Scottish Planning Policy - finalised amendments: December 2020

The Scottish Government’s response to our recent consultation on changes to the Scottish Planning Policy.

5. Impacts On Development Other Than Housing

  • Question 4 in the consultation paper focused on this.
  • The consultation paper aimed to address issues arising from planning for housing. However we invited views and evidence to establish whether it would affect other types of development.


Some agreed that the proposals would impact on housing, rather than other types of development, recognising that the key changes focused on procedures relating to the housing land supply and associated development management decisions.

Others considered it would have wider impacts:

  • It was noted that many housing developments may be part of a mixed-use proposal or include infrastructure improvements.
  • Responses pointed out that development plans cannot include policies to cover every potential type of development.
  • Several respondents felt the presumption has an important role to play in supporting proposals for renewable energy development as well as grid infrastructure. The renewable energy sector called for the presumption to be retained, or if removed to be replaced by an alternative that carries the same level of weight supporting sustainable development. It was also noted that electricity consents have a different relationship with the development plan and so changes that aim to rebalance this have no relevance to the sector.
  • Other types of development raised in responses included mixed use sites, essential infrastructure, waste infrastructure, tourism development, business expansion or restructuring.


The following evidence has been taken into account in reaching our final policy position.

Application of the presumption to non-housing applications

Examples were given of wind farm cases where the presumption has been viewed as a relevant consideration.

To inform our consideration of this matter, we have reviewed a sample of renewable energy appeal cases, including those considered under planning as well as projects considered under section 36 of the Electricity Act 1989. Nearly all of the cases we reviewed referred to the presumption, but it was only a significant material consideration in 3 of 15 cases on the basis of the plan being viewed as 'out-of-date'. However, in all cases, a balanced judgement was made taking into account the principles set out under paragraph 29.

The wider policies (e.g. paragraph 33) that we proposed changing, would not change that assessment.

Taking into account these cases, we recognise that the balance in decision-making for other types of development could be altered, and that there is potential for changes to the policy to affect the outcomes of decisions. As with housing, however, given the role of planning judgement in each case and taking into account the application of wider policies within the SPP, it is not possible to determine with any degree of confidence the extent of impacts from either the initial proposals or our final policy position.

Key points

  • The presumption is not usually a determining factor in non-housing applications. However, we accept there is potential for the Gladman decision to change the outcome in some instances for non-housing developments.
  • We recognise that there could be benefit in retaining an overarching presumption and that decisions can continue to be made in a way that supports sustainable development where there are no relevant plan policies in place.
  • The effect of our revised amendments on non-housing types of development is expected to be limited.
  • In response to these issues, section 7 sets out our final policy amendments.



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