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.
This document is part of a collection
3. Making a Planning Application
Content of Planning Applications
(Regulations 9 – 12)
3.1 Applicants should use the e-form for online applications or its paper equivalent produced by the Scottish Government. The DMR contain the minimum requirements for an application and accompanying documentation (termed "the application" in this section of the circular), the receipt of which starts the period for determination. Where the planning authority uses its own application form, it must ensure that the form contains the minimum requirements set out in the DMR.
3.2 Where information is provided in accordance with the minimum statutory requirements, that establishes the validation date (see paragraphs 4.8 to 4.10) and the application must be registered as valid. Additional information might be required in order to determine an application for development in certain circumstances, but requests for such additional information should not delay the process of validation and registration and do not determine the validation date.
3.3 Applicants are encouraged to think beyond the statutory minimum requirements for an application and try to anticipate, in discussion with the planning authority, what additional information might be needed to support efficient processing of the application (see paragraphs 2.2 – 2.6).
Applications for planning permission
(Regulations 9 and 4A(3))
3.4 The required content of an application for planning permission, other than planning permission in principle, is as follows (see also paragraph 4.130 on national security):
(a) a written description of the development to which it relates;
(b) the postal address of the land to which the proposed development relates, or, if the land in question has no postal address, a description of its location;
(c) the name and address of the applicant and, where there is an agent, the name and address of that agent;
(d) a plan:
(i) sufficient to identify the land to which it relates; and
(ii) showing the situation of the land in relation to the locality and in particular in relation to neighbouring land;
(e) such other plans and drawings as are necessary to describe the development;
(f) where any neighbouring land is owned by the applicant, a plan identifying that land;
(g) one or other of the certificates required under regulation 15 in relation to owners and agricultural tenants;
(h) where the application relates to a national development or a major development, and no exemption applies, a written pre-application consultation report;
(i) where the application relates to an installation of an antenna to be employed in an electronic communication network, an ICNIRP declaration;
(j) a design statement or a design and access statement where required by regulation 13;
(k) where the application relates to Crown land, a statement that the application is made in respect of Crown land; and
(l) any fee payable under the Fees Regulations.
3.5 Where applications are for developments to which PAC requirements apply, but reliance is being placed on an exemption, applicants are to include a statement to that effect (regulation 4A(3)).
Plans and drawings
3.6 The plans and drawings submitted must accurately describe the proposals and accord with the written description of the development. Annex D describes the main types of plan that are commonly submitted. Not every plan described in Annex D will be required in every case.
Applications for planning permission in principle
(Regulations 10 and 4A(3))
3.7 There are differences between the requirements for the content of applications and accompanying documents for planning permission in principle and those for detailed planning permission. With planning permission in principle, and with reference to the list in paragraph 3.4, there is:
- no requirement for plans and drawings (other than a location plan and any plan showing any neighbouring land owned by the applicant);
- no requirement for a design or design and access statement to be prepared; and
- a requirement to describe the location of the access points to the development from a road where this is not otherwise detailed in the application and accompanying documents.
3.8 Where a PAC exemption is being relied upon, then a statement to that effect is required under regulation 4A(3)).
3.9 It is for the applicant to decide what level of detail they wish to provide. However, it is open to planning authorities to require additional information using regulation 24 (Further Information) where necessary to determine the application. While planning permission in principle is to establish the acceptability of a proposal in principle without having to develop the detailed proposals, applicants should discuss with planning authorities any additional information that is likely to be required. This may relate to matters such as design or access, transport assessment or the requirements of other legislation (for example, the EIA Regulations or the Habitats Regulations.
(Regulations 11 and 4A(3))
3.10 Regulation 11 provides that where a previous application was granted planning permission, development has not begun and the duration of the previous permission has not expired, a further application for planning permission (or planning permission in principle) for the same development does not need to include all of the information specified in regulations 9 or 10. Regulation 11 also applies to Section 42 Applications.
