Publication - Consultation analysis

Reviewing and extending permitted development rights: consultation analysis

Published: 30 Sep 2020

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

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53 page PDF

547.4 kB

Contents
Reviewing and extending permitted development rights: consultation analysis
2. The proposed work programme

53 page PDF

547.4 kB

2. The proposed work programme

2.1 The first consultation question sought views on the work programme set out in the consultation paper for reviewing and extending PDR. The work programme is based around 16 development types identified by the Scottish Government, split into six work phases. Prioritisation of these development types has been informed by the SA report.

Q1. Do you have any comments on the proposed Work Programme, including the proposed phasing and groupings?

2.2 A total of 101 respondents addressed Question 1, including 57 organisation respondents and 44 individuals. Of these 101 respondents, 30 expressed broad support for the proposed work programme, 44 provided comments which criticised aspects of the proposed work programme (the great majority of these being individuals, including 16 campaign plus responses) and 27 did not express a clear view on the work programme as a whole.

2.3 Most of those expressing broad support for the work programme raised some issues or suggested amendment to the programme; overall, 81 respondents (40 organisations and 41 individuals) raised issues or concerns, or suggested amendments to the work programme. Table 2 summarises these responses by respondent type.

Table 2: Respondents to Question 1 by type
Answered Question 1 Raised issues or amendments
All Respondents 101 81 (80%)
Organisations 57 40 (70%)
Public sector 16 10
Planning authorities 11 7
Other public bodies 5 3
Planning and other professionals 5 4
Private sector 17 13
Energy supply and/or distribution 6 4
Telecoms 4 2
Rural economy 4 4
Other 3 3
Third sector 19 13
Environment 7 3
Representative bodies/groups 2 1
Campaign groups 3 2
Other 7 7
Individuals 44 41 (93%)

2.4 A range of respondents used Question 1 as an opportunity to express their support for the grouping and phasing of development types. This included a mix of planning authorities, planning/other professionals, private sector, third sector and individual respondents.

2.5 As Table 2 shows, most of those providing comment at Question 1 raised issues or suggested amendments to the proposed work programme, including from those who also expressed general support for the work programme. For most respondents, these suggestions related to specific development types and we summarise these over the following pages. However, a number of common themes were also evident across these responses.

2.6 Some respondents objected to any extension of PDR, including a planning authority and individual respondents. These respondents suggested that existing PDR are already extensive and that recent additions to PDR have not had a significant positive impact on pressures for local authorities. Some individuals also suggested that the work programme did not give sufficient emphasis to the rights of communities affected by development.

2.7 Others suggested that it was unclear how the selection of specific development types and the phasing of the work programme related to specific findings set out in the SA report. This included an other public body suggesting that prioritisation of the work programme to support the rural economy does not appear to have been subject to any assessment or consideration of alternatives.

2.8 Some respondents highlighted other development types which they felt should be considered for PDR. This included a private sector and a third sector respondent suggesting that the proposed work programme could give more consideration to opportunities to support policy aspirations around delivery of more homes in Scotland, and particularly delivery of affordable rural homes. This included specific suggestions for PDR to be extended to include development of housing: where a need for affordable housing can be demonstrated; to support rural economic development; community-led housing, collective self-build or mutual home ownership cooperative developments; on land identified for affordable housing through Local Place Plans; to enable succession of farm ownership; and homes on new entrant small holdings/farms. A private sector respondent also suggested a potential role for PDR for the replacement of a rural dwelling with a poor energy performance rating, with a 'nearly zero' emission dwelling.

2.9 A number of respondents raised concerns regarding potential extension of PDR to designated areas, wild land areas and heritage locations. It was suggested that potential benefits for climate policy and digital infrastructure, for example, do not warrant permitting development that could cause unacceptable harm to these locations. A planning authority suggested a need for a cross-cutting work stream to consider the role of designated areas in relation to PDR, including specific reference to a perceived need for clarity regarding PDR in relation to World Heritage Sites (WHS).

2.10 Some third sector respondents saw a need to expand the work programme to incorporate a review of the General Permitted Development (Scotland) Order (GPDO) as a whole. This included 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. A planning authority wished to see a review of prior notification and approval procedures, alongside the review of PDR.

