying publication until after the Local Government elections, and that is basically what happened.

In the two central belt city-regions, councils are awaiting the approval of Strategic Development Plans before drafting new local development plans.

The February bulletin included an explanation of the many acronyms that are found in development planning :  if you see one below that you don’t understand, click back to the February bulletin here.

Some forthcoming dates for development plans throughout Scotland 

Aberdeenshire Local Development Plan
The Council expect that this plan will be adopted on 1st June 2012, being the first “new style” plan to complete the process.

Highland Council Inner Moray Firth Local Development Plan
The MIR has been published, with comments to be in by 6th July.  The plan covers an area centred on Inverness and bounded by Nairn, Tain and Fort Augustus.

Moray Local Development Plan
The MIR is expected to be published during May.

Scottish Borders Local Development Plan
The MIR has been published, with comments to be in by 25th June.

South Ayrshire Draft Local Plan
This is expected to be formally published during May, but can already be viewed on the Council website.

South Lanarkshire Draft Local Plan
The Main Issues Report (MIR) has been published, with comments to be in by 29th June.

West Lothian Council
As mentioned above, a consultation is underway with those who have already made representations to the “Call for sites”, taking the form of an “effectiveness” questionnaire which is to be returned to the council by 1st June.

West Dunbartonshire
The MIR has been published, with comments to be in by 22nd June.

May 2012

Feb 092012

Development Plan review

Feb 2012

Many of us were cynical that the Government’s aims and exhortations for speeding-up the preparation and approval of development plans would translate into action by planning authorities. In much of Scotland, these aims have evaporated in the mist, and the cynicism has proved to be well-founded.    It is unbelievable how slow many authorities have been;  and in council areas covered by a Strategic Development Plan, desperately slow.  The SDPs have been lumbering along slowly, some swamped in a sea of verbiage.

One technique that a number of councils have adopted, which we have found useful, is to start land-searches early in the process.   This has taken the form of “calls for sites” – even before the Main Issues Report (MIR) stage.  A gazetteer of “candidate” sites is then published, together with an assessment process which relates the available potential supply of land thereby revealed to the demand, then ranks the sites into various categories:  eg, from “promoted for inclusion in the housing land supply” down to “rejected”.   This allows site owners to make an early assessment of the work they will have to do to get a site into the plan.  It also allows communities to understand what land is being promoted for development.  The risk is that the whole process is delayed, but some councils have avoided this.   The statutory process is to go straight from the Main Issues Report to the Draft Plan, which is a big jump.

LDP  SDP  MIR  SEA : Are you confused by these acronyms?    See section on Terminology below.

Some forthcoming dates for development plans throughout Scotland

Argyll and Bute Local Development Plan

The Council’s Development Plan Scheme indicated that a Draft Plan was to be published in January, but it did not appear!    News from the Council is that August is now the anticipated date.

Clackmannan Local Development Plan

This Council’s DP Scheme, and indeed the Scottish Government, anticipated publication of a Local Development Plan for Clackmannan in February.  Current advice from the Council is “after the Local Government elections, maybe June”.   Watch our website for an update!

Dumfries and Galloway Local Development Plan

This is a council that is presently doing a “sites” consultation, following publication of the MIR.  If you have a land interest in its area, be sure to check the consultation documents and SEA, and respond by the deadline which is 9th March 2012.

Mid-Fife Local Plan

This old-style local plan was finally adopted by the Council at the end of January .  It covers Kirkcaldy, Glenrothes, Methil, Lochgelly, etc.

North Lanarkshire Local Plan

The Scottish Government reporters have now issued their “Report of Findings” on this old-style draft plan, following its examination stage.  The report is available on the Council’s website – but at 720 pages watch what you do with the “print” button.  The Council anticipates submitting the Findings to committee in June for adoption, with publication following soon after.

Perth and Kinross Local Development Plan

Like its big brother the “Tayplan” strategic development plan, this plan has been produced quickly and gets its message across in a reasonably concise manner : the policy section taking only 71 pages.  The remaining 249 pages are diagrams and narrative for each community in the area.  The document opens easily on the web and the plans are easy to open and read without stressing-out your PC.   Consultation closes on 10th April 2012.

Renfrewshire Local Development Plan

The Main Issues Report is at the consultation stage.  Comments have to be made to the Council by 24th February.

South Ayrshire Local Development Plan

This long-awaited draft plan is due to go back for Council consideration before Easter.  Release to the public is anticipated in May, but it should be possible to see the plan in a “raw” form in the Council papers before then.



Some readers may not be familiar with the terminology and acronyms surrounding this subject.  A few of the ones you will often see are :

SDP : Strategic Development Plan.    These replace the old Structure Plans, but only in the “City Regions” of Glasgow and the Clyde Valley,  Edinburgh and South East Scotland “SESPlan”, Dundee / Perth “TayPlan”, and Aberdeen City and Shire.    Outwith these areas, LDPs do the strategic planning.

LDP : Local Development Plan.  These are successors to the old Local Plans, and require to be produced by all planning authorities.

MIR : Main Issues Report.    The first statutory step in preparing an SDP or LDP.  This is supposed to identify the main issues which the draft plan will seek to address.  As mentioned in the introduction, some planning authorities are supplementing the MIR with an additional site selection and consultation stage.

Draft Plan.   This follows the MIR and is the last stage of the plan-making process when developers and the public can make representations on a new plan.  It is important to remember a full case must now be made for or against the Draft Plan by the end of its consultation stage, as further support documents are unlikely to be accepted at the examination stage.

DPS :  Development Plan Scheme.    If you want to find out when a council’s development plan is being produced, or what stage has been reached in the process, find its Development Plan Scheme on the web.  All councils are required to produce and update a DPS.  Be aware that the development plan programmes of many councils have slipped since the last DPS update.

SEA :  Strategic Environmental Assessment.     All SDPs and LDPs, and some MIRs, are now accompanied by SEAs.  At their very least they present a summary environmental appraisal of the policies, proposals and development sites.  SEAs have also accompanied the additional site selection process used by some councils.  SEAs should be read by those with site interests, as they often contain rudimentary assumptions regarding the impact and developability of sites and may need to be challenged in Draft Plan submissions.


February 2012