Feb 182018
 
 ppd logo

New Planning Bill published

In December, the Scottish Government published its new Planning Bill.

This briefing note provides a summary of the main changes contained in the Bill. Further details of these changes can be discussed with John at PPD – contact details at end.

The Scottish Parliament’s Local Government and Communities Committee has launched a call for organisations and individuals to submit written evidence setting out their views on the Bill. Those views will then inform the Committee’s scrutiny of the Bill. The closing date for receipt of submissions is 2 February 2018.

What are the key changes?

Changes to the development planning system
(planning policy and development plans)

Strategic Development Plans will be abolished.

The National Planning Framework (NPF) will include:

  • the Government’s Scottish Planning Policy (an existing document),
  • a regional section, with a local authority duty to assist in its preparation and a power to require co-operation among local authorities in providing information,
  • the NPF will become part of the ‘Statutory Development Plan’ (along with the ‘local development plans’).

Local Development Plans

  • To be reviewed on a 10-year cycle, instead of 5 at present.    (Amendment can be made if required before this time),
  • Main Issues Reports will be abolished,
  • the plan preparation process is to to be shortened and made more streamlined than present,
  • “Gate-checking” of the proposed plan by a Scottish Government Reporter:  the planning authority have to prepare an “Evidence Report” which must be approved by the Reporter before the Plan can proceed.
  • potentially reduced scope of the final examination,
  • councils will no longer be able to ‘adopt’ supplementary guidance.

Local Place Plans” will be introduced by which a community can make its own plan.

  • They will be prepared by a “community body”,
  • the community body will have to conform to certain requirements for the production and submission of a Local Place Plan, such as an adopted Local Development Plan,
  • the Local Development Plan will require to have regard to any existing Local Place Plans.

Changes to the Development Management system
(submitting and assessing planning applications)

The pre-application process for major and national developments

  • A planning application must be submitted within 18 months of the date of the ‘proposal of application notice’ (PAN) to which it relates. At present there is no time limit,
  • the power will be introduced for the Government to make Regulations to specify the content of the statutory Pre-Application Consultation (PAC) reports,
  • the power will be introduced for the Government to make Regulations specifying the circumstances in which PAC is not required.

Expanded schemes of delegation of application to officers, and local reviews

“Delegation” will be extended to:

  • certificates of existing or proposed lawful use or development,
  • applications for consent to display advertisements,
  • “Prior notification” of permitted development rights.

Duration of planning permission

  • A condition must specify the period within which the development must be commenced,
  • the ‘default’ period will be 3 years for a detailed permission and 5 years for a PPP but longer or shorter period may be imposed by the planning authority.

Applications to modify and discharge Planning Obligations:

  • Flexibility will be introduced to allow a planning authority to ‘part-grant’ or ‘modify’ an application –subject to applicant agreement.

Enforcement

  • Significant increases to maximum fines available for non-compliance with various enforcement notices, and unpaid direct action costs can be imposed on land titles.

Performance

  • Mandatory training of Councillors involved in LRBs, and annual planning performance reports.

Fees

  • Planning authorities to charge full or reduced fees or waive fees, within parameters established by the Scottish Ministers.
  • some discretionary charging for service provision (eg. pre-application consultation),
  • higher fees for retrospective planning applications,
  • Scottish Ministers will be able to charge fees for the discharge of their functions. (fees for planning appeals?).

Enabling powers to introduce an infrastructure levy in Scotland

  • The levy would capture a proportion of land value enhancement to fund investment in infrastructure.
  • it would be payable to and spent by the local authority in whose area the development takes place, but with potential for pooling of contributions from across the local authority area or at a regional level.
  • the Bill provides power for Scottish Ministers to make regulations detailing matters such as how a levy will be calculated, who will be liable, collection, aggregation and spending of contributions and rights of appeal.
  • the Bill does not in itself require that an infrastructure levy be introduced, as the Government states that further work and consultation is necessary on the subject.

Power to introduce “Simplified Development Zones”

  • An SDZ scheme would grant a general planning permission for the type of development set out in the scheme, within the geographic location (zone) to which the scheme relates,
  • a scheme can also serve as roads construction consent, listed building consent and conservation area consent if these are specified in the scheme, and can change the ‘deemed consent’ regulations to display adverts,
  • anyone can request that a SDZ be designated,
  • planning authorities will be required to consider from time to time whether parts of their area merit designation as a scheme, and the Scottish Ministers can direct a planning authority to designate a scheme,
  • schemes are made by planning authorities, and a consultation process is required.

Commentary

Only eight and a half years since the last major upheaval in the Scottish planning system, another is looming.  The Bill’s content will not come as a surprise, as our previous client briefings have described the review commissioned by the Government, and the consultation document “Places, people and planning”.

The substantive changes are in Development Planning, with a fundamental change in the way the system works.
These represent:

  • more specific Government involvement in plan-making (in the form of the NPF),
  • the end of regional planning as we have known it since 1975 (it will be interesting how regional issues are dealt with between the Government (in the NPF), and possible joint working by Councils on certain topics),
  • we applaud attempts to streamline LDPs and do not bemoan the demise of Main Issues Reports.  However we are concerned that the ‘gatecheck’ could reduce the opportunity for thorough examination of plans.  The devil will be in the detail.  We expect that councils will still wish to carry out some form of pre-plan consultation such as the “call for sites” carried out by most councils.
  • ten year duration for plans seems long: we expect that a range of issues will need to be reviewed within that period.  On the other hand some councils have barely managed to produce their existing Local Development Plans in ten years!
  • The end of supplementary guidance is very welcome. Many councils were using these as a way of approving very detailed planning policy with little opportunity for effective examination and challenge,
  • we will be interested to see Local Place Plans as they emerge.  The cynical assumption is that they will be used  by groups within certain communities to prevent development.

Changes to the Development Management system are less significant.

  • Expansion of delegation is something that was inevitable, but we are completely opposed to Certificates of Lawfulness being brought within the delegated system.  Taking decisions on these applications requires technical analysis of planning evidence and a full understanding of legislation and case law, and appeals require professional judgement, rather than the local political issues or expediency that often underlie Local Review Board decisions.  Training of Local Review Board councillors is a meaningless sop.
  • clarity in the duration of the Pre-Application Consultation process is welcomed,
  • we applaud the return to planning conditions specifying the duration of permissions, thus resolving a major fault in the 2008 Act.  This will restore the previous system whereby Section 42 applications can be used to extend the duration of a planning permission,
  • the provisions relating to fees are vague and are to be left to regulations.  We have recent experience of a planning authority taking an ad-hoc decision to ignore the Fees Regulations and charge much higher fees – we would be concerned if this became legally possible.  Again, the devil will be in the detail.

Some sort of Infrastructure levy was inevitable, given the financial constraints on local authorities.  This subject was brought into sharp focus last year by the Aberdeen City and Shire Strategic Development Planning Authority v Elsick Development Company Limited case.  We assume that there will be a mechanism which will allow planning authorities to avoid the “must be directly related to the development” requirement of the present Section 75 agreements. The Bill does not go into detail: it proposes enabling legislation.  The devil – yet again – will be in the detail.

Simplified Development Zones

Us older folk who have been kicking around the planning game for too long will remember the old Enterprise Zones, most of which comprised a Development Order granting planning permission for almost anything.  Such a laissez-faire approach would be completely politically incorrect nowadays (though very few major horrors resulted in the EZs).  We will be interested to see firstly if any planning authorities are prepared to forego their powers of control to speed up economic development, and then how radical they will be in removing planning controls.  We aren’t holding our breath!

PPD Planning advice throughout Scotland

 

Feb 172017
 
Places People Planning cover ppd logo

Government consultation on significant changes to the Scottish planning system

Client briefing note

The Scottish Government has published a consultation document “Places, people and planning”  which proposes further changes to the Scottish planning system.  These proposals originate from the Independent Review of the system which we described in our June 2016 News – click here to view

Some of these changes are significant, and will add to the difficulty, uncertainty and cost of gaining planning permission.

This is a brief overview of the proposed changes.  Some are in the form of proposals, others are suggestions on which comment is encouraged.

Further details of these changes can be discussed with John at PPD. 

 The deadline for making comments to the Government is Tuesday 4 April 2017

Development plans

Strategic Development Plans should be scrapped.   Instead, local authorities will have duties or powers to work together on defining regional priorities.

The National Planning Framework (NPF) and Scottish Planning Policy (SPP) should be part of the statutory development plan, or that both are given due weight in decision making through their local implementation.

