Annex B: Business and Regulatory Impact Assessment Template
Title of Proposal
General Permitted Development Order - Agriculture, Digital, Active Travel and Peatland Restoration
Purpose and intended effect
Permitted development rights (PDR) refer to those forms of development which are granted planning permission nationally through legislation, meaning they can be undertaken without having to make an application to the planning authority in the usual way. They are, however, subject to specific conditions and limitations to protect amenity and to control the impacts of the development to which they relate. Current PDR in Scotland are governed by the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (Scotland) Order 1992 ("the GPDO").
In November 2019 we consulted on a proposed work programme for substantially reviewing and extending Permitted Development Rights in Scotland along with the Sustainability Appraisal undertaken by consultants to inform the work. The consultation paper together with responses received are available to view at this link https://consult.gov.scot/localgovernment-and-communities/reviewing-and-extending-pdr/.
The Sustainability Appraisal considered the scope for reviewing permitted development rights for 16 separate development types, and provided an assessment of expected benefits that could be realised by extending PDR, as well as any disadvantages.
The Covid-19 pandemic has resulted in our work programme being reprioritised to support our recovery from the pandemic. There are 4 key areas we intend to initially take forward:
- Active Travel
- Peatland Restoration
Extending current PDR or introducing new PDR supports Scotland's ongoing recovery from the COVID Pandemic
Our proposals seek to boost the Scottish Economy and help to meet our climate change ambitions. They are intended to support the expansion and improvement in Digital Communication, allow residents to erect storage for bikes and other active travel equipment in front gardens, restore Scotland's vital peatlands and allow for increased agricultural development and diversification, as well as the delivery of new homes (including affordable properties) in rural areas.
Rationale for Government intervention
It is widely acknowledged that the Planning System can play an integral role in achieving all of the outcomes included in the National Performance Framework. The changes we are proposing to bring forward relating to agriculture, digital communications, active travel and peatland restoration can contribute to the specific outcomes of Economy, Environment, Fair Work and Business, Health and Children and Young People.
Removing the requirement for some developments to submit an application for planning permission means that development can be progressed more swiftly, taking advantage of improvements to technology or react to situations.
We propose to:
- Approximately double the size of new agricultural buildings (from 465m2 to 1,000m2) that may be erected under PDR (subject to prior approval) and double of the size of extensions to existing agricultural buildings that may be carried out without prior approval
- Introduce a new PDR for the conversion of agricultural buildings to residential and other commercial uses subject to a number of conditions and limitations, including prior approval in respect of a number of matters
- Make equivalent provision in respect of forestry buildings.
- increases to existing PDR limits for digital infrastructure (e.g. new masts, extensions to existing masts, antenna and kit on buildings, equipment cabinets on the ground and underground development);
- extensions of PD rights into sensitive areas (but subject to lower size/heights limits); and
- to ensure that PDR is compliant with Article 57 of the EU Directive in relation to Small Aerial Wireless Access Points (SAWAP).
We propose to:
- introduce PDR for a storage shed in the front garden of properties without external access to a rear garden – subject to a height and size limit. Aim will be to make it big enough to store 1-2 bikes and/or an adapted bike or mobility scooter
- introduce PDR for storage sheds in the rear garden and/or the car park of shared properties (i.e. flats) – subject to a height/size limit
- introduce PDR for storage sheds/shelters in the car parks/grounds of offices – subject to height/size limit
- introduce PDR for storage sheds/shelters in certain public spaces (e.g. on roads in dense residential areas, near train stations) – subject to height/size limits. Some shelters (e.g. those on road) would still be subject to the TRO process
- clarify what active travel 'developments' already enjoy PDR (e.g. cycle lanes on road)
We are proposing that PDR relies on a generally accepted understanding of what constitutes peatland, and that peatland restoration operations are not specifically defined. The proposals do not contain any restrictions, though they do not include PDR for hill tracks for peatland restoration purposes.
Given the broad nature of the proposed PDR, it seems unlikely they would introduce any costs for peatland restoration.