3.11 The information that must still be included in such further application is:
- the name and address of the applicant, and where an agent is acting on behalf of the applicant, the name and address of that agent;
- where any neighbouring land is owned by the applicant, by a plan identifying that land;
- a certificate regarding the ownership of the proposal site and any agricultural tenants and the notification of these parties about the application;
- where the application relates to national development or major development, a pre-application consultation report (unless an exemption from such consultation applies);
- where the application relates to Crown land, by a statement that the application is made in respect of Crown land;
- any fee payable under the Fees Regulations; and
- where the application is a Section 42 Application, a statement to that effect.
3.12 The application must be in writing (which can include electronic format) and must give enough information to allow the planning authority to identify the previous grant of permission. Other than for Section 42 Applications, where a PAC exemption is being relied upon, a statement to that effect must be submitted with the application (regulation 4A(3)).
Applications for approval of matters specified in conditions
3.13 These applications relate to conditions attached to planning permission in principle requiring the further approval, consent or agreement of the planning authority for any detailed aspect of the development. Regulation 12 applies to all applications for approval of matters specified in conditions attached to planning permission in principle.
3.14 An application in this regard must:
- be in writing (planning authorities may have a form for such applications and applications in this regard can be made electronically);
- identify the planning permission in principle to which it relates;
- contain a description of the matter(s) to which it relates;
- contain the name and address of the applicant and, where an agent is acting on behalf of the applicant, the name and address of that agent;
- be accompanied by plans and drawings sufficient to describe the matter of the application where it involves the alteration or construction of buildings, other structures, roads or landscaping;
- where any neighbouring land is owned by the applicant, by a plan identifying that land; and
- the appropriate fee payable under the Fees Regulations.
3.15 Applications for approval of matters specified in conditions are not applications for planning permission. There are specific fees for such applications and the statutory requirements for PAC and design statements do not apply. However, neighbour notification requirements, and requirements for advertising where neighbour notification cannot be carried out do apply. The aim of these provisions is to ensure that an opportunity is provided for consultation to take place, as the key details of a development that has been approved in principle are being submitted.
3.16 Although sections 58 and 59 make provision for when planning permission would lapse if development is not begun within certain time periods, there are no time periods set during which applications can be submitted for approvals required by conditions on an extant planning permission. There is also no statutory limit on the number of such approvals which can be sought in any one application. Planning authorities may, however, impose conditions on the grant of planning permission or planning permission in principle, which make provision as to the timing of applications for further consent, agreement or approval (see Annex G for more information).
3.17 An authority may, in determining an application for approval, consent, or agreement, grant such an application subject to conditions.
Design Statements and Design and Access Statements
3.18 All applicants, together with developers, architects, designers and agents, should take a design-led approach within the development process. Scottish Ministers recognise the need to deliver high quality and inclusive environments that can be used by everyone, regardless of age, sex or ability. In addition to their duties as public bodies under equalities legislation, Scottish Ministers expect decision makers to seek to eliminate discrimination and promote equality. Planning's important role in the delivery of well-designed, inclusive environments is emphasised in the design series of Planning Advice Notes.
3.19 Certain applications for planning permission must be accompanied by a statement explaining the design principles and concepts that have been applied, and how issues relating to access for disabled people to the development have been dealt with.
3.20 The main aim of the statement is to inform the planning decision-making process. Statements should ensure development proposals are based on a carefully considered design process and address the needs of people with disabilities in terms of access to the development and how such arrangements will be maintained. They should allow the applicant to explain and justify their proposals and help all those assessing the application (including elected members and communities) to understand the design rationale that underpins them.
Applications requiring design or design and access statements
3.21 Applications for planning permission for national and for major developments require design and access statements.
3.22 Applications for planning permission for local development within:
(a) a World Heritage Site;
(b) a conservation area;
(c) a historic garden or designed landscape;
(d) a National Scenic Area;
(e) the site of a scheduled monument; or
(f) the curtilage of a category A listed building
will require a design statement unless the development comprises the alteration or extension of an existing building.
3.23 A design and access statement or design statement is not required for the following categories:
(a) a Section 42 application
(b) an application for planning permission for–
(i) engineering or mining operations;
(ii) householder development; or
(iii) a material change in the use of land or buildings.
(c) an application for planning permission in principle.
3.24 Applications for marine fish farming development only require to be accompanied by a design statement where they are local developments in either a World Heritage Site, National Scenic Area or the site of a scheduled monument, or are major developments. These requirements do not apply where the development consists of an alteration or extension of an existing marine fish farm.