Local development plans:

  • Scrapping main issues reports.
  • Requiring local development plans to be reviewed every 10 years, but with update provisions.
  • Removing the provisions for statutory supplementary guidance to form part of the development plan (but the document is confusing on this).
  • Establishing a statutory link between the development plan and community planning.
  • ‘Gatechecking’ of the plan by an independent reporter at an early stage before the draft plan is prepared.
  • Unresolved issues would still be dealt with by an examination, before the plan is ‘finalised’ (not sure if this means ‘adopted’ – the commentary on this is confusing).
  • Development proposals which could undermine the plan’s aims will only be supported following additional scrutiny.
  • Should planning permission in principle come with allocated sites within the development plan?  (posed as a question, not a proposal).
  • Allow communities to prepare local place plans that set out where development requirements can be met; and place a duty on planning authorities to adopt these plans as part of the statutory development plan if this requirement is met.
  • community councils given a stronger role in planning by introducing a new duty to consult them in preparing plans.
  • Encouraging the preparation of “Simplified Planning Zones” (SPZs) as an integral part of preparing the development plan. Community engagement such as charrettes would be required, and the requirement for a Public Local Inquiry to be held at the end of the process of preparing an SPZ would be removed.  The blanket restriction for SPZs in conservation areas would be removed.

Planning applications

  • Improve and clarify the statutory requirements for pre-application consultation for major and national developments, for example to require developers to hold more than one public meeting.
  • Removing the applicant’s right to submit a revised or repeat application at no cost if an application is refused, withdrawn, or an appeal is dismissed.
  • Expanding the range of planning applications which are subject to local review.
  • Making provision for a wider range of other consents to be delegated (and therefore subject only to local review).
  • Enhanced service standards or fast tracked applications where a higher fee is paid and accompanied by a processing agreement.
  • Could there be scope for decisions on major developments which accord with the development plan to be determined under delegated powers and therefore only able to be reviewed by the local review body? (posed as a question).
  • Should provisions be made to allow flexibility on the duration of planning permission in principle, by introducing powers to amend the duration after permission has been granted?

Fees

  • A revised (much higher) maximum fee.
  • Substantially increased fees in cases requiring retrospective planning consent.
  • Higher fees for applications relating to sites not supported by the adopted local development plan.
  • Charging for appeals and reviews of decisions.
  • Agencies who have a critical role to play in the development management process having the ability to charge fees (this would presumably cover council departments such as environmental health and roads, and national bodies such as SEPA, SNH, HES, Transport Scotland).
  • Discretionary charging, including for pre-application discussions.
  • Discretionary charging for establishing Simplified Planning Zones.
  • Removing the developer’s right to submit a revised or repeat application at no cost.
  • Removing provisions for recovering advertising costs and including these within a revised planning fee.
  • Arrangements for funding of relevant central government functions such as the  eDevelopment programme and other elements supporting operation of the planning service in Scotland provided by the Planning and Architecture Division.
  • Improving clarity and ensuring the fees structure is proportionate and reflects the types of development coming forward.

Permitted development

The following development types are proposed to be added to ‘permitted development’ – where planning permission is not required from a local authority:

  • Digital telecommunications infrastructure.
  • Development which helps to meet a wider commitment to reducing emissions that cause climate change. These could be wide-ranging and include different types of microgeneration equipment; installations supporting renewable heat networks; cycle networks, parking and storage; and facilities to support low carbon and electric vehicles.
  • Development which supports the resilience of the farming sector. This includes polytunnels and changes of use from agricultural buildings to housing.
  • Allotments and community growing schemes.
  • Changes to the use of premises within town centres to stimulate vitality.
  • Elements of development within the aquaculture sector.

Enforcement of planning control

It should be made easier for planning authorities to recover costs associated with taking enforcement action.

Financial penalties for breaches of planning control should be substantially increased.

Housing Land

The Government wants the release of more ‘development ready’ land for housing.

Being clear about how much housing land is required.  The Government believes that there is a need to change the way we plan for housing – too great a focus on debating precise numbers rather than delivering development and creating good quality places to live.

Encouraging the preparation of “Simplified Planning Zones” – see above.

Land Reform

The Government is determined to see more land across Scotland in community ownership and have set an ambitious target of reaching one million acres by 2020.

It wants to see a clear, accessible, effective and efficient system of legislation and policy which allows for the compulsory acquisition and purchase of legal interests in land and property for the public benefit.

It asks whether a development land tax approach could help to tackle the issues associated with sites being held in the hope of improved market conditions. Such an approach would require sites to be released or a tax paid.

Infrastructure Levy

The Government proposes that a new Planning Bill will include an enabling power to introduce a new infrastructure levy for Scotland, based on the following key principles:

  • It should be applied to most development types, with some potential exemptions.
  • Permission to adopt and put in place a charging mechanism is granted by Ministers based on the submission of a business case prepared by the planning authority/authorities.
  • The income from the charge should be collected locally.
  • The fund will not replace national level infrastructure investment, as defined in the Infrastructure Investment Plan and National Planning Framework.
  • The fund will not replace site specific contributions which are needed to mitigate the impacts of individual developments not covered by the levy and secured through Section 75 planning obligations or other methods.

 

 

 

 
PPD Planning advice throughout Scotland

 

 

Dec 162016
 
PPD December 2016 Scottish Planning News
 

Welcome to PPD December 2016 Scottish Planning News.
We wish all our clients and friends a Happy Christmas and a prosperous and successful new year.

Consultation on an increase in planning fees

 

The Government gave the development industry a Christmas surprise by publishing a consultation paper which advocates a substantial increase in planning fees.  The origins of this came from the independent review of the Scottish planning system which was published earlier in the year (see our June News), one of the suggestions from which was that fees for larger development proposals should reflect the fact that these applications require more staff time to process, and therefore should rise significantly.

It is noticeable that none of the more positive and creative suggestions of the Review appear to have been progressed so far.

The suggested new fees retain the ‘lower end’ of the present structure, but significantly raise the maximum fees.  However, there would be a lower ‘per unit’ rate per increment once the present maxima had been reached.  This table indicates the increases.  Fee rates not mentioned would not be the subject of an increase.

  Present fee Proposed fee
Planning Permission in Principle (PPP) applications £401 per 0.1ha up to £10,028 (maximum fee payable) £401 per 0.1ha up to £10,028

Thereafter, £100 per 0.1ha up to £62,500 (maximum fee payable)

Full applications –

Housing

£401 per unit up to £20,055  (maximum fee payable) £401 per unit up to £20,050 (50 units)

Thereafter, £200 per unit up to £125,000  (maximum fee payable)

Full applications –

Other buildings

£401 per 75 sq. m. gross floorspace up to £20,055 (maximum fee payable) £401 per 75 sq. m. floorspace up to £20,055 (3750 sq. m.)

Thereafter, £200 for each 75 square metres up to £125,000 (maximum fee payable)

Full applications –

Plant and machinery

£401 per 0.1 hectares up to £20,050 (maximum fee payable) £401 per 0.1 hectares up to £20,050

Thereafter £200 per 0.1 hectare up to £125,000 (maximum fee payable).

Full applications –

Change of use to dwelling houses

£401 for each additional dwellinghouse up to £20,055 (maximum fee payable) £401 for each additional dwellinghouse up to £20,050

(50 dwellinghouses)

Thereafter £200 per unit up to £125,000 (maximum fee payable)

Full applications –

Change of use: waste and minerals

£202 per 0.1 hectares up to £30,240 (maximum fee payable) £202 per 0.1 hectares up to £30,240

Thereafter £100 per 0.1 hectare up to £125,000 (maximum fee payable)

Full applications –

Change of use: other buildings or land

£401 Not stated (presume no change)

 

This marks a change in the approach to fee increases by the Government.  Previously, increases were to be justified by improved performance.  Statistics released by the Government in October (see www.gov.scot/Publications/2016/07/6839) showed that major developments (those which the fee increases will most likely affect), taking 13 weeks longer than the previous period.  The average decision time was 39.3 weeks, when the statutory time for a major application is 16 weeks.  The Government’s approach now seems to be to allow higher fees  first, then to expect better performance. 

This is just the start.  The consultation paper states: “We will be considering wider changes to the fee structure, including scope for further discretionary charging taking account of changes to the planning system flowing from the review”.  It also re-iterates the view of the Scottish Ministers “that any increase in fees must be linked to sustained improvements in performance”.

Full details of the consultation can be read at :

https://consult.scotland.gov.uk/planning-architecture/consultation-on-raising-planning-fees

Responses to the consultation must be in by 27th February 2017.

Plan too slow, housing supply too low

 

Several Local Development Plan examinations, after prolonged plan-preparation periods, have found that the proposed plan lacks the required “generous supply of housing land”.  Approval of the Edinburgh Local Development Plan in November by the Government brought these issues into sharper focus.  Significant quotes in the approval letter from the Minister for Local Government and Housing are:

“My decision not to intervene in this plan will enable its adoption and provide communities and investors with a greater degree of confidence about the future development of Edinburgh.  However this decision has not been made lightly, and I must stress my dismay at the very significant issues with timing and content that have arisen.”

“The City’s first LDP has been in preparation since 2011, yet it is only being adopted now.  Not only has the plan period been lengthy, but at the end of the process the Reporter has found that it contains a shortfall in the housing supply of over 7000 homes”

“In failing to provide an appropriate supply of land for housing, the opportunity for planning to support the continuing growth of Scotland’s capital city is being missed.”

“Significant changes late in the process reduces the transparency on which trust and confidence is built.”

