Rural planning to be prioritised

Review into planning underway.

The need for planning permission could be removed for certain types of rural developments to help tackle depopulation and support local economies.

Small scale developments such as the conversion of agricultural buildings to deliver more homes in rural areas could automatically be given the go-ahead under a review of planning laws.

The development of larger operational farm buildings including sheds and polytunnels could also be exempted.

The changes are being considered as part of a new action plan to implement a radical shake-up of planning laws.

Removal of planning permission for developments that help address climate change is also being considered.

Planning Minister Kevin Stewart said:

“Scotland’s rural areas are a major source of growth, with environmental quality that underpins key sectors such as food and drink, tourism, energy and the creative industries. That’s why tackling depopulation and supporting the sustainability our rural communities is so important.

“I believe these reforms will help support work aimed at increasing the rural population, will support succession planning for farmers and will provide an opportunity for the planning system to positively contribute to the long-term sustainability of rural businesses and communities.”


Permitted Development Rights remove the need to apply for planning permission and typically relate to minor or uncontroversial developments where planning permission would likely be granted.

The Scottish Government is currently seeking views on its Sustainability Appraisal of options for expanding Permitted Development Rights across 16 development types.

The report sets out the likely significant environmental, social and economic effects of options for change, and was informed by the views of a Virtual Review Group of key stakeholders such as Scottish Environment Link, National Farmers Union Scotland and telecommunications providers.

The 2019-20 Programme for Government ‘Protecting Scotland’s Future’ highlights the key role planning has to play in addressing climate change and helping to radically accelerate reduction of emissions, and in ensuring we can sustain and support communities, including support for dynamic rural economies, in resisting the most detrimental impacts of Brexit.


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