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).

7. Assessment of Impacts

7.1 Sustainability Appraisal Update

The Sustainability Appraisal (SA) Update provided in Annex A builds on the findings of the 2019 SA, setting out the findings of further iterative appraisal of the proposals for domestic and non-domestic micro-renewables, as well as updated proposals for thermal efficiency measures (window replacements) and solar canopies. It also assesses proposals related to PDR for development types not considered in the 2019 SA, namely: electricity undertakings (including substations), shooting ranges and RVMs.

Question 31: What are your views on the findings of the Update to the 2019 Sustainability Appraisal Report at Annex A?

Around 30 respondents answered Question 31 although some of the points raised related to issues considered by other impact assessments and are considered at Question 32.

General points on the SA Update included a call for assessment of how a principle of biodiversity enhancement could be applied as a condition for benefiting from a PDR. It was suggested that the SA does not make clear how the proposed changes to PDR have taken into account both the climate and nature crises as required by NPF4 Policy 1 (which requires all development proposals to give significant weight to the global climate and nature crises) or if permitted development will be required to contribute to the enhancement of biodiversity as required by NPF4 Policy 3 (Biodiversity).

Other general points included views that:

  • Terms such as ‘negligible’ or ‘minor positive’ require definition.
  • In many instances where significant adverse effects on cultural heritage are acknowledged the response is limited to noting that these would be reversible.
  • Where environmental effects are predicted to be significantly negative or cannot be predicted, the suitability of the development type for a PDR should be reconsidered.
  • It is not helpful for material to relating environmental impacts, gathered as part of the Strategic Environmental Assessment process, to be diluted among wider social and economic impacts.

It was also suggested that, that while increasing PDR is flagged as potentially reducing the number of applications handled by planning authorities, the continued need for Listed Building Consent means that permission may be refused on heritage grounds, making the planning system appear somewhat contradictory.

Comments on specific elements of the SA Update were relatively limited, although two Public body respondents observed that their views on the detail of the SA had informed their answers to earlier questions, with one noting that they had also provided a separate response to the SA Update.

With respect to thermal efficiency of domestic buildings there were questions regarding:

  • The breadth of the assessment in terms of the sustainability of proposed changes to replacement windows and increased use of non-timber and potentially less sustainable materials.
  • Removal of the planning application as a test of the need to remove repairable windows or sustainable options before agreeing to remove and replace the existing window.

There was also a call for the Scottish Government to produce information in respect of how to undertake alterations to improve poor building energy efficiency following a fabric first approach.

Some respondents commented on the assessment of temporary shooting ranges including a suggestion that the assessment is flawed because it:

  • Assumes noise disruption and/or loss of amenity without providing any supporting evidence.
  • Does not explain how a specific impact related to land-based targets does not apply to other forms of shooting.
  • Fails to consider the benefits of shooting ranges/activities for nature and the environment or the benefits of engaging in sporting activities for individuals and communities.

7.2 Other Assessments

The consultation paper notes that a number of other assessments have also been undertaken, with initial and draft assessments set out in Annexes B-F. Draft assessments and screening assessments undertaken include:

(i) A Business and Regulatory Impact Assessment (BRIA) that considers the costs and benefits, particularly with regard to business, of the proposed changes.

(ii) An Equality Impact Assessment (EqIA) that considers the impact of the draft proposals on various equalities groups defined by protected characteristics such as age, sex, religious or other belief, race or sexual orientation.

(iii) A Children’s Rights and Wellbeing Impact Assessment (CRWIA) that considers the impact of the proposed changes on children: the initial conclusion following a screening of proposals is that a full assessment is not required.

(iv) An Island Communities Impact Assessment (ICIA) that considers the impact of proposed changes on Scotland’s islands: the initial conclusion following a screening of proposals is that a full assessment is not required.

(v) A Fairer Scotland Duty Assessment that considers how inequalities of outcome caused by socio-economic disadvantage can be reduced when making strategic decisions: the initial conclusion following a screening of proposals is that a full assessment is not required.

Question 32: Do you have any comments on the partial and draft impact assessments undertaken for Phase 3?

Around 25 respondents provided a comment at Question 32.

General comments included agreement with assessment process but also a view that these assessments are too complex and inaccessible to allow the layman to respond.

It was also suggested that, as a general principle, it is important for proposals to be equitable and nuanced, avoiding a blanket approach with unintended consequences. The importance of protecting the collective rights of communities to influence delivery of net zero targets was highlighted, with a concern that extending PDR may risk a community backlash against the infrastructure needed to deliver net zero because people have no means of influencing the decision-making process.


Several respondents argued that the BRIA fails to address the impact of amending the PDR for temporary shooting ranges. Points raised included that business impacts could include:

  • Economic impacts for shooting ranges and associated businesses, including firearms and ammunition dealers.
  • Wider loss of income in rural communities if deprived of income from visiting shooters.

Points with respect to regulatory impacts included that:

  • Wider PDR and a resulting reduction in applications would lead to a reduction in planning fee income for planning authorities, and the resulting impacts on planning services should be assessed.
  • The impact on planning authorities of requiring use of Article 4 Directions to counteract negative impacts on the character of conservation areas is underestimated.


It was argued that not extending proposals for PDR for replacement windows to improve energy efficiency to World Heritage Sites could exacerbate existing inequalities, as World Heritage Sites can include areas of significant economic deprivation and home owners on low incomes, as well as affordable housing providers supplying homes for low-income households. It was argued that keeping the requirement to apply for planning permission for replacement windows in these areas and to use traditional materials, puts property owners at a financial disadvantage and, since women, children, people with disabilities and minority ethnic people are disproportionately represented within the affordable housing sector, barriers to improving their housing standards will exacerbate inequalities. It was also suggested that the same argument should apply with respect to the CRWIA and the Fairer Scotland Duty.

Other points made with respect to people with protected characteristics included:

  • The assessment in relation to RVMs does not mention mothers with buggies.
  • Loss of local shooting ranges could prevent those on lower incomes or without private transport, including younger, older or disabled people, from participating in shooting activities.

Fairer Scotland Duty Assessment: the initial conclusion following a screening of proposals is that a full assessment is not required

Reflecting the point made above with respect to proposals being equitable, some respondents argued that a Fairer Scotland Duty Assessment should consider potential injustices felt within communities if PDR are seen as damaging their local environment and quality of life without the opportunity to comment on or object to a planning application. A related point was that there should be a mechanism to allow people other than the applicant to appeal against development which is deemed to be permitted development.

Question 33: Do you have any suggestions for additional sources of information on the potential impacts of the proposals that could help inform our final assessments?

Around 30 respondents provided a comment at Question 33, including a view that proposals to streamline the planning system have had obvious input from industry but have received little publicity inviting public comment. With reference to specific proposals in the present consultation, the most frequent suggestion was that the Scottish Government should consult shooting associations or their membership to inform assessments relating to Temporary Shooting Ranges.

Respondents also suggested a number of sources of information on individual topics, all of which are available to the policy team at the Scottish Government. Briefly, these included:

  • A guide to sustainable development methodology.
  • Consumer research regarding barriers to heat pump installation.
  • Guides relating to energy efficiency, including for traditional buildings.

It was also suggested that residents of conservation areas could provide information on the barriers to going green and reducing their energy costs.

Finally, it was proposed that the effects of the current proposals should be assessed in the context of rural fuel poverty to provide a better understanding of their potential impact on rural populations.



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