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Circular 4/1998 Completion of Development


Circular 4/1998


Completion of Whole Development

53. A condition requiring that the whole of the development permitted be completed is likely to be difficult to enforce. If a development forming a single indivisible whole, such as a single dwellinghouse, is left half-finished, it may be possible to secure completion by a completion notice under section61 of the Act. If, however, the reason for failure to complete is financial difficulties experienced by the developer, neither a completion notice nor the enforcement of conditions would be likely to succeed. In such circumstances, the only practical step open to the planning authority, if they wish to secure the completion of the development, would be to carry it out themselves following acquisition of the land. If a large development, such as an estate of houses is left half-complete, this may be due to market changes (for example, a shift in demand from four-bedroom to two-bedroom houses) and it would clearly not be desirable to compel the erection of houses of a type for which there was no demand. Conditions requiring the completion of the whole of a development should, therefore, not normally be imposed.

Completion of Elements of a Development

54. Conditions may be needed, however, to secure that a particular element in a scheme is provided by a particular stage or before the scheme is brought into use, or to secure the provision of an element of a kind a developer might otherwise be tempted to defer or omit. Thus it may be desirable to require that a new access to the site should be constructed before any other development is carried out; or, where an office scheme includes a car park, that the car park is completed before the offices are occupied; or, where the scheme includes both offices and housing, that the offices should not be occupied before the houses are complete. The approach adopted must, of course, be reasonable. Taking the last example, it could well be unacceptable to require that the houses should be completed before the offices are begun; this would be likely to be an unjustifiable interference with the way the development is carried out. Or, to take another example, it could well be unacceptable to demand that all the requirements of a landscape condition should be complied with before a building is occupied; this could involve the building lying empty for many months, since such a condition will often provide for a considerable maintenance period so that trees can become established.


55. Conditions may also be imposed to ensure that development proceeds in a certain sequence where some circumstances of the proposal, for example the manner of infrastructure provision, makes this necessary. A condition delaying development over a substantial period is a severe restriction on the benefit of the permission granted. If land is available for a particular purpose, its commencement should not be delayed by condition because the authority have adopted a system of rationing the release of land for development.


56. The Government is planning to publish a White Paper in 1998 setting out its new integrated transport policy. This will aim, for example, to offer genuine choice to the travelling public by promoting more integrated public transport systems and to address the problems of congestion and transport related pollution. New planning guidance and advice flowing from the new policy will be issued in due course and it is likely that this will have implications for the level of parking provision which it would be appropriate to prescribe in planning conditions. Subsequent paragraphs need to be read against this general background.

Parking, Public Transport, Walking and Cycling

57. Developments often generate extra traffic, usually in the form of haulage or delivery vehicles or cars of residents, visitors or employees. Unless this demand is minimal (as it might be, for example, in the case of some very small firms) and unlikely to cause obstruction, space may need to be provided for off-street parking. Any conditions specifying the number of parking spaces should be consistent with the development plan as well as transport policies for the area. They also need to be reasonable in relation to the size and nature of the development and to satisfy the tests referred to in paragraph12.

58. Normally a parking site separate from the road will be needed. In this case, conditions should ensure, where necessary, that space is provided for the turning of vehicles so that they do not have to reverse on to the road. Where the authority decides that it is appropriate to require the provision of car parking spaces on other land under the control of the applicant, the development must be readily accessible from the car park.

59. In certain circumstances, developers may enter into a planning agreement with the planning authority to provide off-site parking or to contribute to other transport measures directly related to the development, for example to assist public transport or walking and cycling. The provisions of such agreements should reflect Government policy as set out in SODD Circular12/1996.


60. Where a service road is needed as part of a large development for which outline permission is to be granted, it may be necessary to impose a condition requiring all access to the main road to be by means of the service road. If such a condition is not imposed at outline stage it may not be possible to secure the objective at a later stage (see paragraph42). Similarly, if it is desired that there should be no direct access on to a main road, or that access must be taken from a particular side road, a condition to that effect should be imposed on the outline permission, as without such a condition these restrictions could not normally be introduced when details are being considered.

