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Planning Procedure In Scotland

A Guide to the Planning Procedure In Scotland

For further information or advice on planning and building control within Scotland visit:

Why have a Planning System?

From new buildings, extensions to external appearance of buildings, residential or commercial, or the way land is used, it is important to help the economy and all aspects of the local superstructure including homes, leisure facilities and shops.

The location of new build sites is very important because it has an effect on existing estates. Poorly designed developments, in poorly chosen positions can damage the quality of life for communities and it is not easy to rectify mistakes.

The Planning Procedure is designed to control positive change within our towns and cities but also to protect our local historic buildings and areas of natural beauty making sure that the land is developed to everyone's long term interest.

Sustainable Development

Sustainable Development is an environmentally responsible development which avoids harming the long term needs of the community and environment.

The Planning Procedure helps to encourage sustainable development by controlling and influencing changes in land use and influencing designs of new buildings. The Planning Procedure supports:

(1) The use of old development sites and empty or derelict land.
(2) The use and re-use of buildings to make local areas more attractive.
(3) The conservation of wildlife and recreation area.
(4) The protection of historic buildings and areas of natural beauty.

The Planning Procedure - How Does the System Work?

Planning deals with land use and land development. Planning decisions are usually decided at local/council level. The Councils main planning duties are:

(1) Deciding on planning permission applications
(2) Organising and preparing development plans
(3) Dealing with building and developments that haven't been approved

Development Plans consist of two separate parts. Firstly, the Structure Plan, and secondly, the Local Plan. Within these two parts it is decided how much development will take place, where the development will be positioned and where development will not be allowed.

The development plans contain policies and use of land in an area. Development plans cover a whole range of issues such as transport, shopping, recreation, employment and also conservation issues.

Structure Plan - The Structure Plan for an area is to take a long term view over the development of the council area. Each council will prepare a structure plan either working alone or working with other neighbouring councils. When there has been a very wide consultation with the general population and other interested parties, the Council submits a Structure Plan for us to approve.

Local Plans - Local Plans usually cover smaller areas. Councils will consult widely in the content of the local plan. After considering all views and objections, suitable changes may be made and the Council will adopt the Local Plan, using it as a basis for decision making for the area. The Local Plan must run in line with the approved Structure Plan.

Decisions on Planning Applications

There are over 40,000 applications submitted to the Scottish Council every year and on average they grant over 90% planning permission. You need planning permission for development. This term is defined in law and covers a wide range of building work as well as the way land and buildings are used. Listed Buildings are also controlled over planning.

The rules for planning are very complicated. The small proposals are classes as permitted developments and don't need planning permission. The Councils planning development has the final say as to whether or not you will need planning permission. It makes sense to speak to planning before you make an application as this may save you time.

You will be required to contact your neighbours about what work you propose to do, because they have the right to comment on the application within 14 days of the Council receiving it. Certain types of applications will be advertised in the local newspaper.

The Council will make it's decision on planning applications subject to the development plan, unless "material considerations" suggest otherwise. A "material consideration" is usually relevant to national policy. The Council will decide how important these material considerations are. However, the Councils will approve planning applications for development in line with the development plan.

The Councils will try to make decisions on applications within 8 weeks. Large schemes will however take longer. The Councils strive to make a decision about at least 80% of applications within a 2 month period.

The Council can:

(a) give planning permission without conditions
(b) give planning permission with conditions
(c) refuse planning permission


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