Permitted Development Rights review - phase 3: consultation analysis

Analysis of responses to a public consultation on phase 3 of our programme to review and extend permitted development rights (PDR).

6. Other Phase 3 proposals

6.1 Reverse Vending Machines

Under the provisions of the Deposit and Return Scheme (DRS) for Scotland Regulations 2020, certain items of glass, metal and plastic packaging will be subject to a deposit payable at point of sale and refundable when the packaging is returned to any participating return point. RVMs will play an important role in the operation of the deposit return scheme.[6]

The Town and Country planning (General Permitted Development) (Reverse Vending Machine) (Scotland) Amendment Order 2020 (the 2020 Order) introduced PDR for the installation, alteration or replacement of RVMs in the wall of, or within the curtilage of, a shop (class 9H). However, there are a number of restrictions on the location and size of an RVM installed under class 9H including that it would face onto and be within 5m of a road. There is also a requirement that consent under section 59 of the Roads (Scotland) Act 1984 must be obtained to ensure that safety and accessibility issues are considered and addressed in the absence of a planning application. This requirement would be retained if PDR were to be amended.

Although current PDR allow the installation of units on shop frontages and for larger, free-standing units in retail curtilages including carparks, it is acknowledged that these options may not be appropriate for smaller retailers that have limited internal floorspace or lack dedicated off-street parking. For this reason, RVMs on or adjacent to the street may be a more efficient and effective solution.

It is therefore proposed that the PDR should be amended to permit the installation of RVMs located on the road (the definition of which includes the pavement) subject to conditions and limitations specifying that:

(i) Any RVM installed under the PDR must:

  • Be at least 400m from any other on-street RVM.
  • Not exceed 2.5m width or depth, or exceed 2m in height (including any canopy or housing).
  • Not result in a clear pavement width of less than 1.5m.
  • Be oriented to ensure returns can be readily accepted from those using a footpath/pavement.

(ii) The PDR does not apply unless consent under section 59 of the Roads (Scotland) Act 1984 has first been obtained.

(iii) No advertising other than that related to the DRS (or to recycling in general) is permitted.

It is also proposed that the current restriction that a reverse vending machine cannot be installed facing onto and within 5m of a road should be removed as this may restrict the installation of wall mounted RVMs within shop frontages.

Question 29: Do you agree with the proposed amendments to PDR for reverse vending machines?

Responses to Question 29 by respondent type are set out in Table 24 below.

Table 24
Yes No Don't know Total
Planning authority 6 12 18
Public body or corporation
Professional or representative body 5 6 11
Private sector - energy/renewables
Private sector - thermal efficiency/heating
Private sector - other 1 1 2
Third sector - built environment/conservation 2 1 3
Third sector - shooting 1 1 2
Third sector - community councils/representative groups 1 1 2
Third sector - other 2 2
Total organisations 13 24 3 40
% of organisations 33% 60% 8%
Individuals 24 18 32 74
% of individuals 32% 24% 43%
All respondents 37 42 35 114
% of all respondents 32% 37% 31%
% excluding “don’t know” responses 47% 53%

Percentages may not sum to 100% due to rounding

Overall, respondents were relatively evenly divided with 37% of those who answered the question disagreeing with the proposed amendments to PDR for RVMs, while 32% agreed and 31% did not know. Excluding those who answered “don’t know”, 47% agreed and 53% disagreed. However, among organisations 60% disagreed, including a majority of Planning authorities.

Please add any comment in support of your answer

Around 60 respondents provided a comment at Question 29.

Some respondents made points relating to the DRS scheme per se, rather than the details of the proposed PDR. The delay to the scheme was also noted, with one respondent suggesting that this means that there is no need to introduce PDR before potential impacts have been fully assessed.

General points made by respondents who agreed with the proposals included support for a more circular economy and reducing litter. It was noted that the proposals bring potential benefits for small retailers including by providing a collection point for multiple outlets. It was suggested that the absence of RVMs in convenient locations may encourage consumers to visit larger shops and supermarkets, to the detriment of high street businesses. Other benefits identified included reducing the need for car travel in order to return bottles and supporting 20-minute neighbourhoods.

Among respondents who did not support the proposed amendments some argued that, although the PDR would provide a solution for small retailers, the need to balance this with road safety, visual impact and residential amenity requires assessment through the planning process. Others suggested that, like cash machines, RVMs could be incorporated into shop fronts, or that vacant shops could be used. There was support PDR for RVMs in locations such as car parks or retail parks, but not on the public road. The absence of any reference to or mitigation of potential noise impacts was also a matter of concern.

