Planning circular 3/2022: development management procedures

Circular 3/2022 provides guidance on the procedures governing applications for planning permission. It supersedes circular 3/2013.

1. Introduction

1.1 This circular describes the requirements for processing planning applications contained in the Town and Country Planning (Development Management Procedure) (Scotland) Regulations 2013 (as amended) and the relevant provisions of the Town and Country Planning (Scotland) Act 1997 (as amended). As well as giving an overview of the development management system, the circular will help planning authorities, applicants, communities and others to understand how the legislation works. It supersedes Circular 3/2013 on Development Management Procedures.

1.2 This circular also includes guidance on the Town and Country Planning (Charges for Publication of Notices) (Scotland) Regulations 2009 (see paragraphs 4.40 to 4.41).

1.3 This circular follows the various stages of processing: the pre-application phase; content of applications; validation and acknowledgement; processing by the authority; and decision and post-application requirements. The circular also describes the differing requirements for applications in each of the categories of development in the planning hierarchy, namely national, major and local developments.

1.4 There are references throughout this document to the provisions governing the planning hierarchy as well as to legislation for appeals and local reviews. These mechanisms are all explained in more detail in separate circulars, available at:

Planning circulars: index - (

1.5 References in this circular to planning permission include planning permission in principle unless reference is made to specific provisions or requirements relating to planning permission in principle.

1.6 Planning applications can be made online. More information can be found at

Pre-Application Phase

1.7 Chapter 2 of the circular promotes early and open negotiations between prospective applicants, planning authorities and other parties, such as statutory consultees, in advance of the formal application for national and major developments, and local developments where warranted. It also sets out the requirements for statutory pre-application consultation (PAC) with communities for national and major developments. This part of the circular also sets out good practice in relation to PAC.

Making a Planning Application

1.8 Chapter 3 of the circular relates to applications for planning permission, planning permission in principle, approval of matters specified in conditions (related to planning permission in principle) and the streamlined requirements for applications for permission for development previously granted planning permission ("further applications"). Guidance is included on the content of applications.

Processing Applications

1.9 Chapter 4 of the circular explains requirements for: putting applications on the register; the list of extant applications and weekly lists; carrying out neighbour notification (the responsibility of the planning authority); and any newspaper notices which may be required.

1.10 The circular sets out the requirements for pre-determination hearings, which apply to applications for major developments which are significantly contrary to the development plan and national developments.

1.11 The requirements for reports on handling and decision notices are also included in this part of the circular.

Post Decision Provisions

1.12 Chapter 5 of the circular explains the requirements on developers for notices of initiation of development, notices of completion of development and on-site notices and covers the information which must be submitted, or displayed, in these notices. In the case of on-site notices, it sets out the classes of developments for which a notice has to be displayed. This chapter also includes guidance on notices requiring the completion of development ('completion notices') which may be issued by planning authorities.

Processing Agreements

1.13 Whilst not a statutory requirement, a processing agreement is a very effective project management tool, particularly for the handling of applications proposing substantial/complex development. Chapter 6 of the circular provides guidance on the preparation, form and content of processing agreements.



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