61. A condition may require the provision or improvement of a service road or means of access even if such works are not included in the application, provided that they can be undertaken on the site in respect of which the application is made, or on other land which is under the control of the applicant, and relates to the proposed development. The condition should be framed so as to require the laying out or improvement of the means of access on the relevant section of the service road on defined land before the relevant buildings are occupied.

62. In considering the imposition of conditions concerning "access", planning authorities should bear in mind the definition of "road" in section277 of the Town and Country Planning (Scotland) Act 1997 which refers to the definition in section151 of the Roads (Scotland) Act 1984:

"any way (other than a waterway) over which there is a public right of passage (by whatever means) and whether subject to a toll or not and includes the road's verge, and any bridge (whether permanent or temporary) over which, or tunnel through which, the road passes and any reference to a road includes a part thereof."

Roads fall into 2particular categories- "public roads" and "private roads", defined in section151 of the Roads (Scotland) Act 1984. The former are those included in a list of public roads kept by the roads authority and such roads are managed and maintained by the authority. Private roads are those over which the public has a right of passage but whose maintenance is not the responsibility of a roads authority. Such roads are maintainable privately but they are not private in any other way. They are not included in the list of public roads but there is provision in the 1984 Act under which they can be added to the roads authority's list provided they are of adoptable standard. There is sometimes confusion as to what is a private road and that term is often associated in the public mind with, for example, driveways up to private houses. These are not "roads" in terms of the Roads (Scotland) Act as there is no public right of passage over them (anyone using them does so on the sufferance of the owner) and they are, in fact, private accesses. Planning authorities should ensure that prospective developers are fully aware of the significant difference between a private access and a private road. "Private road" marked on a plan indicates that the public will have a right of passage over the land comprising the road: the developer will be required to seek from the roads authority a separate written consent to build such a road and it must be constructed to the standard required by that authority.

Lorry Routing

63. Planning conditions are not an appropriate means of controlling the right of passage over public roads. Although negatively worded conditions which control such matters might sometimes be capable of being validly imposed on planning permissions, such conditions are likely to be very difficult to enforce effectively. It may be possible to encourage drivers to follow preferred routes by posting site notices to that effect, or by requiring them to use a particular entrance to (or exit from) the site. But where it is judged essential to prevent traffic from using particular routes, the appropriate mechanism for doing so is by means of an Order under section1 of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984.

Cession of Land

64. Conditions may not require the cession of land to other parties, such as the roads authority.


Contaminated Land

65. Land formerly used for many purposes, including industry and waste disposal can be contaminated by substances that pose immediate or long-term hazards to the environment or to health, or which may damage buildings erected on such sites. Contaminants may also escape from the site to cause air and surface or groundwater pollution and pollution of nearby land. The emission of gas or leachate from a landfill site may be particularly hazardous. In these circumstances, appropriate conditions may be imposed in order to ensure that the development proposed for the site will not expose future users or occupiers of the site, buildings and services, or the wider environment to risks associated with the contaminants present. Planning authorities should, however, base any such conditions on a site-specific assessment of the environmental risks which might affect, or be affected by, the particular proposed development. Conditions should not duplicate the effect of other legislative controls. The contaminated land should be remediated to a standard which is suitable for the proposed use.

66. If it is known or strongly suspected that a site is contaminated to an extent which would adversely affect the proposed development or infringe statutory requirements, an investigation of the hazards by the developer and proposals for remedial action will normally be required before the application can be determined by the planning authority. Any subsequent planning permission may need to include planning conditions requiring certain remedial measures to be carried out.

67. In cases where there is only a suspicion that the site might be contaminated, or where the evidence suggests that there may be only slight contamination, planning permission may be granted subject to conditions that development will not be permitted to start until a site investigation and assessment have been carried out and that the development itself will incorporate any remedial measures shown to be necessary.

68. Conditions might also be imposed requiring the developer to draw to the attention of the planning authority the presence of significant unsuspected contamination encountered during redevelopment. The planning authority may then require the developer to take further remediation action under public health duties. Further guidance on contaminated land is contained in NPPG10- Planning and Waste Management. PAN33- Development of Contaminated Land and PAN51- Planning and Environment Protection. A new regime for identifying and remediating contaminated land is being introduced through the provision of the Environmental Protection Act 1990, as amended by the Environment Act 1995. This uses a risk-based approach in identifying contaminated land and applies the polluter pays and 'suitable for use' principles. The role of the planning system in addressing contamination will continue alongside the new regime.


