Overview of government’s permitted development rights consultation published

The Scottish Government has published an overview of its permitted development rights consultation to help explain the changes it is now proposing to make.

The consultation on its Phase 1 proposals for reviewing and extending permitted development rights relate to priority development types: digital telecommunications infrastructure; agricultural development; peatland restoration; and development related to active travel is currently live.

Explaining what it means by permitted development rights, the overview reads: “Development and changes in use of buildings or land in Scotland need planning permission, which means you have to apply to your local council for permission before you can carry out the work.

“Some development has planning permission ‘pre-granted’ by a piece of legislation called the General Permitted Development Order. This legislation sets out the relatively minor developments which, because of their minimal impact on neighbours or the environment, ministers have decided can be carried out without having to apply for planning permission.

“Sometimes permission is granted only if it complies with certain conditions (e.g. size limits, location) and sometimes you must seek the approval of the local council for some aspects of the development (e.g. its design or external appearance) before you can proceed. In this way any negative impacts of the developments are minimised.

“We are proposing to add to the kind and scale of developments which you will be able to carry out without having to apply for planning permission.”

The proposed changes include:

Digital telecommunications

  • increase existing size limits for new masts, extensions to existing masts, antennae and other equipment
  • extend permitted development rights for digital infrastructure into sensitive areas, subject to size/height limits

Agricultural developments

  • increase the scale of agricultural buildings that can be erected or extended under permitted development rights
  • allow the conversion of agricultural and forestry buildings to residential and other uses
  • clarify the planning status of polytunnels

Peatland restoration

  • new PDR for almost all peatland restoration works, to provide clarity on the planning position with regard to peatland restoration projects

Active Travel

  • allow cycle storage sheds in the front gardens of houses
  • allow cycle storage sheds in private garden areas of flats
  • extend the size of storage sheds allowed in conservation areas
  • allow communal cycle stores to the rear of blocks of flats, in the grounds of commercial, business and industrial buildings and on the street.

On why the changes are being proposed, the overview adds: “High quality digital communications are becoming increasingly important, particularly with more people working from home. The Scottish Government sees the digital communications industry as central to Scotland’s economic recovery from the impact of the pandemic, and to the attainment of our climate change goals. The changes proposed are aimed at encouraging and supporting the development and improvement of the infrastructure that we all rely on in our daily lives.

“Our proposals are also intended to help support agricultural development and diversification, as well as the delivery of new homes (including affordable housing) in rural areas. Coupled with the development of digital connectivity, the proposed changes would complement wider Scottish Government measures to support and protect the rural economy.

“One of the few positive things to emerge from the recent national lockdown was a significant increase in walking and cycling. The government is keen to build on this to help achieve the country’s carbon reduction targets and to encourage healthy lifestyles. Active travel is about walking, cycling –including adaptive bikes and e-bikes –and other wheeled mobility aids, such as mobility scooters. The proposals are aimed at making ownership and access to all such means of transport easier by providing PDR for places to store them securely.”

The consultation runs until November 12. There will also be an opportunity to submit and have questions answered online.

Once all responses have been analysed, the government will finalise the proposals, taking into account the views received, and prepare legislation that will be laid in Parliament in December for scrutiny by MSPs. The politicians will be able to see all responses to the consultation, which will help inform their consideration of the final proposals. If approved by the Parliament the new rules could be in place early next year.