“It is unacceptable that uncertainty is introduced by Council motions and late support for changes which are significantly different to the published Proposed Plan.  This effectively passes responsibility to others and falls short of provide a fair and transparent planning service to members of the public who have engaged in the process in good faith”.

Strong words!

West and East Lothian, the last Local Development Plans in Scotland to be prepared, are at last progressing towards examination stage.

 

PPD Planning advice throughout Scotland Homes For Scotland
Associate Member   
  
Jun 282016
 

Welcome to PPD June 2016 Scottish Planning News

Welcome to PPD June 2016 Scottish Planning News

We concentrate here on the independent review of the Scottish planning system, the findings of which were published last month (see below), and recent changes in Historic Environment Scotland (click HERE to go direct).

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

Independent review of the Scottish planning system:
“Empowering planning to deliver great places”

This review was commissioned by the Scottish Government last year and comprised a panel of three people:

  • Crawford Beveridge (chair of the Scottish Government’s Council of Economic Advisors and Non-executive Chairman of the Board at Autodesk Inc.).
  • John Hamilton, (Winchburgh Developments Ltd. and former Chairman of the Scottish Property Federation).
  • Petra Biberbach (Chief Executive of Planning Aid for Scotland and a Member of the Board and Chair of the Planning & Access Committee at Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park Authority).

The panel certainly gave value for their efforts, producing a detailed and fulsome set of forty-eight recommendations.

Quick read

We consider that the highlight recommendations are as follows.

  • Strategic development plans should cease.
  • The Local Development Plan preparation process should be simplified:
    • The main issues report should be removed and replaced with a single, full draft plan.
    • Removing or limiting the scope to produce supplementary guidance.
  • Local development plans should move to a 10 year cycle.
  • Development plan examinations should be replaced with a frontloaded ‘gatecheck’ of the plan.
  • The National Planning Framework should define regional housing targets.
  • Options for a national or regional infrastructure levy should be defined and consulted upon.
  • A development delivery infrastructure fund should be established, which could be partly resourced by a mechanism to capture land value uplift.
  • The certainty provided by the development plan in development management should be strengthened. To incentivise this, allocated sites should be afforded planning permission in principle, could be exempted from pre-application consultation requirements and could benefit from fast-tracked appeals.
  • Planning authorities should work together to identify the scope for significantly extending permitted development rights.
  • Planning fees on major applications should be increased substantially.
  • A new means of measuring service quality which builds on performance frameworks, and a mechanism for penalties such as a refund in the planning fee to be incurred where this is not achieved.
  • Scope for further discretionary charging, for example for pre-application processes, should be considered further.
  • The panel are not persuaded that third party rights of appeal should be introduced.

Commentary

We welcome the recommendation that the development plan should retain its primacy in the Scottish Planning system.  We suspect that few will mourn the recommended demise of Strategic Development Plans, subject to the National Planning Framework having an effective city-region content.  However, just as we are gradually achieving a 5-year cycle for Local Development Plans – and therefore that the plans are genuinely up-to-date, the recommended 10-year cycle would be a very retrograde step.

Our experience has been that Development Plan “Main Issues Reports” have not been a particularly useful element of the 2008 system, especially as many Councils have introduced a non-statutory earlier “call for sites” or other community-based stage; and therefore we agree with the recommendation to scrap them. Perhaps the later recommendation of early engagement with the entire “community”:  residents, developers, landowners, housebuyers, young people, etc; would be a more meaningful start to the process.

A check on the fervour of planning authorities to churn out Supplementary Guidance is very welcome.  There now seems to be a universal enthusiasm – started by Glasgow’s first City Plan some years ago – to provide guidance on every last detail of every possible development scenario.  In practice, this guidance is usually treated as policy!   Aberdeenshire now has Supplementary Guidance, and then further Guidance on how the interpret the Guidance!  All this Guidance – some may say ‘policy’ is enforced with far too little external scrutiny or examination.

In this regard, we are seriously concerned about limitations on development plan examinations.  This is the one occasion when plan-making is subject to independent scrutiny and its loss would have a serious impact on the ability to allocate sufficient land for the nation’s housing needs.

The recommendation that a development plan allocation has the status of Planning Permission in Principle is strongly supported.  This would focus attention on development plans as the prime vehicle for making land-use decisions, and prevent the situation where the principle of development on allocated sites is the subject of further debate at application stage.

Suggestions of a mechanism to capture land value uplift take us back to the 1948 Act which introduced a development charge or “betterment” to capture the uplift in land value which arose when permission to develop land was granted, even for small projects.  The effect was to bring a halt to most development, and its repeal shortly afterwards.

There is concern that infrastructure funding may move away from locally-justified requirements to a nationally-managed fund, which may not prioritize infrastructure investment in the locality of those paying the money.

We are aware that fees for major applications in Scotland are much lower than equivalent fees in England, but the Scottish fees were not similarly increased because it was felt that the time was not right to increase the burden on economic development.  Our view is that if fees are to be significantly increased, the recommended penalty system for non-performance should be imposed.

We support the extension of permitted development rights.  There are still far too many minor building operations that require planning applications: minor alterations to offices, factories, warehouses and shops come immediately to mind.

We are thoroughly relieved that the panel were not persuaded that third party rights of appeal should be introduced!

More detail

The significant recommendations, in our view are as follows.  The blue headings are the panel’s “outcomes” that the recommendations are designed to achieve.

Strong and flexible development plans

  • The primacy of the development plan should be retained, but focussed on outcomes, rather than policy and procedure.
  • Strategic development plans should cease.
  • An enhanced National Planning Framework should address long term city-region development and infrastructure issues more fully and effectively. The National Planning Framework should be more fully integrated with wider government policies and strategies.
  • The role of the Scottish Planning Policy (SPP) should be expanded to avoid the need for policy to be repeated in development plans. Local development plans should only set out where these policies are being varied to reflect local circumstances. Further consideration should be given to integrating the SPP with the National Planning Framework, with both being afforded the same statutory weight as the development plan.
  • The plan preparation process should be simplified.
    • The main issues report should be removed and replaced with a single, full draft plan.
    • The proportionality of supporting information, including environmental assessment, should be addressed.
    • Removing or limiting the scope to produce supplementary guidance.
  • Local development plans should move to a 10 year cycle, with a 20 year vision and focus on place, rather than policy.
  • Development plan examinations should be replaced with a frontloaded ‘gatecheck’ of the plan. Only after agreement is reached on key parameters for the plan, should a fuller, locally driven discussion on place and development sites move forward. Where early agreement is achieved there should be no need for further scrutiny or intervention at this later stage.

The delivery of more high quality homes

  • The National Planning Framework should define regional housing targets as the basis for setting housing land requirements in local development plans.
  • A clearer definition of effective housing land so that local development plans can move on from this to take a positive and flexible approach to addressing the housing land requirement for their area.
  • The Simplified Planning Zones concept should be rebranded and evolved into a more flexible and widely applicable zoning mechanism which identifies and prepares areas to make them ‘investment ready.’

An infrastructure first approach to planning and development

  • A national infrastructure agency or working group with statutory powers should be established, involving all infrastructure providers as well as planning representatives.
  • Options for a national or regional infrastructure levy should be defined and consulted upon.
  • A development delivery infrastructure fund should be established, which could be partly resourced by a mechanism to capture land value uplift.
  • A corporate structure requiring all key infrastructure providers to co-operate in delivering the local development plan should be introduced.
  • A review of transport governance should be undertaken to address the gap between this key aspect of infrastructure and development planning. Our view is that transport agencies at the national and regional scales should be given a clearer mandate to directly support the delivery of development in accordance with the development plan.
  • Future school building programmes should address the need for new schools in housing growth areas.
  • Section 75 planning obligations should be retained but their use should be minimised and the process streamlined.

Efficient and transparent development management

  • Timescales for decision making remain critical in creating certainty and should remain part of the performance monitoring framework. Processing agreements should be required for all major developments.
  • The certainty provided by the development plan in development management should be strengthened. To incentivise this, allocated sites should be afforded planning permission in principle, could be exempted from pre-application consultation requirements and could benefit from fast-tracked appeals.
  • The quality and effectiveness of pre-application discussions with planning authorities and consultation by developers should be significantly improved.
  • National guidance on minimum requirements for validation is required.
  • Planning authorities should work together to identify the scope for significantly extending permitted development rights.
  • A fuller study of the scope for combined consents, particularly planning, roads and drainage consents, should be carried out.

Stronger leadership, smarter resourcing and sharing of skills

  • Planning fees on major applications should be increased substantially, so that the service moves towards full cost recovery. A revised cap should be considered to better reflect the level of resource they demand. Local authorities must accept that all increases in fees must be directly linked with improved performance and that this will require investment in the resourcing of planning authorities. We also recommend a new means of measuring service quality which builds on performance frameworks, and a mechanism for penalties such as a refund in the planning fee to be incurred where this is not achieved.
  • Scope for further discretionary charging, for example for pre-application processes, should be considered further.