69. For projects subject to environmental assessment, conditions attached to a grant of planning permission may incorporate monitoring and mitigation measures proposed in an environmental statement where such conditions meet the criteria summarised in paragraph12. It may be appropriate to impose conditions on the grant of planning permission and in the light of the environmental assessment, to require a scheme of mitigation covering matters of planning concern to be submitted to and approved in writing by the planning authority before any development is undertaken. Again conditions should not duplicate the effect of other legislative controls. In particular, planning authorities should not seek to substitute their own judgement on pollution control issues for that of the bodies with the relevant expertise and the statutory responsibility for that control.


70. Noise can have a significant effect on the environment and on the quality of life enjoyed by individuals and communities. The planning system should ensure that, wherever practicable, noise-sensitive developments are separated from major sources of noise and that new development involving noisy activities should, if possible, be sited away from noise-sensitive land uses. Where it is not possible to achieve such a separation of land uses, planning authorities should consider whether it is practicable to control or reduce noise levels, or to mitigate the impact of noise, through the use of conditions or planning agreements. (See SDD Circular16/1973.)


71. Nature conservation and landscape quality can be important material considerations in determining many planning applications. Planning authorities should not, however, refuse permission if development can be permitted subject to conditions that will prevent damaging impacts on particular species, wildlife habitats or important physical features. Moreover, for some types of development, such as mineral workings, conditions can be used to provide, on completion of operations, a natural heritage asset. Conditions can also be used, for example, to require areas to be fenced or bunded off to protect them, to restrict operations or uses at or to particular times of the year, to safeguard particular views or to reinforce particular landscape features. The views of Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) will be particularly important in assessing the impact of development on the natural heritage of an area and in framing appropriate conditions.

72. Planning authorities should bear in mind that a number of areas valued for their landscape quality or nature conservation interest are afforded statutory protection. National Scenic Areas provide the national designation for landscape. For habitats, as well as national designations (primarily Sites of Special Scientific Interest), European Community Directives on nature conservation, most notably through Special Areas of Conservation under the Habitats Directive and Special Protection Areas under the Wild Birds Directive, are being implemented. A number of sites have also been designated under the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands of International Importance. Conditions affecting such areas will need to be consistent with the provisions applicable for their protection. Scottish Office Environment Department Circulars13/1991 and 6/1995 are particularly important sources of information and guidance.

73. Where the primary concern relates to land management or access to natural heritage resources, planning authorities should consider whether mechanisms other than those provided under planning legislation might provide the best means of securing their objectives. Countryside Management Agreements under the Countryside (Scotland) Act 1967 as amended by the Natural Heritage (Scotland) Act 1991 provide a mechanism for securing appropriate management of natural heritage assets. Access or Public Path Creation Agreements under the 1967 Act can be used to secure appropriate access for enjoyment of the natural heritage.


74. The appearance of a proposed development and its relationship to its surroundings are material considerations in planning decisions. While planning authorities should not attempt to use conditions simply to impose matters of taste, there will be circumstances where it is important to secure a high quality of design in a proposal if this is to make a positive contribution to a site and its surroundings and show consideration for its local context. This could involve, for example, specifying in conditions the use of particular design features such as materials or finishes. The appearance and treatment of the spaces between and around buildings is also of great importance. Similarly, planning authorities may wish to use conditions to ensure that important vistas are preserved or that landscape features are provided to improve the overall setting of a development.

75. Landscape design may raise special considerations. The treatment of open space can vary greatly and the objective should be to ensure that the intended design quality is achieved in practice. It is, therefore, especially important for the authority to give some advance indication of the essential characteristics of an acceptable landscape scheme- always bearing in mind that such requirements should not be unreasonable. It is of equal importance to ensure that the design proposals are reflected in the quality of works and materials in the final product. The design and implementation stages of landscape treatment may, therefore, be addressed more successfully by separate conditions, occurring as they do at different stages and under variable circumstances. The visual impact of a development will often need to be assessed as a whole and this may well involve considering details of landscape design together with other reserved matters.