Phase 1 development types

2.11 Support for the prioritisation of PDR for digital communications infrastructure included reference to the importance of digital infrastructure for wider Scottish Government policy priorities, including the rural economy. Several respondents referred to the importance of PDR in reducing the costs and time associated with the rollout of digital infrastructure to rural areas. A private sector respondent also noted the urgency associated with reform to PDR for mobile network infrastructure to support the ongoing rollout of 5G.

2.12 However, most of those referring to PDR for digital communications infrastructure raised issues or amendments for the proposed work programme and the scope of PDR. These issues and amendments are summarised below.

  • Some suggested that extensive PDR are already in place for digital communications infrastructure, and have been subject to relatively recent change. This included concerns raised by several respondents that care will be required to ensure any further changes do not have a negative impact on the built or natural heritage. Others suggested that time should be allowed for evaluation of recent changes to PDR for digital communications before further changes are introduced.
  • Some made specific recommendations for the infrastructure to which PDR should apply, including reference to the potential value of aligning PDR in Scotland with the ongoing review of mobile planning rules in England and Wales. It was also suggested that PDR should ensure 'critical' digital infrastructure can streamline the current two stage notification process. This included suggestions that PDR should include:
    • All telecoms cabinets/boxes outwith conservation areas, including a suggestion that these could be classified as 'critical infrastructure'.
    • Some higher masts (with prior approval) as part of the Shared Rural Network.
    • Strengthening of existing masts for upgrade to 5G, without prior approval.
    • Building and rooftop based apparatus without prior approval.
    • Deployment of radio housing equipment outwith sites of special scientific interest, without prior approval.
    • Aligning PDR for mobile infrastructure with fixed telecoms operators.
    • A requirement for prior approval of digital communications infrastructure in conservation or other designated areas.
    • A requirement for prior publication of exclusion zones for 5G infrastructure (including upgrade of existing 4G infrastructure to 5G), noting that these are typically much larger than for 4G infrastructure and as such are more likely to interact with existing or potential developments.
  • Some campaign groups and individuals objected to the extension of PDR for digital communications infrastructure, and specifically for 5G infrastructure. This included respondents raising concerns around the potential impact of 5G infrastructure on health and wellbeing, biodiversity and the built environment. Some suggested that appropriate research should be completed before any further change to PDR for digital infrastructure.
  • A private sector respondent objected to extension of PDR for digital communications infrastructure due to potential impacts for aviation safety.

2.13 The prioritisation of PDR for agricultural developments was welcomed by a number of respondents, including planning authorities. These respondents referred to the importance of the development type for Scottish Government policy objectives to support rural economies and rural repopulation, and for National Parks and other designated areas.

2.14 However, most of those referring to PDR for agricultural developments raised issues or amendments for the proposed work programme and the scope of PDR. These issues and amendments are summarised below.

  • Support for extension of PDR to agricultural developments included specific suggestions for increasing the current 465m2 limit on PDR to 1000m2, and relaxing limits on polytunnels as temporary infrastructure.
  • Some respondents also supported PDR for conversion of farm buildings to residential or commercial use, including suggestions that this should allow for replacement of agricultural buildings with housing or commercial development within the same footprint. These suggestions were linked to concerns that current proposals as set out in the SA may not go far enough for the delivery of affordable rural housing and to support rural repopulation. Respondents also referred to a need for flexibility in housing policy to allow agriculture to adapt to change in who will be farming what land under post-Brexit trade policies.
  • Concerns regarding extension of PDR to agricultural developments were most commonly related to change to residential use. This included a suggestion from planning authority and planning/other professional respondents that existing controls on such changes of use are required to maintain landscape value and recreational use, to prevent inappropriate development particularly in areas of countryside/green belt adjacent to urban areas, and suggestions that current Local Development Plan (LDP) processes are sufficient for delivery of rural housing. Some specifically objected to extension of PDR to these developments and suggested review of the current prior notification process to assist with streamlining. Others saw a need for conditions on any extension of PDR to ensure privacy, amenity space and parking, particularly in some crofting areas.
  • A planning authority suggested that flood risk areas should be excluded from any extension of PDR for agricultural developments.
  • A private sector respondent objected to extension of PDR for agricultural developments due to potential impacts for aviation safety.