A different perspective was that the proposals do not go far enough. The Professional or representative body respondent expressing this view also suggested that the consultation paper does not make clear that the 2020 Order was only for supermarkets, creating a market advantage over community stores. While welcoming provision for on-street installation of RVMs they argued that the proposed amendments should go further.

Comments on the proposed limitations

The analysis below considers each of the limitations proposed in the consultation paper in turn, followed by various additional conditions or additional permissions that were suggested. Some respondents raised issues relating to other conditions of the existing PDR with which they disagreed.

Any RVM installed under the PDR must:

be at least 400m from any other on-street RVM

Comments included queries with respect to:

  • How the restriction would work in practice - for example whether, if machines were installed by different operators in close succession, the second would be unauthorised?
  • The reasoning behind the 400m limit and whether 100m might be appropriate?

There were also suggestions that the 400m limit may disadvantage traders who are within 400m of an RVM but significantly further from it than other stores, and that 400m is a long distance for those with mobility issues. A reduced distance was seen as a means of fostering a lively high street.

An alternative proposal was that placement of RVMs should be based on community need and capacity for retailers to manage them, rather than imposing an arbitrary separation distance. However, concerns were also raised that, if the RVM industry is deregulated, the amenity of an area could be adversely affected if many providers exploit the PDR.

not exceed 2.5m width or depth, or exceed 2m in height (including any canopy or housing)

With respect to the size of RVMs it was suggested that the scale proposed would not be appropriate in rural locations. It was also noted that the 2m height limit would be greater than that for many on street bins. While it was agreed that proposed restrictions on size can help to mitigate potential impacts on the historic environment there was concern that residual negative effects could be significant.

not result in a clear pavement width of less than 1.5m

Planning authority respondents in particular argued that a clear 1.5m pavement width is not acceptable for safe passage. Specific concerns were raised with respect to:

  • Contribution to street clutter.
  • Safety for pedestrians, if people using the RVM obstruct the route leading to pedestrians having to step out onto the public road.
  • Additional hazards for people with impaired mobility or vision.

There were queries with respect to how ‘clear pavement’ would be measured and what the implications would be if, for example, adjacent pavement was periodically occupied for outside food service, had markings for periodic occupation such as bin collection, or included busy areas such as bus stops.

Issues were also raised with respect to underground infrastructure access points such as fire hydrants or manhole covers and whether the bodies responsible for these have been consulted.

Rather than the 1.5m proposed, some respondents argued that a clear width of at least 2m is required. It was noted that this width allows two wheelchair users to pass, and is in line with recommendations in Roads for All: Good Practice Guide for Roads[7].

the PDR does not apply unless consent under section 59 of the Roads (Scotland) Act 1984 has first been obtained

Points raised included that the existing 5m rule should be retained and that the risk of broken glass means RVMs should not be installed on roads.

It was also suggested that:

  • A continued requirement to obtain approval under a separate legislative regime may be confusing for applicants and put an additional burden on the planning authority to cross check whether a section 59 consent is in place.
  • The Roads Authority should be consulted on any proposal within 5m of the public road to ensure that the needs of road users and the ability to empty/service the machine are taken into account.

no advertising other than that related to the DRS (or to recycling in general) is permitted

As with respect to size, there was agreement that restrictions on advertising on RVMs can mitigate concerns for the historic environment to some extent, but it was argued that residual negative effects could be significant.

Suggestions for clarification, additional restrictions or wider PDR

A number of respondents commented on restrictions under the 2020 Order or sought clarification as to whether, unless otherwise specified, the existing provisions would still apply.

Some respondents saw the absence of any specific mitigation of potential noise impacts as a matter of significant concern. The 2020 Order states that class 6H PDR would not apply if an RVM were to be situated within 15m of the curtilage of a building used for residential purposes, and maintaining this distance was seen as important to reduce the potential for nuisance from noise, odour or insect issues. However, there were still concerns that, depending on factors such as the sound power of the machine and whether there was a direct line of sight to the receiver location, adverse noise impacts would still be possible at 15m. It was suggested that noise disturbance would be of particular concern if RVMs incorporate crushing/compacting mechanisms or if they accept glass, with a suggestion that noise impacts could be reduced by a condition controlling operating hours. It was noted that there is presently no clear guidance with respect to permitted hours of operations.

While most of those who referenced the required 15m distance to of the curtilage of a building used for residential purposes expected it to be retained, one argued that it could automatically rule out RVMs at over 50% of convenience stores, particularly those with flats above.