Enforcement of Landscaping Requirements

76. To ensure that a landscape design scheme is prepared, conditions may require that no development should take place until the scheme is approved, so long as this requirement is reasonable. Enforcing compliance with landscape schemes can pose problems, since work on landscaping can rarely proceed until building operations are nearing completion. Only on permissions for a change of use would it be acceptable to provide that the development permitted should not proceed until the landscaping had been substantially completed. Where permission is being granted for a substantial estate of houses, it might be appropriate to frame the relevant condition to allow for landscape works to be phased in accordance with a programme or timetable to be agreed between the developer and the planning authority and submitted for approval as part of the landscape design proposals. Alternatively, the erection of the last few houses might be prohibited until planting had been completed in accordance with the landscape scheme. In relation to a permission for an industrial or office building, it would be possible to impose a condition prohibiting or restricting occupation of the building until such works had been completed.


77. Section159 of the Act places an express duty on the planning authority, when granting planning permission, to ensure whenever appropriate that adequate conditions are imposed to secure the preservation or planting of trees, and that any necessary tree preservation orders are made under section160 of the Act. When granting outline planning permission, the authority may consider it appropriate to impose a condition requiring the submission of particular details relating to trees to be retained on the site, such as their location in relation to the proposed development and their general state of health and stability. When granting detailed planning permission, conditions may be used to secure the protection of trees to be retained, for example by requiring the erection of fencing around trees during the course of development or restricting works which are likely to adversely affect them. The long-term protection of trees, however, should be secured by tree preservation orders rather than by condition. Such orders may also be expedient for the temporary protection of existing trees until details of the reserved matters are submitted and it becomes clear whether there is a need to retain the trees.

78. The planting and establishment of new trees may need work over several months or years and the authority may wish to ensure that they obtain details of those responsible for the management and maintenance of certain planted areas during that period of time. Where appropriate, a condition may require not just initial planting, but also that trees shall be maintained over a specified period of years and that any which die or are removed within that time shall be replaced.


Archaeological Sites

79. Monuments scheduled as of national importance by the Secretary of State are protected by PartI of the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979. Where its provisions apply, their effect should not be duplicated by planning conditions (see paragraphs19-21), although authorities granting planning permission in such circumstances are advised to draw the attention of the applicant to the relevant provisions of the 1979 Act.

80. Where, however, planning permission is being granted for development which might affect the setting of a scheduled monument or a non-scheduled monument or its setting, the planning authority may wish to impose conditions designed to protect the monument or its setting; to secure the provision of archaeological excavation and recording prior to development commencing; or, if the expectation of significant archaeological deposits is low, to ensure arrangements are made for a watching brief before and during the construction period. Further advice on archaeology and planning conditions is given in NPPG 5 Archaeology and Planning and Planning Advice Note42 Archaeology.


81. A condition may be imposed, where appropriate, requiring some feature of a development to be retained- car parking spaces off the road, for example, or an area of open space in a housing scheme. A condition requiring something to be maintained, in the sense of being kept in good repair or in a prescribed manner, should be imposed only when the planning authority are fully satisfied that the requirement is both relevant to the development which is being permitted, reasonable in its effects and sufficiently precise in its terms to be readily enforceable. Maintenance conditions should not normally be imposed when granting permission for the erection of buildings, or for works other than works of a continuing nature such as minerals extraction.


82. As a general proposition no payment of money or other consideration can be required when granting a permission or any other kind of consent required by a statute, except where there is specific statutory authority. Conditions requiring, for instance, the cession of land for road improvements or for open space, or requiring the developer to contribute money towards the provision of facilities not directly related to the proposed development, should accordingly not be attached to planning permissions. There may, however, be certain circumstances whereby the general proposition should not apply. The appropriateness of conditions involving financial or other considerations is dependent on the particular circumstances of the development for which the planning authority intends to grant planning permission and whether, in particular, the proposed conditions satisfy the criteria in paragraph12. Thus conditions, involving financial considerations, but which meet the tests in paragraph12 need not necessarily be ultra vires. Planning authorities should also bear in mind the advice in SODD Circular12/1996 on Planning Agreements.