2.15 Support for extension of PDR for micro-renewables was most commonly linked to the potential to streamlining micro-renewables development to support the government's targets regarding emissions reduction and addressing the climate emergency. Some also felt that extension of PDR for micro-renewables had potential to deliver significant benefits for local economies, including a suggestion that the SA under-estimates this local impact.

2.16 Some of those referring to PDR for micro-renewables raised issues or amendments for the proposed work programme and the scope of PDR. These issues and amendments are summarised below.

  • Some suggested that extensive PDR are already in place for micro-renewables development, and that careful consideration would be required to ensure that any additional PDR do not have a negative impact on the built or natural environment.
  • A planning/other professional respondent suggested that consideration should be given to further guidance to minimise negative impacts of micro-renewables on buildings and roofscapes.
  • A private sector respondent recommended that solar development is identified as a priority sub-grouping to reflect ease of deployment and recent technological developments.
  • A private sector respondent suggested that PDR for micro-renewables may not be appropriate in some rural areas.
  • An individual respondent objected to the extension of PDR for biomass on the basis of potential for negative impact on air quality and use of non-renewable fuel sources.
  • A private sector respondent objected to extension of PDR for micro-renewables due to potential impacts for aviation safety.

2.17 Support for the prioritisation of peatland restoration included respondents highlighting the importance of the development type for National Parks, designated areas and other rural locations. Several respondents referred to the importance of the planning system facilitating peatland restoration given the potentially significant positive impacts for the local and global environment, biodiversity, and flood prevention.

2.18 Issues or amendments for the proposed work programme and the scope of PDR for peatland restoration are summarised below.

  • A planning authority made specific suggestions for any change to PDR for peatland restoration in WHS to make clear how PDR relate to the 'property boundary' and any adjacent 'buffer zone' of the WHS, and considers whether extension of PDR may be suitable in some WHS.
  • A planning authority suggested that habitat pond creation (Phase 4 of the proposed work programme) should be combined with peatland restoration under a wider 'wetlands' heading, reflecting the relevance of 'wetlands' to the wider policy context.
  • A private sector respondent noted potential opportunities for peatland restoration provided by renewable developments.

2.19 Several respondents specifically welcomed the prioritisation of hill tracks (private ways) in considering the scope of PDR. This included reference to management of private ways being a particularly significant issue in National Parks and other rural local authority areas across Scotland.

2.20 However, respondents expressed a mix of views on any potential change to the scope of PDR for hill tracks. Some suggested that hill tracks are essential to the rural economy and noted that hill tracks constructed for agriculture or forestry operations often have multiple uses and deliver multiple benefits. This included a private sector respondent who did not wish to see any limitation on current PDR for hill tracks.

2.21 In contrast, a planning/other professional respondent suggested that there is significant public concern regarding the impact of hill tracks on rural landscapes, and that controls are still required to ensure the impact is minimised in sensitive areas. Issues or amendments for the proposed work programme and the scope of PDR for hill tracks are summarised below.

  • In terms of potential scope for extension of PDR for hill tracks, respondents suggested this could apply to small scale developments in low lying areas that do not have the negative impacts that hill track restrictions seek to manage, and forestry tracks which are already subject to other planning and Environmental Impact Assessment regulations. It was also noted that the SA raises the potential for PDR for hill tracks relating to new ground-based masts and snow sports.
  • A private sector respondent suggested that clearer guidance is required on hill track construction, including the distinction between 'maintenance' and 'alteration' of existing hill tracks.
  • Some noted that the review of PDR for hill tracks is not covered by the SA and wished to see further evidence provided.

Phase 2 development types

2.22 Support for extension of PDR for electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure and active travel was primarily related to the potential contribution to emissions reduction, and wider climate change policy objectives.

2.23 A number of issues or amendments were raised in relation to the proposed work programme and the scope of PDR. Key points raised in relation to EV charging infrastructure are summarised below.