Collaboration rather than conflict – inclusion and empowerment

  • There should be a continuing commitment to early engagement in planning, but practice needs to improve significantly.
  • Communities should be empowered to bring forward their own local place plans, and these should form part of the development plan.
  • Community councils should be given a statutory right to be consulted on the development plan.
  • We are not persuaded that third party rights of appeal should be introduced.
  • A new statutory right for young people to be consulted on the development plan should be introduced.

Historic Environment Scotland

Historic Environment Scotland is the body formed last year which took over the functions of Historic Scotland and the Royal Commission on Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland.

It has now produced “HISTORIC ENVIRONMENT CIRCULAR 1” which describes the requirements of the secondary legislation and the processes to be adopted by the new body.  The contents are:

  1. General Principles
  2. Designation (of scheduled ancient monuments and listed buildings)
  3. Historic Environment Scotland’s role in the planning system
  4. Scheduled Monument Consent (procedures relating to applications)
  5. Listed building consent and conservation area consent (the process for applying for and determining applications for listed building consent and conservation area consent).
  6. Appealing decisions made by Historic Environment Scotland
  7. Transitional arrangements

See the full document at:

https://www.historicenvironment.scot/archives-and-research/publications/publication/?publicationId=ec209755-9bf8-4840-a1d8-a61800a9230d

It has also produced “HISTORIC ENVIRONMENT SCOTLAND POLICY STATEMENT”.  This replaces the previous “Scottish Historic Environment Policy” with updated operational policy and legislation, so SHEP becomes HESPS!  The content of the new HESPS is very similar to SHEP.

It is stated that the document guides the operation of decision making in the Scottish planning system, and sets out how Historic Environment Scotland fulfils its regulatory and advisory roles and how it expects others to interpret and implement Scottish Planning Policy. It is a material consideration in the Scottish planning system.

See the full document at:

https://www.historicenvironment.scot/archives-and-research/publications/publication/?publicationId=f413711b-bb7b-4a8d-a3e8-a619008ca8b5

Put simply, Circular 1 says what the policies and procedures are, and HEPS says how they will be interpreted and implemented.

Fundamental operational review

Historic Environment Scotland is developing a detailed plan for engaging the sector in a fundamental operational review of how it undertakes its regulatory activities with a view to a longer term amendment or replacement of this policy statement as required. They will be providing further information on this shortly and will commence the process in the summer.

 PPD Planning advice throughout Scotland   Homes For Scotland                              Associate Member

 

 

 

May 012015
 

 

PPD May 2015 Scottish Planning News

Welcome to PPD May 2015 Scottish Planning News

The main activity over the last six months has been examination and adoption of the new Local Development Plans, and appeals against housing planning applications where development plans are out-of-date.

We examine HERE recent appeal decisions where reporters have treated the failure of a planning authority to adopt an up-to-date development plan as a “material consideration”, and where the Scottish Ministers have “recalled” appeals for their own determination because an inadequate supply of land for house building is an issue of “national significance”.

With the new Scottish planning system reducing the duration of a planning permission to three years, and the removal of the ability to use Section 42 to extend permissions which are approaching their expiry date, we look HERE at some decisions and case law concerning what actions are required to “commence” a development.

In the last news we mentioned the new “High Hedges” legislation.  The extent to which disputes over high hedges occur can be seen by the number of appeals which have ended up in the casework of the Scottish Government’s Directorate of Planning and Environmental Appeals (DPEA).  See HERE for a brief account of this sad and unfortunate modern suburban version of the “stairheid rammy” (to use the Glasgow vernacular).

We take a quick look at recent permitted development changes in England 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

Housing land decisions

The Scottish Government’s “Scottish Planning Policy” (SPP) requires that the planning system be “plan-led, with plans being up-to-date and relevant”.  It also requires that that the system identifies a “generous supply of land for each housing market area ……… maintaining at least a 5-year supply of effective housing land at all times”.

Both these requirements have been found lacking in some recent planning appeals. 

Normally, planning appeals are dealt with by a Reporter from the Government’s Directorate of Planning and Environmental Appeals (DPEA).  However, the Scottish Ministers have the right to “recall” appeals for their own determination.  In the past, such recalls were very unusual and tended to concern very controversial major developments of national interest.  However, in December eight appeals concerning housing developments of between 50 and 670 units were recalled by the Scottish Ministers.  Alex Neil, Cabinet Secretary for Social Justice, Communities and Pensioners’ Rights, explained that delivery of housing was a matter of “national significance”.

In the first case, planning permission in principle was refused by East Lothian Council for a housing development of 52 units. Being within the green belt and not in a strategic development area, it was considered to be contrary to the Development Plan.  However the appellant argued on appeal that the 2008 Local Plan was out of date, and that the more recent Strategic Development Plan gave the area “potential for strategic development”. The Reporter agreed that the 2008 Local Plan was out-of-date, and therefore the Strategic Plan should prevail. The site would contribute to addressing the significant shortfall in the five-year housing land supply. Other “interim” council documents that were evidence for the refusal were found to support the proposal (!), others were “illogical” and were given no weight in the appeal.  He therefore recommended to the Minister that the appeal be sustained and planning permission granted – with which the Minister agreed.

In the second case, the appeal concerned City of Edinburgh Council’s failure to determine a planning application for up to 368 houses within the prescribed statutory period.  The council’s position once the appeal was submitted was that planning permission should be refused, because the proposal was contrary to the Local Plan, the Strategic Development Plan, and the emerging new Local Development Plan, and is in the green belt.  The appellant argued that the Local Plan was out-of-date because there is a 40% shortfall in the 5-year housing land supply, and was in a strategic development area in the Strategic Plan.  The Reporter agreed that the Local Plan was out-of-date because there is a significant shortfall in the 5 year supply of effective housing land, and accepted that the site was capable of being effective.  He considered that the development met important Strategic Development Plan green belt and housing land supply policy criteria for the release of greenfield land, and met other environmental and infrastructure requirements.  His recommendation that the appeal be sustained and planning permission granted was accepted by the Minister.

Six further “recall” decisions are awaited in the near future.

Conclusions:

  • Development plans need to be up-to-date, both in terms of their five-year lifespan, but also in terms of the maintenance of a generous supply of effective housing land.
  • Interim council documents which are intended to ‘fill-the-gap’ created by an old plan and which frequently are not subject to any effective examination, can be of limited relevance in decision making.
  • In cases where there is a pressing need for new housing in a location identified in the Strategic Plan, other policies such as green belts have lesser relevance.
  • Read all the documents which are claimed to support refusal of a planning permission. It is significant that a Reporter agreed that an apparently negative policy document in fact supported the development, and another was “illogical”!

When does a development start?

Reduction in the duration of a planning permission to three years and the removal of the ability to use applications under Section 42 of the Planning Act to extend permissions which are approaching their expiry date, are two provisions of the new Scottish planning system the effect of which are now being felt, just as the economy is improving and builders are stepping up the delivery of new homes.  These issues have already been discussed in previous issues of this News.

Other than submitting a new application (with possible pre-application consultation, fees, uncertainty, etc), the only way to protect a planning permission now is to ensure that the works start before it expires.  A recent appeal has considered what works constitute commencement or “initiation” of the development. 

It is often said that as demolition of buildings does not normally require planning permission in itself (Permitted Development Class 70), site clearance is not sufficient evidence of commencement (as it could be done even if the permission did not exist). This appeal puts a different interpretation on this issue.

East Lothian Council had served enforcement action on a builder who, it claimed, had started a development after expiry of the planning permission.  The Reporter gave careful consideration to the appellant’s claim that demolition of the buildings on the site, and works to form a roadway had started before expiry.  As regards demolition, he pointed out that the development could not be implemented without the removal of a building, and that as Class 70 (3) (b) “excludes” the need for prior approval where a building needs to be demolished to implement a planning permission, he confirmed that it was a “necessary part of the development”.  Section 27(1)(a) of the Planning Act states that if development consists of carrying out operations, it shall be taken to be initiated when those operations are begun, while section 27(2) defines this as the earliest date on which any material operation comprised in the development begins to be carried out. Section 27(4)(b) includes “any work of demolition of a building” as a material operation in the meaning of this section. The Reporter was therefore satisfied that, even though it may not have been specifically referred to in the application, the demolition was a necessary part of the development possibly within the “associated works” in the description which, if it was begun before the expiry date, would have implemented the planning permission.

As regards the road, kerb footings had been laid to define the line of the new road. The Reporter referred to the case of Malvern Hill District Council v Secretary of State for the Environment and Another (1983), in which the marking out of a road was sufficient to constitute a specified operation: the judgement referred to found that very little need by done to satisfy the section.

The other evidence that work has commenced is compliance with suspensive conditions, i. e. those that have to be discharged before works start. Another interesting outcome of this case was that the Reporter decided that a condition requiring the submission of information on contamination was satisfactorily discharged by the inclusion of this information in a building warrant application.  The judgement of R v Basildon Homes ex parte Martin Grant Homes Limited (1987) was cited as applying to planning officers who, in this case, should have been aware of the application for a Building Warrant and of its approval, particularly when it covers details specifically required by a planning condition.