Modifying Proposed Development

83. If some feature of a proposed development, or the lack of it, is unacceptable in planning terms, the best course will often be for the applicant to be invited to modify the application. If the modification is substantial, of course, a fresh application will be needed. It may however, depending on the case, be quicker and easier for the planning authority to impose a condition modifying the development permitted in some way. The precise course of action will normally emerge during discussion with the applicant. It would thus be legitimate to require by condition that a factory proposal, for example, should include necessary car parking facilities, but wrong to grant permission for a development consisting of houses and shops subject to a condition that houses be substituted for the shops. Whether a modification would amount to substantial difference will depend upon the circumstances of the case. A useful test will be whether it would so change the proposal that: (i) those who have shown an interest in it would wish to comment on the modification; and (ii) those who, although they had a right to object to the original application and chose not to do so, would be prejudiced if they were not now given an opportunity to comment. A condition modifying the development, however, cannot be imposed if it would make the development permitted substantially different from that comprised in the application.


84. Conditions which will remain in force after the development has been carried out always need particular care. They can place onerous and permanent restrictions on what can be done with the premises affected and they should, therefore, not be imposed without scrupulous weighing of where the balance of advantage lies. The following paragraphs give more detailed guidance.

Restrictions on Use or Permitted Development

85. Exceptionally, conditions may be imposed to restrict further development which would normally be permitted by the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (Scotland) Order 1992, or to restrict changes of use which would not be regarded as development whether because the change is not a "material" change within the terms of section26(1) of the Act, or by reason of section26(2) and the provisions of The Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) (Scotland) Order 1997. Changes of use can be restricted either by prohibiting any change from the use permitted or by precluding specific alternative uses. It should be noted, however, that a condition restricting changes of use will not restrict ancillary or incidental activities unless it so specifies. Similarly, a general condition which restricts the use of land does not remove permitted development rights for that use unless the condition specifically removes those rights as well.

Presumption Against Such Restrictions

86. Both the General Permitted Development Order and the Use Classes Order, however, are designed to give or confirm a freedom from detailed control which will be acceptable in the great majority of cases. Accordingly, save in exceptional circumstances, conditions should not be imposed which restrict either permitted development rights granted by the General Permitted Development Order or future changes of use which the Use Classes Order would otherwise allow. The Secretary of State would regard such conditions as unreasonable unless there were clear evidence that the uses excluded would have serious adverse effects on amenity or the environment, that there was no other forms of control and that the condition would serve a clear planning purpose.

87. To illustrate some exceptional circumstances, it may be possible to justify imposing a condition restricting permitted development rights allowed by Class7 of the General Permitted Development Order so as to preserve an exceptionally attractive open plan estate free of fences, or under Class1 of the General Permitted Development Order so as to avoid over-development by extensions to dwellinghouses in an area of housing at unusually high density. Similarly, changes of use may be restricted so as to prevent the use of large retail premises as a food or convenience goods supermarket, where such a use may generate an unacceptable level of additional traffic or have a damaging effect on the vitality of a nearby town centre. Conditions may also limit the storage of hazardous substances in a warehouse.

Specific Conditions Better than General Ones

88. Because of the general presumption against such restrictions on permitted development or on changes of use which are not development, it will always be necessary to look carefully at the planning reasons for any restriction and to ensure that the condition imposed is no more onerous than can be justified (see paragraph87 above). It would not be right to use a condition restricting uses where an alternative, more specific, condition would achieve the same end. For example, where it is necessary to restrict the volume of noise emitted from an industrial site and a condition addressing the problem expressly can be used, that condition should be imposed, rather than one restricting the permitted uses. Scrupulous care in the giving of proper, adequate and intelligible reasons for imposing conditions (see paragraph9) can help authorities to ensure that the conditions they impose are not more onerous than is necessary to achieve their objective.

Restrictions on Use

89. It will be preferable if a condition designed to restrict changes of use can be drafted so as to prohibit a change to a particular unacceptable use or uses (provided the list does not become too long), rather than in terms which prevent any change of use at all. However, in certain cases a condition confining the use only to the use permitted may be necessary. In appropriate circumstances, it might be reasonable to impose a condition limiting the intensification of use of small office or industrial buildings where intensification beyond a certain point would generate traffic and/or parking problems. Conditions designed to prevent the primary use of an office building being changed to use as shops are unnecessary, as this would involve a material change of use amounting to development of land which would require planning permission.