Discussions were undertaken involving a Virtual Review Group, which consisted of key stakeholders with knowledge and expertise, from scoping stage through to informing the sustainability on the options for change.
Proposals have been informed by engagement with a number of Directorates within Scottish Government, including relevant policy teams in the Agricultural and Rural Economy Directorate, Transport Scotland, the Directorate for Local Government and Communities, the Directorate for Housing and Social Justice and the Directorate for Environment and Forestry. Prior to public consultation, targeted engagement was carried out with a number of stakeholders including the National Farmers Union Scotland, Scottish Land and Estates, Heads of Planning Scotland, Scottish Environment Protection Agency, Scottish Natural Heritage and Historic Environment Scotland.
Towards the end of the consultation period on the sustainability appraisal, together with the proposed work programme, an engagement paper was issued to the key stakeholders in advance of workshops which were planned for March 2020. Given the situation with the pandemic, those workshops had to be cancelled and the PDR work subsequently paused and refocussed.
A targeted pre-consultation engagement paper was circulated in July 2020 to key stakeholders within industry, public sector and environmental bodies and their responses assisted in the preparation of the consultation questions. The consultation paper on digital has been shared with policy leads within Scottish Government's Digital Connectivity team.
Discussions on extending permitted development rights for the storage of bikes and other potential works to do with active travel have taken place with Transport Scotland, Sustrans, Cycling UK, NatureScot, Living Streets Scotland and Historic Environment Scotland. Discussions with Sustrans and Transport Scotland have been particularly helpful in considering the different types of bikes and storage solutions which are available such as adaptive bikes, trikes and communal bike storage.
The proposals on permitted development rights for peatland restoration have been discussed with the team promoting peatland restoration. A discussion paper was circulated in August 2020 to the National Peatland Group, which includes representatives from that team, local authorities, national park authorities, Scotch Whisky Association, Scottish Renewables, Scottish Water, Scottish Land & Estates, RSPB, Community Land Scotland, University of the Highlands & Islands, Scottish Forestry, International Union for Conservation of Nature UK Peatland Project, Buglife, as well as Scottish Environment Protection Agency, Scottish Natural Heritage and Historic Environment Scotland.
As previously indicated, in November 2019 we consulted on a proposed work programme for substantially reviewing and extending Permitted Development Rights in Scotland along with the Sustainability Appraisal undertaken by consultants to inform the work.
The consultation on the proposed changes to Agriculture, Digital Communications, Active Travel and Peatland Restoration will be published week commencing 21st September with a 6 week period in which to respond (week commencing 6th November). Events will be arranged during that 6 week period to allow people chance to learn more detail about the proposals and to ask questions.
Some limited consultation has been undertaken with businesses in advance of the public consultation to help shape our proposals. As indicated above further engagement will be undertaken during the consultation period to help inform our final proposals for change. Outlined below is an indication of the engagement already undertaken.
Do Nothing – all classes
No changes would be made to the General Permitted Development Order with current restrictions on development remaining in place.
Option 1 – changes proposed by consultation paper
The General Permitted Development Order would be updated to extend the types of development which will not require the submission of a full application for planning permission.
Sectors and groups affected
Permitted Development Rights mainly affect directly residents, developers, landowners, community groups and planning authorities. Landowners and developers may include individual persons as well as business interests. Where PDR encourage development, then the wider public can also experience any associated benefits and/or any negative impacts of the development itself.
Extending PDR will help to improve certainty of outcome for developers, and can help to reduce timescales for securing any necessary permissions or approvals.
By removing more proposals from the planning application process, the proposals will also help free up resources for Planning Authorities. Where prior approval is required, these benefits may be offset in part by the need to submit an application for prior approval.
However, the fee for prior approval would be less than that for an application for planning permission.
Extending PDR could:
- encourage development and improve digital connectivity,
- allow farmers/landowners to erect larger buildings to house machinery or convert existing buildings to residential or commercial uses, allowing them to diversify their current business,
- allow residents to erect containers to store bikes/scooters or other mobility devices, freeing up space within stairwells in tenement properties or within residential properties and improving access to wheeled transport; and
- encourage peatland restoration as a means to offset carbon emissions (and other environmental improvements).