In practice, an obstacle to starting the development may be the need to discharge onerous pre-start conditions. If these are not discharged, a Council will refuse to issue an “Initiation of Development” Notice, which is now a requirement of the planning system before works start on site.  A work of caution though: such a Notice is not in itself confirmation that works have started – the physical works are also necessary. 

Conclusions:

Firstly – before permission is granted, if there is any likelihood that a development will not be started within the three year duration (or all phases of a Planning Permission in Principle will receive Conditions Approval and be started within three years), we recommend that you request that the planning authority direct that planning permission be granted for a longer period.  This is a perfectly legal action, and one which some planning authorities are prepared to do.

To effectively protect a planning permission any pre-start conditions must be discharged, the required “Initiation of Development Notice” submitted to the planning authority, and physical works commence.  These works could be limited to preparations for laying a site access, but should be documented by dated photographs.  Although it has not yet been tested in court, we assume that the “initiation of Development Notice” alone will not be sufficient evidence.

We are hearing of cases where Councils are still allowing use of Section 42 to extend the duration of permissions, in cases where a specific condition on the permission defines the duration of the permission (i.e. not merely relying on the “standard” condition applied by the Act before it was amended).  Some such conditions were imposed by Councils long after the legislation change. We are also aware of a Council (which shall remain nameless) which has validated an application in these circumstances, and where the time limit stated in the condition had already expired!

High hedges .. .. ..

Introduction of high hedges legislation was reported in the last News.  What comes as a surprise is the number of High Hedges appeals that can already be found in the casework of the Scottish Government’s Directorate of Planning and Environmental Appeals (DPEA).

It will be recalled that those on whom a “High Hedge” notice is served (an “enforcement” appeal), and those who receive an opinion from the Council that a nuisance hedge is not within the definition of a “High Hedge” (a “consent” appeal), can appeal to the DPEA.

By a long margin Stirling Council leads in appeal cases, but this is influenced by a single hedge where 10 High Hedge notices were served (coming from 10 neighbours), and all were appealed. The Reporter’s decision ran to 12 pages on this case – longer than many planning appeals. Elsewhere, Perth & Kinross leads with 7 cases, South Lanarkshire, and Stirling (excluding the above) with 4 cases, then Dundee, North Lanarkshire and Dumfries + Galloway with three each.

The vast majority are enforcement appeals, and in most cases the High Hedge Notice is upheld, though often amended by the Reporter (changing the resultant height after pruning).  This gives confidence that Councils are correctly interpreting the High Hedges Act in their dealing with requests for notices.  In one case the Notice was quashed on appeal because the trees were a “woodland copse” rather than a hedge.

South of the Border

For those who dip their toes into planning affairs south of the Border, changes were made on 15th April to “Permitted Development Rights” (these are where the General Permitted Development Order “grants” planning permission for specified operations and changes-of-use, and permission is not therefore required from planning authorities).  From a Scottish viewpoint these are very radical changes.

The most significant of these include:

  • For a three year period, there is a right to change from storage and distribution use to residential – subject to prior notification.
  • Amusement arcades and casinos are able to change to residential, including some enabling works.
  • Shops and service uses can change to restaurants – including some extensions and extraction equipment – subject to prior notification; and also to assembly and leisure uses.
  • Betting offices and pay-day loan shops become “sui generis” (outwith the Use Classes, and therefore always require permission).

 

It is notable that the Scottish Government recently declined to make comparable changes regarding the last of these.

Development Plan progress at a glance

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

Development Plan progress at a glance  : April 2015

The second round of Strategic Development Plans are now emerging:  “ClydePlan” (formerly “Glasgow & the Clyde Valley”) completed Main Issues Report consultation in March, consultation on the TayPlan Proposed Plan runs from 11 May until 3 July 2015, and the SESPlan Main Issues Report is going to Committee on 18th May for consultation thereafter.

There are a number of significant Local Development Plan consultations in progress:

East Dunbartonshire:  Proposed Plan consultation closes on 27th May 2015.

Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park:  Proposed Plan consultation will run from Monday 18 May 2015 until Monday 29 June 2015

Midlothian:  Proposed Plan consultation will run from 14 May 2015 until 26 June 2015.

North Lanarkshire:  the Main Issues consultation period is extended to 29th May 2015.

Stirling:   Adoption of the Local Development Plan is subject to a challenge.  Main Issues consultation for the second Plan is due this summer.

 PPD Planning advice throughout Scotland   Homes For Scotland                              Associate Member 

 

 

 

 

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 162014
 

PPD May 2014 Scottish Planning News

Welcome to the PPD May 2014 Scottish Planning News

This issue concentrates on the new Local Development Plans, as a considerable number throughout Scotland are at the “Proposed Plan” or “Examination” stages: crucial for those involved in promoting or safeguarding the development potential of land.

The planning system in Scotland is now firmly rooted in the Development Plan.  There is now little chance of obtaining planning permission for the development of land unless it is covered by a relevant development policy in the Local Development Plan.  Even minor developments such as house extensions are likely to be tested against an array of policies and guidance. The planning officer’s report on a recent planning application in Glasgow cited twenty-six relevant policies.

Topics covered below are the Local development Plan process, click HERE; Housing Land Supply, click HERE;  What is in the Plan? Click HERE, Glasgow proposed Local Development Plan, click HERE; Local Development Plan progress at a glance, click HERE; and can I speak at the examination?, click HERE.

URGENT !   Is your planning permission about to expire?   Read more HERE

For previous newsletters click HERE.

The Local Development Plan process

When the new Scottish Planning system was introduced after 2006, all planning authorities had to start the process of preparing new-style local development plans.  While some were in the late stages of the old-style process and completed these plans, the vast majority started the process afresh, with the result that there are many plans which are roughly at the same stage in the process.

The statutory stages of preparing a development plan are : preparation, publication and consultation on a “Main Issues” Report, preparation, publication of a “Proposed Plan” followed by a consultation process, examination of the plan by a Reporter appointed by the Scottish Government, then adoption of the plan by the planning authority.  For good reasons, some councils have added extra stages :  an initial “call for sites” to developers and land owners, and a process for modifying the Proposed Plan to take account of consultation comments before it goes to examination.  All planning authorities are required to produce a “Development Plan Scheme” at least every year, which should include a Participation Statement stating when, how and with whom consultation on the plan will take place.

We remain disappointed by the slow progress in preparing local development plans.  Speeding up the process was one of the Government’s key objectives in reforming the planning system.  Several councils have used the need to await an approved Strategic Development Plan as an excuse, but other planning authorities have been equally slow in areas where there is no SPD.

Housing Land Supply

Housing land supply is one of the contentious issues in most plans.  The Housing Needs and Demands Assessment (HNDA) is the starting point, providing the evidence base for assessing the need for housing land. Councils seem to have learned lessons from the past where poorly-researched and structured HNDAs received stiff criticism from Reporters.  Where planning authorities can prove that their HNDA is consistent with the methodology recommended in “Scottish Planning Policy”, and where the Scottish Government’s Centre for Housing Market Analysis has confirmed that the process and methodology used in the HNDA were considered to be robust and credible, Reporters are unlikely to question any finding of an HNDA and will countenance no further debate.

However, the output of the HNDA represents only the first step in the process. The HNDA provides the evidential basis on which the subsequent stages, involving the preparation of a Local Housing Strategy (LHS) and the Local Development Plan, are grounded. The LHS is a statutory document which contains the Council’s strategy for meeting housing need and demand, investment in housing, and housing supply targets for all tenures.  As with the HNDA, it is evident that Reporters are reluctant to question the philosophy and content of an LHS which accords with Government guidance on the subject.

Translation of the HNDA and LHS findings into a generous “effective housing land supply”:  i.e. that will provide and maintain  “more than enough land to deliver the required housing during the five-year plan period, is where the greatest conflict arises.

We see Proposed Plans which :

  • Rely on sites that have been allocated over a number of previous plans but which have failed to deliver the anticipated houses,
  • Base the effective housing land supply on a small number of large sites which require heavy and collaborative infrastructure expenditure to achieve their development (see how slow the “Community Growth Area” concept in the West of Scotland has been to deliver houses on the ground),
  • Fail to include mechanism to allow small-scale sites to be identified and promoted for development,
  • Do not include a sufficient “flexibility” allowance to compensate for slow delivery from some sites (i.e. failing the “generous” test),
  • Make over-ambitious assumptions on “windfall” sites or the ability of Councils to intervene, such as by bringing existing empty houses back into use or by existing large houses being sub divided.

There have been suggestions that manipulation of figures takes place to artificially inflate the existing housing land supply, thereby reducing the amount of land that needs to be allocated.

It has also been suggested that councils fail to demonstrate how the requirement in SPP to ensure that a minimum of five years effective land supply is maintained at all times will be assessed and any shortfalls resolved.

We also note a failure by Reporters to challenge councils who narrow the definition of “affordable houses” only to social or public-rented stock, and not include a range of private-sector affordable housing initiatives.   We also see the blanket application of affordable housing requirements even in settlements which already have a high proportion of social-rented stock, with the result that affordable housing contributions become a tax on those who buy a house, rather than a way of providing lower-cost housing where it is needed.