Ancillary Uses

90. Conditions are sometimes imposed restricting ancillary or incidental activities which would not normally be material changes of use involving development. Conditions of this kind can be burdensome to some technologically advanced industries. They may have a need for higher than normal levels of ancillary office, research or storage uses, or for short-term changes in uses or the balance of uses. Such conditions should, therefore, not normally be imposed on permissions for manufacturing or service industry, except where they are designed to preclude or regulate activities giving rise to hazard, noise or offensive emissions.


Occupancy: General Considerations

91. Since planning controls are concerned with the use of land rather than the identity of the user, the question of who is to occupy premises for which permission is to be granted will normally be irrelevant. Conditions restricting occupancy to a particular occupier or class of occupier should only be used when special planning grounds can be demonstrated and where the alternative would normally be refusal of permission.

Personal Permissions

92. Unless the permission otherwise provides, planning permission runs with the land and it is seldom desirable to provide otherwise. There are occasions relating, for example, to strong compassionate or other personal grounds, where the planning authority is minded to grant permission for the use of a building or land for some purpose which would not normally be allowed. In such a case the permission may be made subject to a condition that it shall enure only for the benefit of a named person- usually the applicant. A permission personal to a company is generally inappropriate. Conditions of this type will scarcely ever be justified in the case of a permission for the erection of a permanent building.

General Undesirability of Commercial and Industrial Occupancy Conditions

93. Conditions are sometimes imposed to confine the occupation of commercial or industrial premises to local firms. Such conditions can act- undesirably- to protect local businesses against fair competition and may hinder the movement of industry in response to economic demand. If a service, or the employment it generates, is needed in an area, there is no planning reason why it should be provided by one firm rather than another. Commercial and industrial buildings in an area of open countryside will not become more acceptable because their occupancy is restricted, nor will the expansion of a local firm necessarily lead to less pressure for further development (eg housing) than the arrival of a firm from outside. The Secretary of State therefore regards such conditions as undesirable in principle.

Conditions Governing Size of Unit Occupied

94. Conditions requiring that a large commercial or industrial building should be occupied either only as a single unit or, alternatively, only in suites not exceeding a certain area or floorspace, represent a significant interference with property rights which is likely to inhibit or delay the productive use of the buildings affected. Such conditions should, therefore, normally be avoided.

Domestic Occupancy Conditions

95. Subject to the advice about affordable housing (paragraph96), staff accommodation (paragraph98-99), agricultural and forestry dwellings (paragraphs100-102) and seasonal use (paragraphs111-113), if the development of a site for housing is an acceptable use of the land, there will seldom be any good reason on land use planning grounds to restrict the occupancy of those houses to a particular type of person (eg those already living or working in the area). To impose such a condition would be to draw an artificial and unwarranted distinction between new houses or new conversions and existing houses that are not subject to such restrictions on occupancy or sale. It may deter housebuilders from providing homes for which there is a local demand and building societies from providing mortgage finance. It may also impose hardship on owners who subsequently need to sell. It involves too detailed and onerous an application of development control and too great an interference in the rights of individual ownership. Such conditions should, therefore, not be imposed save in the most exceptional cases where there are clear and specific circumstances that warrant allowing an individual house (or extension) on a site where development would not normally be permitted.

Affordable Housing

96. The community's need for a mix of housing types- including affordable housing- is capable of being a material planning consideration. It follows that there may be circumstances in which it will be acceptable to use conditions to ensure that some of the housing built is occupied only by people falling within particular categories of need. Such conditions would normally only be necessary where a different planning decision might have been taken if the proposed development did not provide for affordable housing and should make clear the nature of the restriction by referring to criteria set out in the relevant development plan policy. Conditions should not normally be used to control matters such as tenure, price or ownership. Guidance on affordable housing is contained in NPPG 3: Land for Housing.

