Annex E: Draft Island Communities Impact Assessment
This consultation stage assessment relates to Phase 2 of the Scottish Government's Review of Permitted Development Rights. The background to the proposals are contained in the main body of the Phase 2 consultation paper.
The Islands (Scotland) Act 2018 (the 2018 Act)
Section 8 of the Islands (Scotland) Act 2018 states that Scottish Ministers must prepare an Island Communities Impact Assessment (ICIA) in relation to a policy, strategy, or service, which, in its opinion, is likely to have an effect on an island community which is significantly different from its effect on other communities (including other island communities) in the area in which the authority exercises its functions. These provisions came into force on 23 December 2020. In December 2020 the Scottish Government published guidance and a toolkit for the preparation of ICIAs.
Permitted development rights (PDR) refer to those forms of development which are granted planning permission through national legislation, meaning they can be carried out without a planning application having to be submitted to (and approved by) the local authority. Specifically, PDR are contained within the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (Scotland) Order 1992 ("the GPDO").
The Scottish Government is currently undertaking a review of PDR in Scotland. This review involves taking forward new and extended PDR for a wide range of development types. Through Phase 2 of the programme, we are considering how changes to PDR, as well as the Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) (Scotland) Order 1997 (UCO), could help to support:
- The rollout of electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure.
- The resilience and recovery of city, town and local centres.
- Operational development at Scottish ports
The measures proposed as part of Phase 2 would:
- Increase the scale of EV chargers that may be installed under PDR, broaden the locations where PDR apply and extend the scope of the PDR to include associated apparatus and equipment.
- Provide greater flexibility to change the use of certain buildings and place furniture outside premises.
- Align port operators' PDR with those of airports.
Any changes to PDR and/or the UCO would be Scotland-wide.
Data Gathering and Consultation
The proposals have been informed by a sustainability appraisal incorporating Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) requirements, which was subject to public consultation in November 2019. The Phase 2 proposals are accompanied by an update to the sustainability appraisal and draft SEA Post Adoption Statement.
The Phase 2 consultation will run for three months, during which the public will be able to comment on the proposals – as well as the draft analysis in this consultation stage assessment. We will engage with Island authorities during the consultation period to gather further evidence about the impact of our proposals.
EV Charging Infrastructure
The National Islands Plan Survey (July 2021) found that 3% of islands use EVs. Related to this, the ICIA accompanying the National Transport Strategy 2 Delivery Plan (October 2021) highlights a lack of EV charging infrastructure on the islands. It notes that increased provision could:
- Facilitate greater use of EVs on the islands.
- Help to support tourism by enabling visitors to charge safely.
- Support resilience of freight transport coming to and from islands.
- Create job opportunities linked to installation and maintenance of chargers.
This would suggest that the Phase 2 measures related to provision of EV chargers would have a positive impact on island communities.
Changes of Use in Centres
Through Phase 2 we are considering the introduction of new PDR and/or changes to the UCO which, in summary, would provide greater flexibility to change the use of certain buildings and place furniture outside premises without a planning application having to be approved. Such measures are intended to support the resilience, recovery and regeneration of Scotland's centres. If taken forward they would apply across the whole of Scotland – including the Islands. To the extent that the measures support these outcomes, they should have a positive impact on island communities.
One of the specific measures under consideration is to merge a number of existing UCO use classes into a more general class: this was a recommendation of the Town Centre Review Group in their report A New Future for Scotland's Town Centres (February 20201). The effect of merging classes would therefore be to take additional changes of use out of the scope of planning control.
Such an amendment could help centres to become more flexible and responsive to changing circumstances; it would also reflect the extent to which centres (and the pressures they face) have evolved in recent years. However, the Phase 2 consultation and the accompanying Business and Regulatory Impact Assessment (BRIA) acknowledge that a deregulatory change of this nature could lead to a loss and/or concentrations of certain uses in particular locations. For example, the proposed merging of Classes 1, 2 and 3 would allow shops to change to cafes or restaurants without planning permission. Where communities are served by a single shop or general store, this has the potential to reduce the accessibility of local services. This could be a particular issue in rural areas, including Island communities. The Phase 2 consultation therefore seeks additional views and evidence on this potential issue.
The proposals we are seeking views on through the Phase 2 consultation would apply to all ports to which PDR under Class 35 of the GPDO are applicable – including island ports. The impacts and outcomes of the proposed measures are not expected to differ in the islands notwithstanding the particular importance of ports to island communities.
The assessment process requires that the Scottish Government determine whether in its opinion the policy, strategy or service is likely to have an effect on an island community which is significantly different from its effect on other communities (including other island communities).
Overall, the proposed Phase 2 measures are expected to deliver benefits for Island communities. Of the proposals under consideration, those related to EV charging infrastructure and ports are anticipated to be of particular benefit.
We will use the Phase 2 consultation process to seek views on the draft analysis contained in this consultation stage assessment. Feedback and additional evidence gathered during the consultation period will inform the refinement and implementation of proposed measures. It will also inform the completion of the final ICIA, which will accompany any amendments to the GPDO and/or UCO that flow from the Phase 2 consultation.
There is a problem
Thanks for your feedback