1 This report presents analysis of responses to a public consultation on reviewing and extending Permitted Development Rights (PDR). The consultation sought views on a proposed work programme and associated Sustainability Appraisal (SA) report for review of PDR. The final number of submissions received was 113, including 61 responses from group respondents and 52 from individuals.
The proposed work programme
2 A total of 101 respondents commented on the proposed work programme. Of these, 30 expressed broad support, 44 provided comments which criticised aspects of the programme or offered further suggestions of how this could be improved (the great majority being individuals, including 16 campaign plus responses) and 27 did not express a clear view on the work programme as a whole. Most of those providing comment, including those who expressed broad support, raised issues or suggested amendments to the proposed work programme. Several common themes were evident.
3 Some objected to any extension of PDR, suggesting that current PDR are already extensive and that recent additions to PDR have not have a significant positive impact on pressures for local authorities. Some third sector respondents saw a need to expand the work programme to incorporate a review of the General Permitted Development (Scotland) Order as a whole, including a suggestion that the GPDO includes development types that could hinder Scotland's net-zero emissions targets and that should be subject to greater scrutiny.
4 Some common issues were also highlighted in relation to the detail of the proposed work programme. This included concerns regarding potential extension of PDR to designated areas and heritage locations, and suggestions for other development types which could be considered for PDR including to support delivery of more homes in Scotland. A planning authority wished to see a review of prior notification and approval procedures alongside the review of PDR.
5 Comments on specific development types set out in the proposed work programme were most commonly focused on Phase 1, including digital communications infrastructure, agricultural developments and micro-renewables. However, some also commented on later phases of the work programme including town centre changes of use and householder developments (Phase 3), and district heating and energy storage (Phase 4). Comments on specific development types are considered in the main body of this report.
Accuracy and scope of information
6 A total of 74 respondents commented on the accuracy and scope of information set out in the SA. Of these, 20 expressed broad support, 18 provided comments which criticised aspects of the accuracy and scope of information described or offered suggestions as to how this could be improved, and 36 did not give a clear overall view. Those expressing support included a mix of planning authorities and other public bodies, planning/other professionals, private sector, third sector and individual respondents. However, most of those providing comment raised issues or concerns regarding the baselines set out in the SA. These were primarily related to specific development types, but some common themes were raised across the environmental, social and economic baselines.
7 Some respondents were of the view that some of the information set out in the SA is 'generic' rather than specifically related to the development types under consideration, and is based on assumption and broad assessment. These respondents wished to see more detailed information to inform the work programme, including suggestions that this should be done via the Post Adoption Statement.
8 Some suggested that the evidence base as set out in the SA includes out of data sources, including comments from other public bodies, private sector and third sector respondents. Some also noted that reference to legislation and wider policy objectives should be kept under review to ensure they remain current as the work programme progresses.
9 Several planning/other professional and third sector respondents raised concerns regarding the extent to which the SA baselines take sufficient account of potential impacts on Scotland's historic and cultural heritage. These respondents expressed a view that historic and cultural heritage is relevant across the environmental, social and economic baselines, and should be referenced by each.
10 Some respondents, primarily third sector organisations, referred to perceived gaps in the environmental, social and economic baselines as set out in the SA. This included: suggestions that the environmental baseline should recognise the pressure on biodiversity across Scotland and not only in designated areas; concern that some designations had been omitted from the environmental baseline; suggestions that further development of the environmental, social and economic baselines was required to support consideration of 'reasonable alternatives' to extension of PDR; and suggestions that the baselines do not include sufficient consideration of the potential impact of PDR on flood risk.
11 Comments on the information set out in relation to specific development types were most commonly focused on Phase 1, in particular agricultural developments and micro-renewables, although respondents also referred to later phases of the work programme. Comments on specific development types are considered in the main body of this report.
12 A total of 81 respondents commented on the predicted effects as described in the SA. Of these, 13 expressed broad support, 44 provided comments which criticised aspects of the predicted effects (the majority being individuals, including 16 campaign plus responses), and 24 did not express a clear overall view.
