Publication - FOI/EIR release

Recreational Huts and Building Standards: EIR release

Information request and response under the Environmental Information (Scotland) Regulations 2004.

Published:
8 May 2019
Recreational Huts and Building Standards: EIR release
FOI reference: FOI/19/01020
Date received: 9 Apr 2019
Date responded: 7 May 2019
Information requested


1. What is the definition of a recreational hut in Scotland?

2. How much time are hutters officially allowed to spend at their huts?

3. What designation of land types can huts be built on?

4. What is the Scottish Government policy and current legislation with regards to Recreational Huts?

5. Is this policy and legislation being successfully applied across all 32 local authorities through the planning departments? How is this monitored? Is there parity of approach across the local authorities?

Response


As the information you have requested is ‘environmental information’ for the purposes of the Environmental Information (Scotland) Regulations 2004 (EIRs), we are required to deal with your request under those Regulations. We are applying the exemption at section 39(2) of the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 (FOISA), so that we do not also have to deal with your request under FOISA.

This exemption is subject to the ‘public interest test’. Therefore, taking account of all the circumstances of this case, we have considered if the public interest in disclosing the information outweighs the public interest in applying the exemption. We have found that, on balance, the public interest lies in favour of upholding the exemption, because there is no public interest in dealing with the same request under two different regimes. This is essentially a technical point and has no material effect on the outcome of your request.

Please see below for some of the information you requested in response to your questions on hutting;

1. What is the definition of a recreational hut in Scotland?

Scottish Planning Policy (SPP) which is Scottish Government policy on how nationally important land use planning matters should be addressed across the country, sets outs a definition of a 'hut' in its glossary as follows;

Hut - A simple building used intermittently as recreational accommodation (ie. not a principal residence); having an internal floor area of no more than 30m2; constructed from low impact materials; generally not connected to mains water, electricity or sewerage; and built in such a way that it is removable with little or no trace at the end of its life. Huts may be built singly or in groups.
With regard to The Building (Scotland) Regulations 2004 (building regulations) a ‘hut’ is not defined. The building regulations set out types of buildings and work that are exempt from building regulations Schedule 1 to Regulation 3, or can be done without a building warrant as long as they meet the building regulations Schedule 3 to Regulation 5.
The most appropriate type for a “recreational hut” to be considered under would be Type 23A. As long as the building work meets the conditions set out below a building warrant would not be required.
Type 23A is A detached single-storey building used for shelter or sleeping in connection with recreation.

Exceptions
•A dwelling.
•A building having an area exceeding 30 square metres.
•A building ancillary to another building.
•A building within 6 metres of a boundary or of another building.
•Any wastewater disposal system serving a building of this type.
•A building containing a gallery* or galleries unless the gallery, or where there is more than one gallery, the galleries together occupy an area not more than -
a.8 square metres, or
b.one-half of the area of the room or space in which it is situated, whichever is the lesser.
*Interpretation of this paragraph. In this paragraph, "gallery" means a raised floor or platform which is open to the room or space into which it projects and is not enclosed below.

2. How much time are hutters officially allowed to spend at their huts?

Neither SPP nor The Building (Scotland) Regulations 2004 specify a time period for any building falling under Type 23A. In such cases the building must not be used as a “dwelling”. A dwelling is defined for the purposes building regulations as:
Dwelling means a unit of residential accommodation occupied (whether or not as a sole or main residence):
a. by an individual or by individuals living together as a family; or
b. by not more than six individuals living together as a single household (including a household where care is provided for residents)
and includes any surgeries, consulting rooms, offices or other accommodation, of a floor area not exceeding in the aggregate 50 square meters, forming part of a dwelling and used by an occupant of the dwelling in a professional or business capacity.
The SPP definition, set out above mentions – ‘A simple building used intermittently as a recreational accommodation (Ie. Not a principal Residence).

3. What designation of land types can huts be built on?

This is not set out in Building Standards regulations. In terms of planning policy, a planning application for a hut would be determined by a local authority in accordance with a their development plan and material considerations.

4. What is the Scottish Government policy and current legislation with regards to Recreational Huts

In terms of current regulations, please see response to Question 1, which sets out the relevant sections of The Building (Miscellaneous Amendments) (Scotland) Regulations 2017.
In relation to policy on huts, Scottish Planning Policy (SPP) in the promoting rural development section sets out in paragraph 79, that; plans should set out a spatial strategy which: where appropriate, sets out policies and proposals for leisure accommodation, such as holiday units, caravans, and huts.

5. Is this policy and legislation being successfully applied across all 32 local authorities through the planning departments? How is this monitored? Is there parity of approach across the local authorities?

Under the terms of the exception at regulation 10(4)(a) of the EIRs (information not held), the Scottish Government is not required to provide information which it does not have.
The Scottish Government does not have the information you have requested because Scottish Government puts in place relevant planning legislation and policies and publishes guidance and advice to planning authorities. It is for the planning authority to interpret and implement that legislation, policy, advice and guidance as it deems appropriate and to ensure that the provisions of the planning system are applied properly. As independent corporate bodies, whose powers and duties are set out in statute law, local authorities are free to exercise discretion within the law so far as carrying out their planning functions are concerned.

The Scottish Government has, however, commissioned research which will provide a database of development plan policies across Scotland and how these relate to current policies in the SPP, including those for huts. This research is expected to be completed in the summer.
This exception - 10(4)(a) - is subject to the ‘public interest test’. Therefore, taking account of all the circumstances of this case, we have considered if the public interest in disclosing the information outweighs the public interest in applying the exception. We have found that, on balance, the public interest lies in favour of upholding the exception. While we recognise that there may be some public interest in information about whether policy and legislation is being successfully applied, how is this monitored and if is there parity of approach across the local authorities - clearly we cannot provide information which we do not hold.

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Contact

Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit
Email: ceu@gov.scot
Phone: 0300 244 4000

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