Planning Circular 3/2013: Development management procedures (withdrawn)

Guidance on the requirements in relation to applications for planning permission. This has been replaced by a new Circular – Circular 3/2022 – on Development Management Procedures, published on 21 October 2022.

Annex F: Pre-Determination Hearings Procedures

1. Mandatory pre-determination hearings under section 38A will be held by a committee of the authority, in whatever format adopted by the authority. Planning authorities may consider developing, consulting on and publishing standard procedures for pre-hearing arrangements (invitations, availability of information etc.), hearing arrangements 'on the day' and any post-hearing recording and follow-up. Any hearing should take place after the expiry of the period for making representations on the application but before the planning authority decides the application. It will be for the committee to decide whether it wishes to have hearings on the same day as the related planning applications are determined by full Council, or to make alternative arrangements.

2. Among the issues that planning authorities will wish to consider in determining their procedure for pre-determination hearings are:

  • the order of proceedings (for example, the applicant and those who made representations to address Committee in turn);
  • to avoid repetition it may be necessary to ask one objector to speak on behalf of a group of objectors rather than allowing all objectors a right to address the Committee individually;
  • the maximum time available for applicants. Rules governing witnesses and those who made representations to present their cases and respond to each other's statements;
  • the opportunity for Committee members to ask questions of applicants, consultees, objectors and supporters;
  • the opportunity for Committee members to ask for additional advice and information from planning officials;

Other applications for which planning authorities may require Hearings

3. Under section 38A(4), the planning authority may decide to hold a hearing for any development not covered by the requirements of section 38A and to give the applicant and any other person an opportunity of appearing before and being heard by the committee. Examples of other categories of development which planning authorities might decide require hearings include applications in which the local authority has a financial interest, or applications that have attracted a given number and type of objections or applications relating to development in sensitive areas protected by statutory designations. There are no related legislative requirements to refer such cases to full council for decision.


Email: Scottish Government Planning,

Back to top