We also see Reporters getting involved in site selection : being prepared to reject sites included in the Proposed Plan and choose others instead.  The recent Stirling plan is an example.

What is in the Plan?

Those familiar with the old Local Plans will know how enormous and verbose some were, full of policies and guidance on the most trivial minor matters.  The famous two-page “postman’s pouch” policy in Glasgow City Plan 1 was probably the most ridiculous example (the pouches are permitted development anyway!). The level of detailed micro-management in these plans had become completely disproportionate to the need for a policy context in decision-making.

Most Local Development Plans are now much shorter and focus on key policy matters.  If anything, the new Glasgow plan (see below) leaves too much out.  The concern is that leaving the detailed policy and guidance to supplementary documents means that the detail is not subject to the rigor of independent examination.  Our experience is that few councils are willing to make fundamental changes to their proposed planning guidance following consultation.

The key seems to be getting a balance between policy (that is either accorded with or not) and the range of subjects that need it; and guidance (opinion and advice).

Glasgow Proposed Local Development Plan

A significant step forward has been achieved by Glasgow City Council in producing a Proposed Plan of only 70 pages and 12 policies!   Previous Glasgow City Plans have been immense documents, and this volte-face to brevity is very welcome.

Content that immediately comes to attention :

  • The policies are of a general nature, and merely refer to forthcoming policy guidance for detailed application.  This is reasonable in principle, but the guidance has not been prepared and is not therefore available for scrutiny and challenge.  As can be said of Glasgow’s previous plans, “the devil is in the detail”.  By not presenting the guidance at this stage prevents its proper examination and challenge.  We are concerned that the same micro-detail found in the old plans will just be re-hashed in the form of guidance, free of effective challenge.
  • Over-worded and confusing policies, such as Policy CDP 5 Resource Management which ranges over several subjects.  This particular policy also crosses-over into matters that are the concern of Building Control legislation.
  • Reliance on Community Growth Areas and brownfield land for new housebuilding : acknowledging that there will need to be focus on securing the necessary infrastructure to allow progress in these locations, but not elaborating.  Our experience is that infrastructure costs can be ruinously expensive in developing CGAs.
  • The immense detail of the “green network” :  tiny sites are included, some in our experience may be as a means of frustrating development. It states that “The Open Space Map shows all open spaces within the City, including those protected, as open space, by planning policy”.   It is hard to work out the difference between an open space and a green network site, and whether an open space is protected or not.

We are in the process of analysing the plan’s detailed impacts on our clients’ interests, and welcome discussion on how the plan affects your development aspirations.

Local Development Plan progress at a glance

The following chart gives a shap-shot of development plan progress throughout Scotland.

Development Plan Progress in Scotland at a glance : May 2014

Some of the early Local Development Plans to be adopted were “hybrids” from the old system.  As with the old local plans, West Lothian is among the last lot.  North Lanarkshire were working on a local plan when the new system started, so continued that process to adoption in 2012.  They therefore started work on the new plan later than others, and to be fair some other councils  were still busy with nearly-complete old-style plans which they completed before starting new-style plans.

Can I speak at the examination?

Many people who have made representations on a proposed development plan would like the opportunity to address the Reporter directly. It used to be almost certain that such an opportunity would be granted by the Reporter, and an “inquiry” would be held at which most of the content of the Plan would be debated in detail, often with legal and counsel representation.  These inquiries often lasted over a month and were seen as one of the reasons that the process took so long.

The 2006 Planning Act and its associated legislation changed this by giving Reporters the sole right to decide what matters required verbal examination, and those that he / she could deal with using the written representations submitted on the Proposed Plan.   The assumption is that the Reporter deals with most matters on the written submissions only, but can decide if specific contentious issues need to be addressed by informal hearing or full inquiry sessions.  Our experience is that few topics are determined to need verbal examination, and those that do take the form of hearings.

Nevertheless if you wish to address the Reporter in a verbal session, it is still worth making the request.

Is your planning permission about to expire?

Nearly five years ago, on 3rd August 2009, various parts of the new Scottish planning system were enacted. The resultant changes that we are talking about here had the following impact :

  • Permissions granted on and after that date are valid for only three years, instead of five; and
  • The validity period is no longer a condition, and therefore cannot be extended by the mechanism for amending conditions (section 42 of the planning act).  A full explanation of this was given in our August 2013 News, see HERE

Planning permissions granted before 3rd August 2009 where the development has not started remain valid for five years, until 2nd August this year.  These permissions were granted with the standard five year time-limiting condition applied by the legislation in force at that time.

It is therefore still possible to seek extension of these permissions by means of Section 42, provided that the application is registered by the planning authority before 3rd August.   This applies to applications that are still valid at present : i.e. have not already expired.  Extension cannot be sought retrospectively.  If the development has started or will start before 2nd August – proven by submission to the planning authority of an “Initiation of Development Notice” – the continuing validity of the permission is secured.

PPD Planning advice throughout Scotland

 

Feb 062014
 

 householder permitted development

6th February 2012 is the day that the long-awaited revision of householder permitted development came into force.

Introduction

The new Order amends the “General Permitted Development Order” by modernising permitted development for householders, and has the effect of increasing the amount of development within the grounds of existing houses which will fall within the “permitted” categories. This goes back to the Government’s aim of reducing un-necessary regulation in the planning system and thereby focussing Council resources on more important development which has the potential for greater environmental impact.  Up until now, permitted development did not apply to flats, but the new Order now introduces limited permitted development to flats.“Permitted development” is minor development for which planning permission is automatically granted by the “General Permitted Development Order”, thereby removing the need to formally obtain planning permission.  It is usually minor works which are unlikely to have an adverse impact on neighbours or the environment.

Overview

The main changes include :This is an overview of householder permitted development – for detail call us, or look at the legislation (link below).  The Order is split into eleven separate classes, each of which has a list of “exclusions”.  Few of the permitted development rights apply in conservation areas and within the curtilages of listed buildings.

  • Enlargements of a house behind the “principal elevation” (which is the front or side wall fronting a road) often does not now need planning permission.  There are height limits, size curtailments near boundaries, and in terms of the amount of the overall curtilage taken up by the development.  Single and multi-storey extensions get separate classes.
  • Porches are an exception to the “principal elevation” rule mentioned above, which are now permitted up to a footprint of 3 sq. m; a height of 3m; and provided it is no less than 2m from a boundary that fronts a road.
  • Roof alterations are now permitted, with a number of exceptions which include not on front or side elevations that face roads, not on a roof plane which is within 10m of a boundary, not higher than the height of the highest part of the existing dwellinghouse (except chimneys), and not within 0.3m of the edge of the roof plane.
  • Access ramps are now permitted up to 5m in length, up to a combined height of 9m (including landings), any part cannot exceed 0.4m, and the overall height including fence, wall, handrail etc. cannot exceed 1.5m.  Like porches, these can be on the front of the house.
  • Other alterations to a house (without enlargening it) can be done within a 1m “bubble”.  For example, satellite dishes and solar panels will often not need permission.  There are exceptions such as wind turbines and balconies.
  • There are separate rules for decking, porches and driveways, and gates and fences.  Notable is that fences and walls can now be built up to 2m in height, or 1m in height in front of an elevation fronting a road or on a road boundary.  At long last the old 20m rule has gone!
  • There are some limited permitted development rights to alter and improve, but not enlarge flatted properties.

See the Order itself at :   http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ssi/2011/357/pdfs/ssi_20110357_en.pdf

 

February 2012

Jan 212014
 

January 2014 Scottish Planning Newsletter

Welcome to the PPD January 2014 Scottish Planning Newsletter

Recent headline events are :

  • Scotland’s third National Planning Framework goes for Parliamentary approval   Click HERE to read more.
  • The Government have issued a position statement on the emerging Scottish Planning Policy.  Click HERE to read more.

Can you lose a development plan allocation?   –  Yes, going by a recent case.  Click HERE to read more.

Click HERE for an update on progress with Scotland’s local development plans.

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

Scotland’s Third National Planning Framework

Scotland's Third National Planning FrameworkThe Government has published its proposed new National Planning Framework (NPF) for consideration by Parliament :  “Ambition – Opportunity – Place”.

The NPF sets out the Government’s framework for the spatial development of Scotland over the next 20-30 years. Last summer, it consulted the public on the “main issues” on which the new NPF would be based, and that document gave a flavour of the new NPF.

The document contains a four-part vision, and for each describes action today, tomorrow and the spatial strategy and priorities for change.   The four parts are : 1 : “a successful, sustainable place” , 2 : “a low carbon place”, 3 ; “a natural, resilient place”,  and 4 ; “a connected place”.

Each spatial strategy includes the relevant National Developments.   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.

The 14 National Developments are as follows.

