Masterplan Consent Areas - draft regulations: consultation

This consultation relates to proposed regulations on the procedures to prepare Masterplan Consent Areas (MCA). It sets out the proposed procedures and includes two sets of regulations: covering the main process for making MCA schemes and relating to environmental impact assessment.


1. This consultation paper relates to proposed regulations on the procedures to prepare Masterplan Consent Areas (MCAs).

Legislative Background

2. The Planning (Scotland) Act 2019 (the 2019 Act), which made changes to the Town and Country Planning (Scotland) Act 1997 (the 1997 Act), introduces MCAs as a new upfront consenting mechanism for development proposals. Part 2 of the 2019 Act (Section 15) covers MCAs, although it has not yet been commenced (i.e. it does not yet have legal effect). Section 15 of the 2019 Act amends the 1997 Act to insert new sections 54A-F and new schedule 5A, which relate to MCAs.

3. MCAs are similar to Simplified Planning Zones (SPZs), provided for in sections 49 to 54 and schedule 5 of the 1997 Act (as amended), but refreshed and rebranded with expanded powers. MCAs will be broader in scope, being able to give other types of authorisations than just planning permission, and the procedures for preparing a scheme have been modernised.

4. The 1997 Act provides that planning authorities will be able to prepare a MCA ‘Scheme’ setting out the detail of what they are giving consent for, through the MCA scheme. MCA schemes can give several types of consent, including planning permission, plus roads construction consent, listed building consent and conservation area consent – where provided for in the particular MCA scheme. The MCA scheme can include conditions, limitations and exceptions which may cover aspects such as development parameters, design and environmental matters.

5. Within adopted MCA areas, development could be brought forward without the need for an application as long as it is in line with the agreed scheme.

6. New section 54A introduces new schedule 5A which provides more detail on the process for making and altering MCA schemes, and gives the Scottish Ministers powers in connection with such schemes, including regulation making powers to allow the Scottish Ministers to provide further detailed requirements, and direction making powers.

7. While MCAs will not be part of the development plan, they will be a delivery mechanism which can support the spatial strategy and policies and proposals in the development plan.

8. Section 16 of the 2019 Act amends the 1997 Act to provide for a bar to creation of new simplified planning zones (SPZs). It has not yet been commenced, however our intention is to commence that, prior to the new regulations for MCAs coming into force.

Approach to Regulations

9. A lot of detail on the process of preparing a MCA scheme is already set out in the new Schedule 5A of the 1997 Act.

10. Part of our wider work on planning reform and implementation of the 2019 Act is the preparation of regulations, or secondary legislation, to provide additional necessary detail.

11. It should be noted that there are some aspects in relation to MCAs where there is a legal requirement for Ministers to set out certain provisions in regulations, while some other aspects are at Scottish Ministers’ discretion to regulate.

12. Two sets of draft regulations have been prepared:

  • The Town and Country Planning (Masterplan Consent Areas) (Scotland) Regulations 2024 (Annex A). These regulations provide additional procedural detail around the requirements set out in the new Schedule 5A for preparing MCA schemes across Scotland.
  • The Masterplan Consent Area Scheme (Environmental Impact Assessment) (Scotland) Regulations 2024 (Annex B). These seek to mirror the provisions within The Town and Country Planning (Environmental Impact Assessment) Regulations 2017.

13. There is benefit in working to the principle that regulations are kept to the minimum necessary. The Verity House Agreement sets out a collaborative approach, based on mutual trust and respect between the Scottish Government and local authorities. We expect there to be local variation in how planning authorities implement MCAs. To provide for maximum flexibility and resilience, much of the detail of Scottish Ministers’ expectations for implementation of the new system will be set out in guidance. Following the emergence of good practice, subsequent guidance may offer more advice on form and content of MCAs and may include templates to assist MCA preparation.

Question 1:

A) To what extent do you agree with the principle that regulations be kept to the minimum necessary and that more advice be offered in guidance and kept updated?

a) Strongly Agree b) Agree c) Neutral d) Disagree e) Strongly Disagree

B) Please explain your view.



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