All of this will benefit both businesses and the general public.
The need for improved and effective connectivity has become even more important given the nation's reliability on the use of digital communications in the Covid-19 pandemic, where we have seen significant demand on connectivity for home working, video conferencing, health consultations, public services, on line shopping etc. The benefits of enhanced digital connectivity also result in less travel which contributes significantly towards climate change measures by reducing carbon footprint. By decreasing planning controls in certain areas this will also reduce the burden on planning authorities and, therefore, speed up deployment of such infrastructure.
In 2019-20 there was 261 applications which were for telecommunications infrastructure. Of these it is not clear how many would be removed from the planning application process as a direct result of the proposals.
Peatlands cover more than 20% of Scotland's land area. Healthy peat plays a vital role in carbon storage and combating the effects of climate change, and in maintaining Scotland's water quality and rich biodiversity. Peatlands reduce flood risk and support farming and crofting. They are also part of the wild landscapes that attract tourists to Scotland.
Healthy peatlands provide many benefits to us all – but not all of our peatlands are in good health. It is estimated that 80% of Scotland's peatlands are damaged.
There have been limited numbers of applications for planning permission up to now for Peatland Restoration projects, though currently there are in the region of 70 projects started each year. In future the scale and number of projects is expected to rise in line with the target of restoring 20, 000 hectares of peatland per annum. These factors will likely affect the extent to which the question of whether planning permission is required and so, in the absence of permitted development rights, lead to requests for planning applications despite such projects being regarded as having positive impacts and minimal risks.
During the Review of the Planning System one of the most popular ideas on our digital forum was for the removal of the need to apply for planning permission to erect a storage unit in which to store bicycles. During the Covid-19 pandemic there has been a significant increase in the number of people cycling with many bike shops being sold out of stock or there being long waiting times to service bikes.
With this increase comes the need to provide safe and secure storage for people when at home and when undertaking errands or commuting. In our recent call for ideas for National Planning Framework 4 a requirement for secure cycle storage was also highlighted. The proposed changes will provide residents, particularly those in flats or who only have access to a garden at the front of their property, with the ability to erect a storage shed in which to store their bicycle removing the need to either carry a bike upstairs or access the rear of the property. This can have an important impact by ensuring that people have easy access to safe and secure storage. This could increase the use of bikes by making it more straightforward to access a bicycle to carry out day to day tasks.
Our proposals are intended to support the rural economy and complement wider Scottish Government initiatives to support Scotland's rural economy and promote rural repopulation. Amongst other things, our proposals may help to support succession planning for farms, economic diversification and sustainable communities in rural areas. The proposed PDR are subject to conditions and limitations in order to limit potential harm to local amenity.
For the Active Travel and Agriculture categories the Planning Statistics are not broken down to a level which will provide an accurate picture of how many applications are currently considered and how many applications for full planning permission will be removed by the changes which are being proposed. It may also be the case that the requirement to apply for planning permission currently acts as a deterrent due to cost or complexity, therefore granting permitted development rights may actually encourage people to carry out development.
It Is expected that the proposed changes will result in savings for both planning authorities by removing the need to determine applications and to applicants in them not requiring to pay for the submission of a full planning application.
However, initially, savings may be partially offset by some indirect costs to business in ascertaining whether or not development is permitted development, and in complying with planning enforcement were any work inadvertently carried out which subsequently transpires not to benefit from PDR. However, such costs are anticipated to be minimal and short-term and will naturally fall away as developers become familiar with the changes.
In peatland restoration, costs to the environment may arise where, given the proposed very broad PDR, the level of oversight via public financial support (such as Peatland Action) or through the Peatland Code (anticipated in most cases) do not apply to a project, and a badly designed project is implemented.
Given that the likelihood of projects coming forward without public support and consideration by Peatland Action and/or the Peatland Code is low we do not consider this to be likely but we will consider whether any new guidance is necessary to further reduce the likelihood of any such errors.