  • A planning authority, planning/other professional and some private sector respondents suggested giving higher priority to EV charging infrastructure (and active travel) to be included in phase 1. This included a suggestion that EV charging infrastructure could be classified as 'critical infrastructure' as a means of reducing the need for planning applications. A private sector respondent also suggested that installation of small domestic EV chargers is sufficiently non-controversial as to be dealt with quickly in phase 1.
  • Some private sector respondents suggested that the current prohibition on PDR in National Parks and other designated areas should be reviewed as part of the work programme, recognising the need to balance protection of these areas with the delivery of climate change policy objectives.
  • A private sector respondent suggested there is a need to encourage greater use of existing EV charging infrastructure before consideration of any extension of PDR, and that the development type could be moved to phase 3.

2.24 Key points raised in relation to PDR for active travel are summarised below.

  • A planning authority suggested giving higher priority to active travel (and EV charging infrastructure) to be included in phase 1.
  • A planning/other professional suggested that careful consideration should be given to the kinds of active travel developments (and associated impact) where a planning application is still warranted.
  • Some suggested that active travel should be removed from the extension of PDR.
  • A number of third sector and individual respondents (including the 'campaign plus' respondents noted in section 1 of this report) suggested that the active travel development type should be expanded to include sheds and storage containers for bike storage. These respondents noted that bike storage is currently included in the 'householder developments' at phase 3, but suggested that they could make a significant contribution to the modal shift to active travel. These respondents also wished to see extension of PDR to include installation of bike storage in the front of residential properties.

Phase 3 development types

2.25 Support for extension of PDR for town centre changes of use was most commonly linked to the potential contribution to wider socio-economic policy objectives, and particularly for town centre regeneration.

2.26 However, most of those referring to PDR for town centre changes of use raised issues or amendments for the proposed work programme and the scope of PDR. These are summarised below.

  • A planning/other professional suggested that town centres change of use should be considered earlier in the proposed work programme, given the importance of town centres for wider socio-economic policy, and the value of aligning this work with preparation of NPF4.
  • A planning/other professional suggested there will be a need for careful consideration of potential problems and unintended consequences associated with changes of use, and that this could undermine some of the key principles of Development Management. Some respondents also suggested there is potential conflict with environmental health and public health issues, and the 'agent of change' introduced by the Planning Act, if extending PDR led to a significant increase in residential buildings in town centres. This included potential threats to the arts and cultural offer of town centres.
  • A planning authority noted that commentary around the work programme makes reference to 'sui generis' uses, and noted that this would represent a change to current PDR for changes of use.
  • It was suggested that current LDP policy frameworks could be reviewed to remove restrictive uses.
  • A private sector respondent suggested that consideration is given to extending PDR for town centre changes of use to include villages to support village regeneration and to support rural communities more widely.

2.27 Most of those referring to PDR for householder developments raised issues or amendments for the proposed work programme and the scope of PDR. These are summarised below.

  • A planning/other professional suggested the need for PDR for householder developments to balance freedom of choice, community and neighbourly responsibility. It was noted that many householder applications are approved unconditionally where they comply with existing controls or guidance, and have often been the subject of pre-applications discussion with opportunities for comment from neighbours.
  • A private sector respondent noted the potential for PDR for householder developments to enable changes required for climate change mitigation and adaptation.
  • A public body and a private sector respondent suggested that the review of PDR for householder developments should be aligned with the ongoing review of Scottish Government surface water policy.
  • A number of third sector and individual respondents (including the 'campaign plus' respondents noted in section 1 of this report) suggested that sheds and storage containers for bike storage should be moved from the householder developments to the active travel development type.

Phase 4 development types

2.28 Support for extension of PDR for district heating and supporting infrastructure was most commonly linked to supporting the role of district heating in decarbonising heat and delivering wider climate change policy objectives. This included reference to the phasing of this development type fitting with Local Heat and Energy Efficiency Strategies (LHEES).

2.29 Issues or amendments for the proposed work programme and the scope of PDR for district heating are summarised below.

