New permitted development rights will facilitate town centre regeneration, says Colliers

New permitted development rights will facilitate town centre regeneration, says Colliers

Holly Gillingham

Changes to permitted development rights (PDRs) in Scotland coming into effect today could revitalise Scottish town centres, says commercial real estate firm Colliers.

The changes which will allow shops (subject to restrictions) to be converted to office accommodation, restaurants or cafes without the requirement for planning permission are a major breakthrough for town centres that have been struggling to regenerate due to planning constraints.

The amends to the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development and Use Classes) Scotland Order also updates polices around outdoor furniture for cafes and restaurants, the installation of electric vehicle charging points and allows for further development at Scottish Ports.

Holly Gillingham from Colliers’ planning team said: “In this post-pandemic world, these changes to legislation are an excellent step towards relaxing planning policy in Scotland and help revitalise town centres which need to change and modernise as the way that we all live and work has changed.

“These new PDRs will mean that some units that have previously been occupied as shops could change to professional services, office accommodation, new restaurants or cafes. While there are still some restrictions, this frees up local authorities to focus on larger scale planning applications and provides businesses and landlords with greater flexibility.”

It is important to note some restrictions regarding the new permitted development rights. For example, shops, buildings offering financial services and food and drink uses can now also be used for up to 300 sq m of office space without planning permission going forward.

However, the reverse is not true and office premises cannot be converted to retail/food and drink uses without seeking approval from the local planning authority. Food and drink uses will not be permitted in existing shop units if they are within 1 meter of an existing dwelling (this also includes flats located above existing shops/banks).

The changes also allow for greater flexibility regarding electric car charging infrastructure across Scotland. It also enables further development in Scottish ports without planning permission, when this is connected to the provision of services and facilities at the port.

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