1.1.1 The Scottish Government is carrying out a review of permitted development rights ("PDR") as part of our wider planning reform programme. As outlined in more detail at section 1.3, PDR provide flexibility to carry out certain types of development without a planning application having to be submitted to – and approved by – the relevant planning authority.
1.1.2 The PDR review is being taken forward on a phased basis. Through each phase, consideration is being given to the potential introduction of new or extended PDR for specific types of development. This consultation paper relates to Phase 3 of the review: it sets out, and seeks views on, a range of proposals for change (see Chapters 2 to 6). Views are also sought (Chapter 7) on the draft assessments that accompany the consultation proposals.
1.1.3 This consultation runs until Wednesday 23 August 2023, which is the closing date for responses. Chapter 8 of this document explains how to respond to the consultation. Feedback from respondents will inform the further consideration and refinement of proposals. Because PDR are set out in legislation, introducing new or extended PDR involves the preparation of a statutory instrument, which must be laid in the Scottish Parliament before it can come into force. We anticipate that a statutory instrument containing changes stemming from this consultation would be laid in the Scottish Parliament later in 2023 - 2024. If you have any questions about this consultation you can get in touch at Planning.PDR3@gov.scot.
1.2 The Context for Phase 3
1.2.1 The phasing of the PDR review programme is kept under review to ensure that it reflects – and helps to promote – wider Scottish Government objectives and priorities. In view of the cost and climate crises, Phase 3 of the review is primarily focussed on PDR for domestic and non-domestic renewables equipment. This focus reflects the important role that such equipment can play in helping to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and energy costs for households and businesses. Linked to this, Phase 3 also considers PDR associated with the rollout of transmission and distribution infrastructure needed to support the expansion of renewables and to meet increasing demands for electricity.
1.2.2 The proposals in this consultation are informed by a number of important Scottish Government plans and strategies, including:
- National Planning Framework 4 (February 2023): a long-term spatial strategy for Scotland containing national planning policies that will guide development to 2045.
- Draft Energy Strategy and Just Transition Plan (January 2023): sets out a route map and actions we will take to deliver a net zero energy system that supplies affordable, resilient and clean energy.
- Heat in Buildings Strategy (October 2021): outlines steps we will take to decarbonise Scotland's buildings and sets out a pathway to zero emissions heating and cooling systems by 2045. A consultation on a Heat in Buildings Bill will be published later in 2023.
- Cleaner Air for Scotland 2 (July 2021): Scotland's air quality strategy setting out a five-year policy framework and a series of actions to deliver improvements in air quality.
1.3 What are permitted development rights?
1.3.1 PDR refer to those forms of development which are granted planning permission by legislation, meaning they can be carried out without a planning application. Specifically, PDR are contained within the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (Scotland) Order 1992 ("the GPDO").
1.3.2 By allowing development to be carried out without an application for planning permission, PDR can provide certainty and save the time and expense associated with applying for planning permission. They can also reduce burdens on planning authorities, allowing them to focus resources on more complex and/or strategic cases.
1.3.3 PDR are organised into a series of "classes" set out in Schedule 1 to the GPDO. Each class specifies the type (or types) of development for which planning permission is granted. Throughout this consultation document, references to a "class" or "classes" should be read as referring to classes of PDR in Schedule 1 to the GPDO unless otherwise specified.
1.3.4 Most classes of PDR are subject to conditions and limitations. These may, for example: specify the maximum size or scale of what is permitted, restrict or dis-apply the rights in certain locations (e.g., conservation areas, National Scenic Areas etc.), or provide that the PDR only apply to certain developers (e.g., local authorities, electronic communications operators or statutory undertakers).
1.3.5 The GPDO already provides fairly extensive PDR for domestic and non-domestic renewables technologies, such as solar panels, wind turbines and heat pumps – as well as a wide range of development carried out by electricity undertakers. These existing PDR help to contextualise the proposed changes we are seeking views on. As such, the current provisions for each development type are explained in the relevant section of this consultation document.
1.3.6 When reading this consultation document, it is important to bear in mind that proposed developments which do not fall within the scope of PDR, including any conditions or limitations, are not inherently unacceptable in planning terms. It is simply that planning permission for such development needs to be sought through a planning application before it can be carried out.
1.3.7 It is also important to note that the requirements of other legislation are not disapplied by the existence of PDR: separate consent(s) may need to be secured even if an application for planning permission is not required. For example, listed building consent is required for any works to a listed building – including works that have planning permission by virtue of the GPDO. Additionally, the GPDO provides that:
- PDR would not apply where an environmental impact assessment ("EIA") would be required under The Town and Country Planning (Environmental Impact Assessment) (Scotland) Regulations 2017.
- An additional approval (from the planning authority) and appropriate assessment would be required for works likely to have significant effects on a European Site – under The Conservation (Natural Habitats &c.) Regulations 1994.
1.3.8 Article 4 of the GPDO contains provisions which allow planning authorities or the Scottish Ministers to make directions (commonly known as "article 4 directions") restricting PDR for particular types of development or classes of development in specified locations. For example, article 4 directions are sometimes used to restrict PDR in conservation areas or other sensitive locations. Article 4 directions prepared by planning authorities are subject to approval by the Scottish Ministers.
1.4 Previous consultations
1.4.1 This Phase 3 consultation follows previous public consultations on:
- The overall PDR review work programme and associated Sustainability Appraisal (November 2019), the responses to which informed the development of the detailed proposals for change we are consulting on now. An independent analysis of the responses to that consultation was published in September 2020.
- Phase 1 proposals (October 2020) relating to relating to digital telecommunications infrastructure, agricultural development, peatland restoration and active travel. An independent analysis of the responses to that consultation was published in December 2020. The Phase 1 measures came into force on 1 April 2021.
- Phase 2 proposals (May 2022) relating to electric vehicle charging equipment, operational port development and changes of use in city, town and local centres. An independent analysis of the responses to that consultation was published in February 2023. The Phase 2 measures came into force on 31 March 2023.
1.4.2 The Phase 3 consultation is itself accompanied by an update to the 2019 Sustainability Appraisal (see Annex A). An update to the Draft Strategic Environmental Assessment ("SEA") Post Adoption Statement will follow.
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