  • A public body respondent suggested that district heating and supporting infrastructure could be brought forward in the work programme to encourage project development.
  • Several respondents referred to the importance of thermal storage for heat networks, to facilitate use of low carbon energy sources and enable heat networks to manage peak demand. This included suggestions for PDR to be extended to include thermal storage in heat networks and domestic dwellings. A public body respondent also suggested that thermal stores can have an impact on visual amenity and as such should be considered as part of infrastructure related to district heating.
  • A private sector respondent suggested that the extension of PDR may not alone address the current time delays associated with planning applications for heat networks, and wished to see an accelerated planning process to address these.

2.30 Support for extension of PDR for domestic and non-domestic energy storage was most primarily related to the potential role of energy storage in decarbonising heat and delivering wider climate change policy objectives.

2.31 Issues or amendments for the proposed work programme and the scope of PDR for domestic and non-domestic energy storage are summarised below.

  • Several private sector respondents suggested that energy storage should be considered earlier in the work programme, including reference to the relevance of energy storage for some forms of micro-renewable energy generation (included at phase 1).
  • A private sector respondent suggested that non-domestic energy storage differs substantially from domestic storage and should be considered as a distinct category.
  • A private sector respondent raised concerns about potential negative impacts on cultural heritage and landscape associated with energy storage, although it was acknowledged that this must be balanced with the potential contribution to climate change objectives.
  • A private sector respondent suggested a need for clarity in terminology, and specifically as to whether 'energy storage' is intended to refer to battery and/or other forms of energy storage.

2.32 Several respondents suggested that extension of PDR for defibrillator cabinets should be less complex than other development types, although a planning/other professional saw a need for careful consideration of prominent installations to traditional buildings in Conservation Areas. Some suggested that the development type could be considered earlier in the work programme.

Phase 5 development types

2.33 Support for extension of PDR for habitat pond creation included reference to potential benefits for biodiversity and wider environmental policy objectives. Issues or amendments for the proposed work programme and the scope of PDR for habitat pond creation are summarised below.

  • A planning authority suggested that habitat pond creation should be merged with peatland restoration (at phase 1) under a heading of 'wetlands'. This included reference to the relevance of 'wetlands' to the wider physical and policy context. Others referred to potential for habitat pond creation to be considered earlier in the work programme, including reference to their relevance to agricultural developments (at phase 1), addressing the current confusion regarding the information and permissions required for pond creation, supporting flood prevention, and complimenting new house building and community expansion targets.
  • A private sector respondent questioned the link drawn between PDR for habitat pond creation and future agricultural support programmes, and suggested that extension of PDR should be based on benefits to biodiversity (for example), rather than the support scheme under which the pond is created.
  • Private sector respondents suggested a number of potential restrictions on PDR for habitat pond creation, including PDR only applying to ponds at or below ground level, and limitations on pond creation close to airfields to reduce the risk of birdstrike.
  • A private sector respondent suggested that extension of PDR to pond creation has the potential to negatively impact food security and the sustainability of local farms, for example where ponds remove a large volume of farmland.
  • A planning/other professional suggested that consideration should be given to the need for access to sites and removal of unwanted material.
  • A private sector respondent objected to extension of PDR for habitat pond creation due to potential impacts for aviation safety.

2.34 Support for extension of PDR for allotments and community growing schemes included reference to the potential contribution to climate change policy, and suggestions that any negative effects would be minor, dependent on previous land use, and could be effectively mitigated.

2.35 Issues or amendments for the proposed work programme and the scope of PDR for allotments and community growing schemes are summarised below.

  • A third sector respondent wished to see that PDR for allotments and community growing schemes should be considered alongside agricultural developments at phase 1. This included suggestions that many community growing schemes are agricultural in nature as they are focused on small scale food production.
  • A planning/other professional suggested that consideration should be given to parking areas and controls on the number and size of outbuildings for each plot.
  • A planning/other professional suggested that earlier phasing of habitat pond creation could compliment new house building and community expansion targets.

Phase 6 development types

2.36 A small number of respondents referred to extension of PDR for snow sports. This included suggestions that a lower priority is appropriate for this type of development, including reference to potential negative impacts on carbon emissions identified by the SA. A planning/other professional also saw a need for careful consideration of the potential need for controls in sensitive areas.


Contact

Email: Chief.Planner@gov.scot