3. Revised Work Programme and Phasing
3.1 Following the earlier consultation the Proposed Work Programme has been revised taking into account a number of considerations, including:
- The impact of the Coronavirus pandemic on the Scottish economy and society and the enforced delay in taking forward work on amendments to PDR due to the need to divert staff resource to tackle the emergency;
- Informed by the SA findings, the potential contribution that amendments to PDR for particular development types could make to the delivery of Scottish Government priorities and strategic outcomes – and in particular the potential contribution to economic and social recovery from the pandemic; and
- Feedback from the consultation responses on the Proposed Work Programme and the Sustainability Appraisal.
3.2 As a result of these multiple and interconnected considerations a number of changes to the Proposed Work Programme have been made. These include:
- The retention of digital communications infrastructure, agricultural developments and peatland restoration in Phase 1 of the programme. This reflects the positive contribution that each can make to economic recovery (particularly in fragile and remote rural areas), the importance to society and day to day life of good digital connectivity, and the potential significant positive effects on climate change of changes to PDR for peatland restoration and digital communications. Mitigation of the potential negative impacts of changes to PDR for these development types forms an important component of the detailed proposals for change for each.
- The movement of changes to PDR for development related to active travel from Phase 2 to Phase 1. This reflects the significant increase in levels of walking and cycling witnessed during the pandemic and a desire to capitalise on this, to maximise the positive impacts for human health and climate via reduced greenhouse gas emissions.
- The movement of PDR for town centre changes of use from Phase 3 to Phase 2. This reflects the expectation that changes to our town centres are likely to be accelerated by the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic and the important role that changes to PDR here may play in enabling adjustments which will encourage vitality in town centres. In addition, we consider that any potential changes to PDR in this area should be informed by the conclusions of the Town Centre Action Plan Expert Review Group, which is due to report to Ministers later in 2020.
- The movement of consideration of changes to PDR for hill tracks (private ways) from Phase 1 to Phase 3 and for micro-renewables from Phase 1 to a later phase. This largely reflects the range of development types within the micro-renewables category, the complexity of the issues around these development types and the recognition that more time will be needed to fully explore how changes to PDR might most effectively maximise positive impacts and mitigate any potential negative impacts arising.
- In addition, in light of recommended support for the tourism sector from the report of the Advisory Group on Economic Recovery, the Planning and Architecture Division undertook to engage with snowsports operators, to seek their views on whether the options covered in the sustainability appraisal have potential to support economic recovery as part of Phase 1. However, discussions with the sector indicated that the scale of development that could reasonably be granted PDR in the sensitive areas in which the centres are located would not be of value to the sector, and therefore there is not a clear basis for including a proposition in Phase 1.
3.3 Where responses to the previous consultation suggested additional development types for PDR these have been noted but are not currently being considered for inclusion in the work programme. This is because either the suggestions received were not considered to be suitable for the granting of PDR and/or because inclusion would require significant additional work to identify and assess the likely environmental, social and economic impacts and/or the changes are not considered a priority at this time. Some minor changes that have not previously been subject to assessment have been added to the proposals for change for the development types in Phase 1. Where this is the case these have been subject to assessment, the results of which are set out in the update to the Sustainability Appraisal published alongside this consultation.
3.4 Table 1 sets out the proposed new phasing for our PDR Work Programme. We will continue to revisit this and update it as required, and will begin work on future development types when resources and opportunities permit.
Table 1. Revised Work Programme
Phase 1 – regulations to be laid December 2020
- Digital telecommunications infrastructure
- Agricultural developments
- Peatland restoration
- Developments relating to active travel
Phase 2 – beginning January 2021
- Town centre changes of use
- Electric vehicle charging infrastructure
Phase 3 – beginning Spring 2021
- Hill tracks (private ways)
Phases 4 and beyond – beginning Autumn 2021 & subsequently
- Micro-renewables (domestic and non-domestic)
- District heating and supporting infrastructure
- Energy storage (domestic and non-domestic)
- Householder developments
- Defibrillator cabinets
- Habitat pond creation
- Allotments and community growing schemes
3.5 The following sections summarise our proposals for changes and extensions to PDR for the four priority development types in Phase 1 of the programme and on which we are seeking views. When proposing changes to PDR for a particular development type consideration has been given to what is granted planning permission, what limitations (if any) should be placed on that permission, and what conditions (if any) should apply to its use.