For developments which do not already benefit from permitted development rights an application for planning permission is required to be submitted. The fee for submitting an application for development within the curtilage of a dwellinghouse is currently £202 with most other types of development starting at £401 and increasing on an incremental basis based on the size of the development. Applications for Prior Approval generally attract a fee of £78 although the fee for Telecommunication Masts is £300.
Scottish Firms Impact Test
As indicated we have had limited face to face discussions with firms/ organisations about our proposals however, this will take place during the consultation period.
We do not consider that the proposed changes across the 4 areas of Agriculture, Digital, Active travel or Peatland Restoration will negatively impact on competition. It is considered that the proposed changes will not limit the number or range of suppliers, the ability of suppliers to compete, suppliers' incentives to compete vigorousl,; or the choices and information available to consumers.
We do not consider that the proposed changes across the 4 areas of Agriculture, Digital, Active travel or Peatland Restoration negatively impact on consumers. It is considered that the proposed changes will not affect the quality, availability or price of any goods or services in a market, affect the essential services market, such as energy or water, involve storage or increased use of consumer data, increase opportunities for unscrupulous suppliers to target consumers, impact the information available to consumers on either goods or services or their rights in relation to these, or affect routes for consumers to seek advice or raise complaints on consumer issues.
Test run of business forms
No new forms will be introduced.
Digital Impact Test
It is considered that the proposed changes will not be impacted by changes to processes brought about by digital transformation by removing the need to apply for planning permission in many instances.
Legal Aid Impact Test
It is considered that the proposed changes will not give rise to increased use of legal processes or create new rights or responsibilities which would impact on the legal aid fund.
Enforcement, sanctions and monitoring
Planning legislation sets out that enforcement is the responsibility of the planning authority in which a breach of planning controlhas taken place. Scottish Government guidance encourages the informal resolution of alleged breaches of planning control. Where it is established that there has been a breach and informal measures are unsuccessful in resolving the matter, there is a range of formal enforcement powers available to planning authorities.
Implementation and delivery plan
The consultation will be published week commencing 28th September with a 6 week period in which to respond (ending on 12 November). Following the closure of the consultation period analysis of the responses will be undertaken and regulations will be drafted with a view to them being laid week commencing 14th December. The regulations will then come into force in March 2021.
Once the final regulations are prepared we will consider whether additional guidance, advice and information if required for developers and planning authorities on the interpretation of the revised GPDO.
As noted in the Post Adoption Statement that accompanies this consultation we will give further consideration to monitoring and set out our proposals following the consultation. This could involve various approaches and combinations of approach, such as liaison with planning authorities, developers and statutory bodies, as well as commissioning research. Subsequent Phases of the PDR programme will consider changes to PDR for other development types.
Summary and recommendation
Extending the scope of permitted development rights can deliver benefits to both authorities and applicants. By extending the types of development which are granted permitted development rights thus removing the need to submit a full planning application it can free up local authorities to focus on the developments where they can add most value and it can provide applicants with the certainty that they can proceed with development without the cost and delay that submitting and application for planning permission can entail. It is recommended that the proposals to extend permitted development rights are progressed as outlined in the consultation paper.
Summary costs and benefits table
Total benefit per annum:
Total cost per annum:
Current situation is maintained which is understood by applicants and authorities.
Applications will continue to be processed by planning authorities which will require fees to be paid and delay in implementing any proposals as applications are determined. Failure to progress with our proposals could risk an increase in active travel, the restoration of our valuable peatlands, delays the expansion of telecommunication infrastructure and restricts the potential diversification of rural buildings and the safe storage of agricultural machinery.
Over the short term there is potential for uncertainty while parties familiarise themselves with the scope of the new provisions. Guidance should help to overcome such transitional issues.
Declaration and publication
I have read the Business and Regulatory Impact Assessment and I am satisfied that, given the available evidence, it represents a reasonable view of the likely costs, benefits and impact of the leading options. I am satisfied that business impact has been assessed with the support of businesses in Scotland.
Signed: Kevin Stewart
Date: 29th September 2020
Minister's name: Kevin Stewart
Minister's title: Minister for Local Government, Housing and Planning
Scottish Government Contact point: Neil Langhorn, Planning & Architecture Division