Permitted Development Rights (PDR) - review and extension: consultation analysis

Analysis of responses to a public consultation on phase 1 of the Scottish Government’s programme to review and extend Permitted Development Rights (PDR).

1 Introduction

1.1 This report presents analysis of responses to a public consultation on phase 1 of the Scottish Government’s programme to review and extend Permitted Development Rights (PDR).


1.2 Typically applied to minor or uncontroversial developments or changes to existing development, PDR remove the need to apply for planning permission and are intended to reflect cases where refusal of planning permission is highly unlikely, such that consideration by the planning authority is unlikely to add value. In this way, PDR can increase efficiency across the planning system, reducing the burden on planning authorities and applicants, and allowing planning officers to focus on developments where they can add most value.

1.3 PDR have been a feature of the planning system in Scotland for several decades, with permitted development types set out in The Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (Scotland) Order 1992. Although legislation has been amended in recent years, PDR remains an area of relatively complex ‘micro level’ regulation. This is reflected in the 2016 report of an Independent Panel review of the planning system, Empowering Planning to Deliver Great Places. The Panel saw significant scope to remove uncontroversial minor developments from the planning system and potential to further incentivise developments which support policy aspirations such as low carbon living and digital infrastructure, and contribute to wider Scottish Government strategic objectives.

1.4 The Independent Panel report included a specific recommendation for review of PDR to identify potential for significant expansion. In response, the Scottish Government asked Heads of Planning Scotland (HOPS) to consider the role and operation of PDR in the planning system, and to make specific recommendations for change. HOPS concurred with the Independent Panel regarding the need for reform to legislation and regulation around PDR “to reposition them in a contemporary context which also simplifies and streamlines”. HOPS recommended that options for the simplification of PDR would benefit from further discussion and consultation to identify options for radical change to the role of PDR.

1.5 In response to the Independent Panel and HOPS, the Scottish Government identified 16 development types for further consideration of extension or other changes to PDR. A Sustainability Appraisal was undertaken to consider scope for reviewing PDR for the 16 development types, and to assess anticipated benefits and disadvantages for each. In 2019, the Scottish Government consulted on a proposed work programme for reviewing PDR in Scotland, and the Sustainability Appraisal. The work programme comprised six phases, with the 16 development types having been prioritised and assigned accordingly to the phases.

1.6 The work programme has subsequently been revised in light of responses to this consultation, and recognising the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. For example, the pandemic has limited Scottish Government staffing capacity and delayed work to take forward Phase 1 of the review of PDR, while the sequencing of development types has been amended to prioritise development that can make the greatest contribution to recovery from the pandemic.

1.7 The revised Phase 1 of the programme for review of PDR, and updated Sustainability Appraisal and impact assessments are the subject of the current consultation. Phase 1 of the revised work programme comprises four main development types; digital telecommunications infrastructure, agricultural developments, peatland restoration, and developments relating to active travel. The consultation paper sets out proposals for changes and extensions to PDR for each of these development types.

1.8 A total of 73 questions are set out in the consultation paper, most of these being closed questions which invite respondents to provide further comment where they disagree with the Scottish Government’s proposal. The great majority of consultation questions relate to specific development types (28 on digital telecommunications infrastructure, 20 on agricultural developments, 11 on peatland restoration and 11 on active travel) with 3 questions relating to the Sustainability Appraisal and impact assessments. The consultation opened on 1 October and closed on 12 November 2020. The paper is available at:

Profile of responses

1.9 In total 119 responses were received, of which 61 were from groups or organisations and 58 from individual members of the public. The 58 responses from individuals included 5 ‘campaign plus’ responses where respondents had adapted standard text on domestic cycle storage produced by Spokes (a ‘third sector – other’ organisation respondent).

1.10 Where consent has been given to publish the response it may be found at:

1.11 Respondents were asked to identify whether they were responding as an individual or on behalf of a group or organisation. Group respondents were allocated to one of four broad categories (and one of 8 sub-groups) by the analysis team. A breakdown of the number of responses received by respondent type is set out in the table below, and a full list of group respondents appended to this report as Annex 1.

Respondents by type
All Respondents 119
Organisations 61
Public sector 22
Planning authorities 16
Other public bodies 6
Planning and other professionals 5
Private sector 14
Digital telecoms 5
Rural economy 3
Other 6
Third sector 20
Environment/natural heritage 9
Community Councils/representative groups 4
Other 7
Individuals 58

1.12 Responses varied in their focus across the consultation. Most addressed only a single development type (71 of 119 respondents answered questions under one development type, most commonly those related to Active Travel), and relatively few answered questions across all four development types (19 of 119 respondents).

1.13 The extent to which responses focused on specific development types varied by respondent type, and generally appeared to reflect respondents’ experience and expertise. For example, several respondents drew on their experience and knowledge when focusing on specific development types such as digital communications infrastructure and agricultural development. It is also notable that 49 of the 58 individual respondents were focused solely on proposals relating to Active Travel. In contrast, most public bodies and planning professionals provided responses across all four development types.

Analysis and reporting

1.14 This report presents an analysis of responses received in relation to each of the consultation questions in turn. Respondents made submissions in a range of formats, some including material that did not directly address specific consultation questions. This content was analysed qualitatively under the most directly relevant part of the consultation. There was some commonality in themes raised across the consultation questions; we note where this is the case but have not repeated a full account of each theme across all questions.

1.15 A list of abbreviations used in the report is provided at Annex 2.



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