3.25 Applications for planning permission in principle do not need to be accompanied by either a design statement or a design and access statement. In these circumstances, it will be for planning authorities to consider what, if any, additional information is required to enable them to consider the application and to request further information.
Preparation of design statements
3.26 Anyone involved in preparing such a statement should consider where appropriate the advice contained in Planning Advice Note 68: Design Statements. Where Scottish Government policy relates to design, for example the National Planning Framework and the 6 Qualities of Successful Places or Designing Streets, this should be referenced in the statement.
3.27 A design statement is a written statement about the design principles and concepts that have been applied to the development and which:
(i) Explains the policy or approach adopted as to design and how any policies relating to design in the development plan have been taken into account.
(ii) Describes the steps taken to appraise the context of the development and demonstrates how the design of the development takes that context into account in relation to its proposed use.
(iii) States what, if any, consultation has been undertaken on issues relating to the design principles and concepts that have been applied to the development; and what account has been taken of the outcome of any such consultation.
Preparation of design and access statements
3.28 A design and access statement is a document containing both a design statement and written statement about how issues relating to access to the development for disabled people have been dealt with. It must explain the policy or approach adopted as to access and how:
(i) policies relating to such access in the development plan have been taken into account; and
(ii) any specific issues which might affect access to the development for disabled people have been addressed'.
3.29 This should explain how the applicant's policy/approach adopted in relation to access fits into the design process and how this has been informed by any development plan policies relating to access issues.
3.30 Developers should consider setting out in the statement how access arrangements make provision both to and through the site to ensure users have equal and convenient access. Where Scottish Government policy relates to access, for example the number of parking spaces for disabled people, this should be referenced in the statement.
3.31 It is not intended that the statement extends to the consideration of internal aspects of individual buildings. This is a matter better considered under building standards legislation. However, the location and design of doors and windows, etc. will depend on an understanding of the internal layout of a building and may therefore be reflected in the statement.
3.32 The statement must: 'Describe how features which ensure access to the development for disabled people will be maintained'. The arrangements for long-term management and maintenance are as important as the actual design. Therefore, content on maintenance will help the planning authority come to a view on how best, possibly through agreements or conditions, such features are to be maintained in the long term.
3.33 The statement must: 'State what, if any, consultation has been undertaken on issues relating to access to the development for disabled people and what account has been taken of the outcome of any such consultation' (see paragraphs 3.34 – 3.35).
3.34 There is no statutory requirement to undertake formal consultation as a part of the preparation of design or design and access statements. Where consultation has been undertaken, this must be included in the statement with an indication of how this has influenced the final proposal. The statement should indicate with whom consultation was undertaken: for example, community groups, user groups or statutory consultees. Local Access Panels are a useful source to consult on access issues, as they are able to give advice based on personal experience and local knowledge. A list of access panels is available from Access Panel Network - Access Panels in Scotland.
3.35 PAC on national and major developments may also provide an opportunity to inform the design and access statement with the views of the community.
Presentation of information
3.36 Whilst required to be in writing, a statement can be presented in various formats. It can be presented on one or two pages, in a small booklet, an A4 or A3 document, a fold-out sheet, a display board or electronically. Within the parameters set by the 1997 Act and the DMR, it will be for the applicant to consider the most effective form of presentation. However, where both design and access must be covered then the statement should, where possible, be a single document. The precise form of a statement and the level of detail it contains will vary according to the size, nature and complexity of the proposed development.
Advice and guidance on access
3.37 The general principles set out in Planning Advice Note 68 for the preparation of a design statement should be considered when a design and access statement is being prepared. Some guidance and advice is available within Scottish Government planning documents on how these issues should be addressed:
Planning and architecture - gov.scot (www.gov.scot) .
3.38 As the advice and guidance contained in these documents may be material considerations, developers, architects and designers should refer to these as appropriate.
Considering the content of the statement
3.39 The design of a proposed development and its relationship to its surroundings may be a material consideration. Where a design or design and access statement is required, the information within the statement may be material and in such cases must be taken into account by the planning authority when considering the proposed development.
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