"Granny Annexes"

97. Some extensions to dwellings are intended for use as "granny annexes". It is possible that a "granny annex" which provides independent living accommodation, could subsequently be let or sold off separately from the main dwelling. Where there are sound planning reasons why the creation of an additional dwelling would be unacceptable, it may be appropriate to impose a planning condition to the effect that the extension permitted shall be used solely as accommodation ancillary to the main dwellinghouse. The same is true for separate buildings (often conversions of outbuildings) intended for use as "granny annexes". In these cases it is even more likely that a separate unit of accommodation will be created.

Staff Accommodation

98. The above considerations may equally apply to staff accommodation. Where an existing house is within the curtilage of another building and the two are in the same occupation, any proposal to occupy the two buildings separately is likely to amount to a material change of use, so that planning permission would be required for such a proposal even in the absence of a condition. Planning authorities should normally consider applications for such development sympathetically since, if the need for such a dwelling (for the accommodation of an employee, for example) disappears, there will generally be no justification for requiring the building to stand empty or to be demolished.

99. Conditions tying the occupation of dwellings to that of separate buildings (eg requiring a house to be occupied only by a person employed by a nearby garage) should be avoided. However, exceptionally, such conditions may be appropriate where there are sound planning reasons to justify them, eg where a dwelling has been allowed on a site where permission would not normally be granted. To grant an unconditional permission would mean that the dwelling could be sold off for general use which may be contrary to development plan policy for the locality. To ensure that the dwelling remains available to meet the identified need, it may therefore be acceptable to grant permission subject to a condition that ties the occupation of the new house to the existing business.

Agricultural and Forestry Dwellings

100. In many parts of Scotland planning policies impose strict controls on new residential development in the open countryside. There may, however, be circumstances where permission is granted to allow a house to be built to accommodate a worker engaged in bona fide agricultural or forestry employment on a site where residential development would not normally be permitted. In these circumstances, it will often be necessary to impose an agricultural or forestry worker occupancy condition.

101. Planning authorities will wish to take care to frame agricultural occupancy conditions in such a way as to ensure that their purpose is clear. In particular, they will wish to ensure that the condition does not have the effect of preventing future occupation by retired agricultural workers or the dependants of the agricultural occupant.

102. Where an agricultural occupancy condition has been imposed, it will not be appropriate to remove it on a subsequent application unless it is shown that circumstances have materially changed and that the agricultural need which justified the approval of the house in the first instance no longer exists.

Retail Development

103. Out-of-centre retail developments, including retail parks, can change their composition over time. If such a change would create a development that the planning authority would have refused on the grounds of impact on vitality and viability of an existing town centre, it may be sensible to consider the use of planning conditions to ensure that these developments do not subsequently change their character unacceptably. Any conditions imposed should apply only to the main ranges of goods (eg food and convenience goods, hardware, electrical goods, furniture and carpets) and should not seek to control details of particular products to be sold. For further guidance see NPPG 8: Retailing.


104. Section41(1)(b) of the Act gives power to impose conditions requiring that a use be discontinued or that buildings or works be removed at the end of a specified period. Where permission is granted for the development of the operational land of a statutory undertaker, however, this power does not apply except with the undertaker's consent (see section219 of the Act). Conditions of this kind are sometimes confused with conditions which impose a time-limit for the implementation of a permission (paragraphs45 to 49) but they are quite distinct and different considerations arise in relation to them.

Principles Applying to Temporary Permissions

105. In other cases, in deciding whether a temporary permission is appropriate, three main factors should be taken into account. Firstly, it will rarely be necessary to give a temporary permission to an applicant who wishes to carry out development which conforms with the provision of the development plan. Secondly, it is undesirable to impose a condition requiring the demolition after a stated period of a building that is clearly intended to be permanent. Lastly, the material considerations to which regard must be had in granting any permission are not limited or made different by a decision to make the permission a temporary one. Thus, the reason for granting a temporary permission can never be that a time-limit is necessary because of the effect of the development on the amenity of the area. Where such objections to a development arise they should, if necessary, be met instead by conditions whose requirements will safeguard amenity. If it is not possible to devise such conditions and the damage to amenity cannot be accepted, then the proper course is to refuse permission. These considerations mean that a temporary permission will normally only be appropriate either where the applicant himself proposes temporary development or when a trial run is needed in order to assess the effect of the development on the area.