Vision part N.D.
No.
Development Comment
1 1 Ravenscraig New in MIR
1 2 Dundee Waterfront : support the delivery of large-scale proposals required for the transformation Dundee. New in MIR
2 3 Carbon Capture and Storage Network and Thermal Generation :  support the delivery of a CC+S network to establish Scotland as a centre of expertise in this technology. Varied from MIR
2 4 High Voltage Electricity Transmission Network : to support the delivery of an enhanced high voltage electricity transmission grid. From NPF 2
3 5 Pumped Hydroelectric Storage : increasing the capacity through new or expanded sites (Cruachan specifically mentioned). New (not in MIR)
3 6 Central Scotland Green Network :  support the delivery of a step change in the quality, accessibility, biodiversity and adaptability of the Central Scotland environment. From NPF 2
3 7 Metropolitan Glasgow Strategic Drainage Partnership : contribute to the delivery of infrastructure required for water resource and drainage management on a broad scale within the Glasgow city region. From NPF 2
3 8 National Long Distance Cycling and Walking Network New in MIR
4 9 High Speed Rail :  First phase Edinburgh – Glasgow; then connection to London. From NPF 2
4 10 Strategic Airport Investments : operational developments at the five main Scottish Airports and business development adjoining Glasgow, Edinburgh and Prestwick; relocation of Royal Highland Showground. Varied from NPF 2
4 11 Grangemouth Investment Zone Varied from NPF 2
4 12 Freight Handling Capacity on the Forth : new and expanded freight handling facilities, with road and rail links; at existing and disused ports on the Forth estuary. Varied from NPF 2
4 13 Aberdeen Harbour New in MIR
4 14 National Digital Fibre Network : broadband cabling focussed on the Highlands and Islands. New (not in MIR)

MIR :  Main Issues Report (on which consultation took place last summer).

Developments which have not been carried over from NPF 2 to NPF 3 :

Replacement Forth Crossing Under way
West of Scotland rail enhancements Complete
Port development on Loch Ryan Removed without explanation
Scapa Flow container transhipment facility Removed without explanation
New power station and transhipment hub at Hunterston Removed without explanation
2014 Commonwealth Games Under way

Notable additions are Carbon Capture and Storage, a concept that the Westminster Government appear to have gone cold on; regeneration of Ravenscraig and Dundee Waterfront, both of which have appear to have stalled in recent years. The scope of “national development” at the central Scotland airports is broadened to adjoining commercial development.

The proposed NPF 3 will now be scrutinised by four Parliamentary Committees, a process that could take three months.  The Government intends to publish the finalised document in June.

Scottish Planning Policy position statement

Scottish Planning Policy (SPP) is the other key document that, with the NPF (see previous section), sets the framework for development across Scotland.   The SPP sets out national planning policies which reflect Scottish Ministers’ priorities for the development and use of land: it informs the content of development plans, decisions on planning applications and appeals, and how proposals are developed from conception to implementation. Over the last year, the Government has been consulting on a review of SPP.

Unlike the NPF, SPP does not require to be approved by Parliament.  However, given the important linkages between the two documents Scottish Ministers announced in September 2013 that both documents would be finalised in June 2014. This will enable the Parliament’s views to be taken into account where they are relevant to the SPP rather than to the NPF.

To ensure that there is consistency between the documents and to support Parliament’s consideration of the NPF, the Government has now published a “position statement” on progress with the new SPP.  This contains a response to all the issues that have been raised during the consultation – described as “considerations”, of which the following are significant.

A presumption in favour of development that contributes to sustainable development

This would include replacing the Draft SPP principal policies on Sustainable Economic Growth and Sustainable Development with a principal policy on sustainability and planning therefore showing the concepts as compatible.

Amended wording to give ‘due weight to net economic benefit’

That development plans reflect the presumption to reinforce the plan-led system; and that the presumption applies to decisions on planning applications if local development plans are out-of-date or do not contain relevant policies.

Reinforcing that community engagement it is a crucial aspect of the planning process

Reinstating the existing policy that the design requirements for placemaking are material considerations that may solely influence decision making

Delivery of Residential Development

This includes retaining a definition of generous land supply, providing a clear steer on the geography at which SDPs should express housing supply targets, and an appropriate policy on identifying a 5-year effective land supply.

Can you lose a development plan allocation?

The extent to which planning decisions are influenced by an emerging new local development plan has been in the news recently.  The case of land owned by the Pilkington Trust at Huntingtower west of Perth, comes as a reminder that a development allocation for a particular use in an adopted plan does not necessarily continue into a new plan.

The formal stages of local development plan preparation in the new Scottish planning system are Main Issues, Proposed Plan, Examination, and Adopted Plan.   To these, most Councils have sensibly added an initial “Call for Sites” stage, sometimes followed by a consultation exercise; and in some cases a draft “Proposed Plan” can be seen before the council or committee meet to approve it.  Some Main Issues Reports indicate which sites are likely to be favoured for development allocation.  By the Proposed Plan stage it should be beyond doubt what the Council’s attitude is to the development of any piece of land in its area.

At what point do such indications have a bearing on planning decisions?   The traditional view was that no content of the plan ought to influence decision-making until it has been exposed to the rigours of public examination, but a recent case has questioned this.

The background

In the case of Pilkington v The Scottish Ministers, a site beyond the western perimeter of Perth was allocated for development in the adopted Local Plan and an application for its development recommended for approval by the officers.   However the Council’s Development Control Committee rejected that advice for the reason that the application boundary (but not the proposed development area shown on the masterplan) extended beyond the allocation boundary, and refused the application.

A few days after taking this decision the Council met to consider the draft Proposed Local Development Plan (LDP), which – like the adopted plan – designated the land as a housing allocation.  At the meeting the Council approved the Proposed LDP but re-allocated part of the land from housing to employment use, the remainder becoming unallocated.  Two alternative sites were added into the Proposed LDP as strategic housing sites in compensation.

Appeal decision

In the subsequent appeal against refusal of the planning application, the reporter found that the emerging LDP was a material consideration and that the appeal proposal’s conflict with it justified departure from the adopted development plan. She found that other matters – such as flooding and traffic impact – had been the subject of agreement between the Council and appellant and could be addressed by conditions and legal agreements.  Nevertheless she dismissed the appeal for the reasons that :  “conformity with the development plan is outweighed by conflict with the emerging local development plan. I also conclude that it would be premature to grant planning permission in principle for the appeal proposal in circumstances where the local development plan examination is likely to start in 4 months”.

Court of Session

In an appeal to the Court of Session, it was submitted that the reporter’s decision was irrational since the existence of an emerging LDP was not of itself a reason to refuse planning permission. Since the proposed LDP had no formal status within the planning system prior to adoption, to take it into account was contrary to the government’s plan-led policy. To place weight upon it in preference to the provisions of the relevant adopted local plan was contrary to the terms and spirit of section 25 of the 1997 Act.  While it was conceded that there could be situations where an emerging development plan could be taken into account in a planning decision, it was submitted that the land’s removal from the housing allocation of the proposed LDP was done without prior consideration and with no reason given within the minutes of the meeting, and that the removal of the appeal site from the proposed LDP was no more than a consequence of the refusal of planning permission by the planning authority.

In his opinion on the case, Lord Armstrong considered that the Reporter had been entitled to consider whether the proposed LDP was a material consideration.  He was satisfied that the reporter was entitled, for the purposes of her decision, to consider the Proposed LDP to be the planning authority’s “settled view”.  The reporter had correctly considered the other infrastructure issues and attached appropriate weight to them.

Conclusions

Several important conclusions can be drawn from this.

It cannot be assumed that just because a site is allocated for a particular type of development, it will continue to have the same allocation in a new plan.

Taking this further, it cannot be assumed that even if a site is identified in the pre-plan stages and even in a consultation draft “proposed” plan, that it will automatically appear in the adopted plan.   In the Pilkington case, despite already being allocated and continuing to be so in the consultation draft stages, the Council decided to remove it before the Proposed Plan was published.

Land owners and developers should secure planning permission for allocated land before a Council has a chance to reconsider it!   Don’t rest assured that it has an enduring development plan allocation.

The case serves as a reminder that the Court of Session considers whether the process was carried out properly, and not the merits of the decision: as required by section 239 of the Planning Act.  In this case Lord Armstrong found the Reporter had carried out the necessary considerations and made a judgement as to their importance in reaching the decision; and therefore she had correctly performed her duties and her decision could not be challenged.

And finally – if you have an interest in the development of land, keep a very close watch on progress with the Local Development Plan.

We understand that a further appeal is now under way.

Development plan updates

Main Issue Report consultation is underway at Aberdeenshire (closes 1st February), and Aberdeen City (closes 24th March).

Proposed Plans are out for consultation at Clackmannanshire (closes 24th January) and Scottish Borders (closes 3rd March); while Moray Council meet to consider its Proposed Plan on 29th January so the consultation will follow afterwards.

Plans at the examination stage are Cairngorms NP, Dumfries & Galloway, Inverclyde, North Ayrshire, Orkney, Perth & Kinross, Renfrewshire, Shetlands, South Ayrshire, South Lanarkshire and Stirling.