13 Most of those providing comment raised issues or concerns, including those expressing broad support for the SA description of predicted effects. The great majority of these issues or concerns related to specific development types. However, several common themes were also evident. Some themes were similar to those raised in relation to the accuracy and scope of information set out in the SA, including what were seen as out of date sources, and effects on historic and cultural heritage.
14 Other issues raised by respondents included suggestions that further consideration is required for potential cumulative effects of extending PDR, including how these can be assessed. Concerns regarding cumulative effects were primarily related to landscape and biodiversity, but some also referred to potential cumulative effects in relation to flood risk.
15 Some respondents raised concerns regarding how predicted effects are described throughout the SA. This included suggestions that, where predicted effects are significantly negative or are uncertain, consideration should be given to whether these development types are suitable for PDR. Others suggested that greater consistency is required in the language used to ascribe value to predicted effects, and that use of 'reversible' should be better qualified. Some also had difficulty reading between the main SA report and appendices to assess the significance of predicted effects. An other public sector respondent suggested that any such inconsistencies should be addressed in the Post Adoption Statement.
16 Comments on the predicted effects for specific development types were most commonly focused on Phase 1, and in particular digital communications infrastructure, agricultural developments and micro-renewables. Respondents also referred to later phases such as EV charging infrastructure and active travel (Phase 2), and householder developments (Phase 3). Comments on specific development types are considered in the main body of this report.
Mitigation and monitoring
17 A total of 75 respondents commented on proposals for mitigation and monitoring of predicted effects. Of these, 6 expressed broad support for the proposals, 23 provided comments which criticised aspects of mitigation and monitoring, and 46 did not express a clear overall view. Those expressing support included planning/other professionals and private sector respondents. However, a substantial proportion of those providing comment raised issues or suggested amendments to proposals.
18 Some common themes were evident across these comments. This included some of the themes noted in relation to the evidence baseline and predicted effects such as monitoring cumulative impact, mitigating effects on cultural heritage and concerns regarding the lack of mitigation proposals to address increased flood risk.
19 Some respondents felt that information provided on mitigation and monitoring proposals was very limited and incomplete. It was also noted that mitigation proposals did not include detail on implementation mechanisms, which were seen as a key factor in the effectiveness of proposals. In relation to monitoring, some suggested that, as a minimum, the SA should consider the role of existing regimes. It was suggested that mitigation mechanisms and monitoring proposals should be outlined more comprehensively in the Post Adoption Statement.
20 Respondents also expressed some concerns regarding what was seen as over-reliance on good practice guidance to mitigate the effects of PDR, including that good practice could have limited mitigation benefits if it cannot be implemented or enforced. Concerns were also raised regarding the potential benefits of prior notification/approval as a means of mitigating the effects of extending PDR. Some suggested that this 'intermediate' approach may cause confusion for applicants, and could undermine the benefits of extending PDR in terms of streamlining the planning process and reducing burden on planning authorities.
21 Comments on mitigation and monitoring proposals for specific development types were most commonly focused on Phase 1 including digital communications infrastructure, agricultural developments and micro-renewables, although reference was also made to later phases of the work programme. Comments on specific development types are considered in the main body of this report.
22 A total of 58 respondents took the opportunity to provide further comment on the SA report. Most of these reiterated points discussed earlier in relation to specific development types or common themes. This included consideration of cumulative impact (particularly on flood risk), effects on cultural heritage, and environmental impact for biodiversity and flooding.
23 Other points raised by respondents included suggestions that, if the overall approach to extending PDR is to deliver the expected benefits, it should result in consolidated legislation and guidance. This included specific reference to the opportunity to review the current prior notification/approval scheme to streamline the process.
24 Some referred to general principles that should shape consideration of which development types are suitable for PDR. These included reference to the potential need to limit PDR for development types where predicted effects are expected to be significantly negative, or where effects are unclear.
25 Several respondents highlighted the importance of ongoing consideration of issues raised by the SA, including more detailed mitigation and monitoring proposals, as part of the proposed work programme. This included a number of respondents specifically expressing interest in ongoing engagement with the Scottish Government as part of this process.