With respect to designated areas where class 9H PDR do not apply (namely sites of archaeological interest, National Scenic Areas, historic gardens or designed landscapes, historic battlefields, conservation areas, National Parks, or World Heritage Sites) comments included both that the list is correct and that the respondent’s approval of the proposed amendments is subject to these areas continuing to be excluded. It was also suggested:

  • Both that National Parks and National Scenic Areas should be excluded, but also that there do not need to be blanket exemptions for National Parks and National Scenic Areas.
  • That conservation areas must be restricted.
  • That the curtilage of a listed building should be added, as a free-standing structure would not be covered by a Listed Building Consent.
  • That the setting of listed buildings, scheduled monuments, conservation areas and World Heritage Sites should also be excluded from PDR.

Other comments on the content of the 2020 Order related to the 80m2 footprint and the provision for part of the machine to protrude up to 2m beyond the outer surface of a wall in which the RVM is installed. There was a concern that this could severely impact pavement areas adjacent to the machines for disabled people who may not easily detect them.

With respect to points specifically in relation to the proposed amendments, comments included that rather than using PDR, it might be better to retain a requirement for planning permission, with a strong presumption in favour of approval if certain requirements are met. There was also a suggestion that the planning process needs to be simplified, and fees reduced. Time and expense in relation to the additional road adoption process were also highlighted.

Other issues raised included that:

  • There should be a stipulation that machines are used only for recycling.
  • Stored plastics may represent a fire risk which should be considered.
  • Conditions around parking for collections from RVMs also need to be considered and pavement parking avoided.
  • Location of RVMs in car parks should be encouraged as a place where they would have less impact than on pavements.
  • Correct working and regular emptying or machines must be ensured and there should be scope to remove RVMs if local people report problems with machines causing obstruction or not being emptied.

Finally, it was noted that the 2019 Sustainability Appraisal did not consider RVMs, and it was argued that research based on existing waste collection facilities should be used to inform the design and location of these facilities.

6.2 Temporary Use of Land: Shooting Ranges

Class 15 of the GPDO allows temporary changes of use – including temporary structures associated with that use – to take place on land for up to 28 days without needing to apply for planning permission. The terms of class 15 are flexible: they apply to any activity, except use of land for a caravan site, and they do not apply to land within the curtilage of a building. The 28 days is a cumulative total in any calendar year.

Concerns have been raised that these provisions might be used to establish temporary firing ranges comprising the provision of fixed targets associated with the use of firearms, causing potential disruption and amenity impacts that such uses can have, particularly in respect of noise. The consultation notes, however, that the use of firearms is subject to separate licensing and checks by Police Scotland to ensure public safety.

Views are sought on whether class 15 should be amended to exclude the use of land as a temporary shooting range comprising fixed targets associated with firearms. The consultation paper makes clear that some temporary shooting activities do not constitute ‘development’ under the Town and Country Planning (Scotland) Act 1997 and so do not require planning permission – whether they are granted through PDR or following a planning application. Any amendment to class 15 would therefore have no effect on such activities. Nor would an amendment to class 15 have any effect on shooting activities or established clubs that seek to operate for more than 28 days a year – since any such development would be beyond the scope of class 15 PDR already.

The consultation also highlights that certain shooting activities are already exempt from authorisation under the Firearms Act 1968 and the Air Weapons and Licensing (Scotland) Act 2015. It points out that if class 15 were amended to exclude shooting ranges, those activities would (where they involve development) require a planning application but would be exempt from firearms authorisation. The consultation queried whether such a situation would be proportionate and whether there would be any land use planning justification for doing so.

In light of these nuances, the consultation seeks respondents' views in general terms rather than setting out a specific proposal, in order to gather evidence about the extent to which this is a significant issue, the potential impacts of excluding target shooting from class 15 and whether doing so would be appropriate and/or give rise to unintended consequences.

Question 30: Do you have any comments on the potential exclusion of the use of land as a target shooting range from class 15 PDR? If such a change were taken forward, do you have views on the potential justification for exempting the activities discussed above?

Around 355 respondents provided a comment at Question 30.

Most of these respondents (around three quarters) did not respond to any other consultation questions. These were primarily individuals, whose sole focus was on PDR in relation to use of land for target shooting, and some of whom indicated that they were responding as a member of a shooting club. However, a number of third sector shooting and other organisation respondents also focused exclusively on this question.

A number of those commenting at Question 30 (around 1 in 7) drew on standard text provided by another organisation or individual (campaign-plus responses).[8] These respondents were all opposed to the exclusion of use of land as a temporary shooting range from class 15 PDR.

Reasons for opposing the proposed change

Most of those commenting at Question 30 expressed their opposition to the exclusion of temporary target shooting ranges from PDR and highlighted a range of issues and concerns in relation to the proposal.

