Planning Circular 3/2013: Development management procedures (withdrawn)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 This has been replaced by a new Circular – Circular 3/2022 – on Development Management Procedures, published on 21 October 2022.

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 ( SSI 2013/ 155) and the relevant provisions of the Town and Country Planning (Scotland) Act 1997 as amended (primarily amendments by the Planning etc. (Scotland) Act 2006 [6] ). 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.

1.2 This circular also includes guidance on the provisions of the Town and Country Planning (Charges for Publication of Notices) (Scotland) Regulations 2009.

1.3 The development management system should operate in support of the Scottish Government's central purpose - increased sustainable economic growth. This means providing greater certainty and speed of decision making as a means of creating economically, environmentally and socially sustainable places. Scottish Planning Policy elaborates upon this role for development management.

1.4 The circular follows the various stages of processing: the pre-application phase; content of applications; validation and acknowledgement; processing by the authority; 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.

1.5 The circular makes reference 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:

1.6 Further information on making planning applications online can be found at:

Pre-application Phase

1.7 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 Section 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 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 and decisions by full council 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 Processes

1.12 The circular explains the requirements 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.

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 development. The circular provides guidance on the preparation, form and content of processing agreements.


Email: Scottish Government Planning,

Back to top