Reviewing and extending permitted development rights: consultation analysis

Analysis of responses to a public consultation on reviewing and extending permitted development rights, which ran between 5 November 2019 and 28 January 2020.

1. Introduction


1.1 This report presents analysis of responses to a public consultation on reviewing and extending Permitted Development Rights (PDR).

1.2 PDR typically apply to minor or uncontroversial developments or changes to existing development, and remove the need to apply for planning permission. PDR are intended to reflect cases where the scale and nature of a development is noncontentious and where refusal of planning permission is highly unlikely, such that consideration of the development 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 PDR set out in The Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (Scotland) Order 1992. Legislation has been amended in recent years, but PDR remains an area of complex 'micro level'[1] regulation. This is reflected in the report of an Independent Panel review of the planning system, Empowering Planning to Deliver Great Places[2], published in 2016. The Independent Panel saw significant scope to remove uncontroversial minor developments from the planning system, with potential to incentivise developments which support policy aspirations such as low carbon living and digital infrastructure. In this regard PDR could also support wider Scottish Government policy objectives to accelerate the reduction of emissions and address the global climate emergency, a key focus for Scotland's fourth National Planning Framework (NPF4).

1.4 The Independent Panel report included a specific recommendation to review PDR to identify potential for significant expansion to their role in the planning system. 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 considered that legislation and regulation around PDR were 'in need of an overhaul and rethink to reposition them in a contemporary context which also simplifies and streamlines', and 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 The Scottish Government, taking into account findings of the Independent Panel and HOPS, developed a proposed work programme for substantial review and extension of PDR in Scotland. The work programme is based around 16 development types, identified by the Scottish Government for further consideration of extensions or changes to PDR. A Sustainability Appraisal (SA) report was developed to consider the potential environmental, social and economic impacts of changes to PDR. This also informed the work programme in terms of prioritisation of changes across specific development types. In addition to wider policy objectives to address the global climate emergency; for example in relation to micro-renewables and peat restoration, digital communications infrastructure, hill tracks and a specific focus on the potential for extension of PDR to further support the rural economy, the future of the farming sector in Scotland, and delivery of affordable homes in rural areas.

1.6 The work programme and associated SA report were the subject of the consultation. The consultation paper asked 5 open questions in relation to the work programme and SA report, several of which include sub-divisions relating to the environmental, social and economic aspects of the programme. One question related to the work programme and phasing as a whole, while the remaining four related to specific elements of the SA report. The consultation opened on 5 November 2019 and closed on 28 January 2020. The paper is available at:

Profile of responses

1.7 In total 113 responses were received, of which 61 were from groups or organisations and 52 from individual members of the public. The 52 responses from individuals included 16 'campaign plus' responses where respondents had adapted standard text on domestic cycle storage produced by Spokes (a third sector campaign group included in the 61 group respondents).

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

1.9 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 11 sub-groups) by the analysis team. A breakdown of the number of responses received by respondent type is set out in Table 1 below, and a full list of group respondents appended to this paper.

Table 1: Respondents by type
All Respondents 113
Organisations: 61
Public sector 16
Planning authorities 11
Other public bodies 5
Planning and other professionals 5
Private sector 19
Energy supply and/or distribution 6
Telecoms 4
Rural economy 5
Other 4
Third sector 21
Environment 8
Representative bodies/groups 2
Campaign groups 3
Other 8
Individuals 52

1.10 Responses varied in their focus across the consultation. Some focused primarily, or exclusively, on specific development types including responses providing significant detail on issues around the extension of PDR for these development types. Other respondents commented across a broader range of development types, including a small number of providing detailed comments in relation to each of the 16 development types considered by the consultation paper.

1.11 The extent to which responses focused on specific development type varied by respondent type and 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 micro-renewables and digital communication infrastructure, while some public bodies providing highly detailed responses across a range of development types.

Analysis and reporting

1.12 This report presents an analysis of responses received in relation to each of the five 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.

1.13 Under each consultation question, our analysis is structured around the 16 development types and other common themes raised by respondents. 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.

1.14 A list of acronyms used in the report is provided at the annex.



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