Opposition to the exclusion of target shooting from PDR was most commonly linked to a view that the proposal is disproportionate to the impact of this land use. Respondents suggested that target shooting does not cause the level of disruption suggested by the consultation paper, and referenced aspects of current licensing and restrictions such as firearms licensing and the 28-day limit on temporary land use as minimising impact. There was also reference to other recent legislation and regulation that was seen as unfairly focused on shooting.

More than half of those who answered Question 30 were of the view that excluding temporary target shooting ranges from PDR would unfairly single out recreational shooting. The proposed change was described as discriminatory and biased against shooting sports, and campaign-plus respondents referenced the potential for the proposed exclusion to have a ‘catastrophic’ adverse impact on target shooting events and shooting clubs across Scotland.

Linked to concerns that removal of PDR is disproportionate to the impact of temporary shooting ranges, a substantial number of respondents suggested that proposals are not evidence-based, and that the consultation document does not provide sufficient justification for the change. This included a view that proposals have been prompted by issues around a specific shooting range and, as such, are not evidence-based or proportionate to the wider impact of temporary shooting ranges.

Other reasons for objecting to the proposals included a view that the noise justification for proposals is flawed. For example, it was suggested that clay pigeon shooting is noisier than smallbore or air rifles, but would still be permitted under proposed changes to PDR. There was also concern that the consultation paper does not recognise that most target rifle shooting uses sound-moderators, and is typically in relatively remote locations with little noise impact on neighbouring properties.

Respondents also suggested that other land uses permitted under class 15 PDR have a similar or greater impact than target shooting. This included reference to a range of other leisure and sports activities permitted under PDR that were seen as having a significant impact on their local area in terms of noise and wider disruption. These respondents suggested that PDR for target shooting should not be considered in isolation from other permitted activities.

Potential impacts of the proposed change

As noted above, respondents who were opposed to the exclusion of temporary target shooting ranges from PDR also referred to the potential adverse impact on target shooting events (both informal and competitive) and clubs. Respondents noted that clubs rely on the income and additional memberships that shooting events generate, and suggested that clubs would be unable to afford to make planning applications without this income. In this context, there was reference to the range of benefits generated by shooting and shooting clubs across Scotland including support for local economies, providing employment opportunities, development of shooting athletes, and supporting the wider shooting community. It was suggested that target shooting is the only affordable way for some people to take part in their hobby, such that proposed changes could have a significant mental health impact.

There was also concern about the potential impact of changes on stalkers, hunters and pest controllers who use fixed targets for practice. It was noted that any rifle shooter with an open licence to shoot live quarry can set up a fixed targets for practice/zeroing without safety checks or planning permission; it was suggested that this has been the case for many years without issue. There was also concern that the proposed change would mean that planning permission would be required just to enable shooters to check the safety of their rifles, and that this could ultimately have an impact on the humane control of animals.

Other concerns and issues

Opposition to the exclusion of temporary target shooting ranges from PDR was also linked to a number of other concerns and issues highlighted by respondents. These included that:

  • Any issues around target shooting should be dealt with through firearms licensing rather than through planning legislation. In this context, there was a view that current firearms regulations are sufficient to manage the impact of target shooting, and that additional legislation is not required.
  • Firearms licensing is already under review by the UK Government, for example in relation to miniature rifles, and suggested that some of the issues raised by the consultation paper may not be relevant following completion of the review.
  • The proposed change would place an additional administrative burden on planning authorities, and add to delays in the planning system.

In relation to the consultation itself, some felt that the phrasing of Question 30 was confusing. There was also concern that target shooting has been included at the end of a consultation that otherwise has no relation to shooting.

Reasons for supporting the proposed changes

A minority of those commenting at Question 30 expressed support for the exclusion of temporary target shooting ranges from PDR. Reasons cited in support of this view were primarily related to the potential impact of target shooting on the local area and other land users. This included specific concerns around noise disruption in the local area with respondents citing examples of temporary target ranges in relatively close proximity to residential properties and other land users.

There were also concerns around safety risks to other land users, including examples of temporary shooting ranges in close proximity to footpaths and cycle ways. In this context, it was suggested that the consultation document is not accurate in relation to safety checks by Police, and that long-range target shooting can take place without statutory safety inspections and without prior public notice. The lack of prior public notice was seen as a particular issue where ranges are in close proximity to access routes.

Respondents also highlighted concerns that permanent ranges have been permitted under class 15 PDR, and there was reference to examples of permanent development associated with shooting such as game farms and habitat preparation.



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