Adoption :  Dundee adopted its Local Development Plan on 5th December.   This is the first plan that has completed the full “new” development plan process to reach adoption (one or two were hybrids from the old system).

Coming soon :   East Lothian MIR; Edinburgh – a revised or modified Proposed Plan; Falkirk Proposed Plan to Scottish Ministers;  and a “Call for sites” expected for Loch Lomond and the Trossachs NP.

Aug 062013
 

August 2013 Scottish Planning Newsletter

Welcome to the PPD August 2013 Scottish Planning Newsletter

Recent headline events are :

  • An end to extending the validity of planning permissions?   Click HERE to read.
  • More legislation changes.  Click HERE to read.
  • SESPlan approved : but without housing!    Click HERE to read.

Recent appeal decisions emphasise that those wishing to develop their land must have it allocated for the intended use in the Local Development Plan.   It is now almost impossible to obtain a planning permission which does not accord with an up-to-date plan.   For our regular review of development plan progress across Scotland with some comment, click HERE.
Other information is available on our website, click HERE.    For previous newsletters click HERE.

Extending the validity of planning permissions: no longer possible?

From time immemorial it has been possible to extend the period during which a planning permission is valid by use of an application under “Section 42” of the present planning act – the mechanism used to amend planning conditions.   Such an application was used to amend the time-limiting condition applied automatically to all planning permissions by the various planning acts, and had to be done before the period of validity expired (previously five years, now three).

A Section 42 application had the attraction that the planning authority could only consider whether it was reasonable to grant such a time extension, and therefore could not re-consider any other aspects of the permission.  Provided that relevant development plan policies had not changed to such an extent that the development had become “contrary to the development plan”, it has been our experience that such applications were granted with little controversy, and very little effort on the part of planning authorities.
With the economic downturn making it harder for developers to start development (or all phases of a development) within the lifetime of a planning permission, compounded by the reduction in the period of validity from five years to three, applications to extend validity have become far more common than in the past.  We have received several such approvals this year alone.

However a group of Scottish planning authorities are now citing a little-known change in the 2006 Act to reject such applications.   The three-year time limit still applies (section 58 of the Act as amended), but the wording of subsection 1 removes reference to this being a condition.  These authorities claim that as the time limit is no longer a condition, it cannot be amended by Section 42.

Subsection 2 of section 58 introduced a new concept : that if a council wishes to vary the standard validity period, it should do so by issuing a “Direction” at the time of approval.  The view is that Section 42 does not now apply to the statutory time limit, or to a council “Direction” – because neither are conditions.  To add confusion to all this, subsection 3 tells us that such a “Direction” is to be treated as a condition in respect of the right of appeal!

The Act does not advise whether a council would be able to amend such a “Direction” after approval while the permission is still valid.

We await the view of our legal friends to all this with interest!

Our best advice to those submitting planning applications for complex developments is to carefully consider whether the development can be started within three years.  If there is any possibility that this will not be achieved, a request should be made to the council before it approves the application that it “Directs” that planning permission be granted for a longer period.  A number of Councils have already granted Planning Permissions in Principle for major developments which are valid for much longer than the statutory period: we are dealing with a 15-year PPP in Edinburgh at present.

More new legislation changes

The Government has now enacted the changes that were the subject of consultation last year, and made other minor changes.  Those of greatest interest are :

  • changes to avoid the need for newspaper advertising where neighbouring land has no premises to which notification can be sent, i.e. where neighbouring land is a road or is owned by the planning authority, or the proposal is “householder development”,
  • it is now a requirement that neighbouring land owned by the applicant be identified : the so-called “blue line” land,
  • Councils cannot now claim that a public road bordering a site is “neighbouring land on which there are no buildings”.  Amazingly, some were actually arguing this!
  • consultation is now required by planning authorities with Network Rail on planning applications within 10 metres of a railway line,
  • Reporters are now given discretion in handling minor pieces of additional information at appeals,
  • Extending the period for determining local reviews sought on the grounds of non-determination from 2 to 3 months (before the automatic deemed refusal of permission applies),
  • the appeal procedures in relation to advertisement control have been brought in line with the main procedures for planning appeals (i.e. appeals must be submitted within three months of the council’s decision),
  • an “opt-in” procedure for interested parties to appeals where vast numbers of pro forma or petition style representations have been made,
  • “hearing statements” in appeals and local reviews must fully set out the case, and not just an outline of the case.

SESPlan approved : without housing!

The situation – never known before in our experience – has arisen with publication of the Government’s approval of the South-East Scotland Strategic Development Plan, but with housing land supply deleted from the plan.  The Reporters found that various aspects of SESPlan’s case were so unsatisfactory that in order to approve the plan, they had to defer housing land supply to further analysis and approval in Supplementary Planning Guidance.

This remarkable situation is explained by the Reporters in the following strident terms:

“Scottish Planning Policy confirms that a housing need and demand assessment should be used to provide the evidence base for defining housing supply targets and allocating land for housing in development plans”.

“The main concern raised in representations here relates not to the methodology used for the assessment, but to the decisions by the (SESPan) authority both to depart from the outcomes of that assessment, and also to delay to beyond 2024 the release of land for some 11,000 of the houses assessed as being required before then. Those decisions are not clear from the plan itself, but have been confirmed by the authority in its further submissions made in the course of this examination”.

“The authority does not accept the outcome of the housing need and demand assessment .. .. .. either for the SESplan area as a whole, or for any of the six constituent local development plan areas”.

“.. .. I find that the reasons given by the authority to justify departing from the outcome of the housing need and demand assessment are not related to any specific wider strategic economic, social or environmental policy objective”.

“I find that the approach adopted by the authority here is not consistent with its vision for the plan area. That vision is based on the role which it has identified for South-East Scotland as both the main growth area and the key driver of the Scottish economy. Failure to identify and allocate the land required to enable the assessed housing needs and demands of the area’s residents and households to be met is liable to hinder economic growth and dilute the area’s contribution to the Scottish economy”.

“However, failure either to identify the scale of the housing land requirements for each planning authority area for the periods to 2019 and 2024, or to ensure that sufficient housing land allocations are made in local development plans, will not assist”.

“I consider that, to be consistent with the requirements for any strategic development plan, as set out in Scottish Planning Policy at paragraph 72, it would be necessary to set out, for each local development plan area, what is the scale of the housing requirement for the periods 2009 to 2019 and 2019 to 2024. This plan does not do so, either explicitly or implicitly. In response to a request from me, the authority has been unable to provide the necessary information to enable me to recommend appropriate modifications to rectify this omission”.

The Reporters had to find a different method to deal with the situation, namely that supplementary guidance will be prepared to identify how much land requires to be allocated in each local development plan area.

The Government perspective of this situation is explained as :   “The Scottish Ministers would prefer SDPs to consider the likely contribution from the established supply (and potentially from windfall sites) and so arrive at a clear expression of the numbers of houses requiring new allocations in LDPs for each area. However the information does not exist to include this analysis in the plan at this late stage”.

Strong words!

Our concern with this result is whether the supplementary guidance will be subject to the rigorous independent examination it would have undergone had it been part of the Strategic Development Plan.

 

Other development plan updates

Strategic Development Plan coverage in Scotland is now Glasgow and the Clyde Valley, SESPlan and Tayplan all approved; and Aberdeen City and Shire with the Scottish Ministers.

The long wait for new local development plans in South-East Scotland is set to continue with housing land supply in the “SESPlan” Strategic Development Plan now waiting for production of a Supplementary Planning Guidance document (see above).  Midlothian has gone ahead with a Main Issues Report on which consultation ends on 31st August. At West Lothian (where the present adopted Local Plan took over ten years to produce and adopt), present best guesses for a Main Issues Report are November / December. East Lothian MIR expected in October.  HoweverScottish Borders Council is going ahead with a Proposed Plan consultation in the autumn, despite being in the SESPlan area.

In the West, several plans have now completed the Proposed Plan consultation stage, and – surprise, surprise – are progressing to the examination stage unaltered!  (Why bother consulting anyone?). My slight sympathy with councils is that if “notifiable” changes are envisaged, re-consultation is required under the new procedures.  Nevertheless, many councils managed to do a re-consult under the old system with “Pre-Inquiry Modifications”.   North Ayrshire got caught out by this and had to do a re-consult on late changes after the plan had been submitted to the Government for examination.

Fun at Dumfries and Galloway, where the Council deferred decision on the Proposed LDP consultation response report.  There has to be more consultation with councillors, including seminars; and a re-submission to committee by 20th September.

Clackmannanshire :  Proposed Local Development Plan, consultation expected in the autumn.

Glasgow : Proposed Local Development Plan expected to go to committee in October or November; consultation would then be in December.

North Lanarkshire :  “Call for Sites” closes on 27th September 2013.

West Dunbartonshire :  Proposed Local Development Plan going to committee on 14th August, with consultation expected from 27th September to 29th November.  If you have development interests in this area, note that the contents of the plan will be available on the Council’s website after committee approval in August.

© 2011 - 2020 Paton Planning and Development Webreturn