Short-Term Buildings or Uses

106. Where, therefore, a proposal relates to a building or use which the applicant is expected to retain or continue only for a limited period, whether because he has specifically volunteered that intention or because it is expected that the planning circumstances will change in a particular way at the end of that period, then a temporary permission may be justified. For example, permission might reasonably be granted on an application for erection of a temporary building to last seven years on land which will be required for road improvements eight or more years hence, although an application to erect a permanent building on the land would normally be refused.

Trial Runs

107. Again, where an application is made for permanent permission for a use which may be a "bad neighbour" to existing uses nearby but there is insufficient evidence to enable the authority to be sure of its character or effect, it might be appropriate to grant a temporary permission in order to give the development a trial run, provided that such a permission would be reasonable having regard to the capital expenditure necessary to carry out the development. However, a temporary permission would not be justified merely because, for example, a building is to be made of wood rather than brick. Nor would a temporary permission be justified on the grounds that, although a particular use, such as a hostel or playgroup, would be acceptable in a certain location, the character of its management may change. In certain circumstances it may be possible to grant temporary permission for the provision of a caravan or other temporary accommodation, where there is some evidence to support the grant of planning permission for an agricultural or forestry dwelling but it is inconclusive, perhaps because there is doubt about the sustainability of the proposed enterprise. This allows time for such prospects to be clarified.

108. A second temporary permission should not normally be granted. A trial period should be set that is sufficiently long for it to be clear by the end of the permission whether permanent permission or a refusal is the right answer. Usually a second temporary permission will only be justified where road or redevelopment proposals have been postponed or in cases of hardship where temporary instead of personal permission has been granted for a change of use.

Restoration of Sites

109. If the temporary permission is for development consisting of, or including, the carrying out of operations, it is important to make provision by condition for the removal of any buildings and works permitted- not merely for the cessation of the use- and for the reinstatement of the land when the permission expires. Where the permission is for temporary use of land as a caravan site, conditions may include a requirement to remove at the expiry of the permission any buildings or structures, such as toilet blocks, erected under Class17 of the General Permitted Development Order.


110. Where a building is new or is being altered, it is usually sufficient to rely on building regulations to ensure adequate access for disabled people. However, some new development does not require building regulation approval, eg development affecting the setting of buildings (layout of estates, pedestrianisation etc) rather than the buildings themselves. Where there is a clear planning need, it may be appropriate to impose a condition to ensure adequate access for disabled people.


Seasonal Occupancy Conditions

111. Occasionally it may be acceptable to limit the use of land for a particular purpose to certain seasons of the year. For example, where planning permission is being granted for a caravan site, the planning authority may think it necessary to impose a condition to ensure that during the winter months the caravans are not occupied and are removed for storage to a particular part of the site or away from the site altogether. Where such a condition is imposed, particular care should be taken to see that the condition allows a reasonable period of use of the caravans in each year. A similar approach may be taken where it is necessary to prevent the permanent residential use of holiday chalets, which by the character of their construction or design are unsuitable for continuous occupation. Seasonal occupancy conditions may also be appropriate to protect the local environment, or example, where the site is near a fragile habitat which requires peace and quiet to allow seasonal breeding or winter feeding to take place.

Holiday Occupancy Conditions

112. In recent years there has been an increased demand for self-catering holiday accommodation- whether new buildings (including mobile homes) or converted properties- which may be constructed to a standard that would equally support permanent residence in some comfort. But this accommodation may also be located in areas in which the provision of permanent housing would be contrary to national policies on development in the countryside or not in accordance with development plan policies, or both. The Secretary of State considers that the planning system should respond to these changes without compromising policies to safeguard the countryside.

113. There may be circumstances where it will be reasonable for the planning authority to grant planning permission for holiday accommodation as an exception to these policies, with a condition specifying its use as holiday accommodation only. For example, conversions of redundant buildings into holiday accommodation where conversion to residential dwellings would not be permitted may reduce the pressure on other housing in rural areas. A holiday occupancy condition would seem more appropriate in those circumstances than a seasonal occupancy condition. But authorities should continue to use seasonal occupancy conditions to prevent the permanent residential use of accommodation which by the character of its construction or design is unsuitable for continuous occupation, particularly in the winter months.