The Planning etc (Scotland) Act 2006 delivers some of the biggest changes to the planning system for over a decade. The detailed implementing regulations are now coming into force.

Development Plans and Examinations

The reforms underscore the primacy of the development plan and the need for development plans to be kept up to date. Local Development Plans will replace local plans. Strategic Development Plans will replace structure plans in the City regions. The new system seeks to make the process of development planning more efficient. But efficiency has come at the expense of transparency. All parties with an interest in development plans will have to participate at an early stage in the process if sites are to be promoted effectively.

  • The period for submission of representations on a draft plan has been reduced to six weeks, with reliance on discussions on the Main Issues Report to narrow the range of issues in dispute. Early participation in the process is required to ensure that information can be collated within the shortened six weeks period.
  • Local plan inquiries will be abolished. There will be an examination in public only if the Reporter thinks it necessary. Your initial representation to the Plan must contain sufficient information to support your case as there is no guarantee that you will be permitted to submit any additional information. Consider a legal audit before submission.
  • Reporters need not report on each representation. They can report on common issues. Ensure that your case is drafted with sufficient precision to ensure that a response is invited to each point. This will safeguard your right to appeal to the courts if required.
  • Supplementary planning guidance can be elevated to development plan status, but will not go through the same development planning process before adoption. Be aware of reforms to SPG in local authority areas in which you have an interest as these may bind future applications.

Development Management

Moves to increase transparency and efficiency in the application process have led to significant reforms to application procedures.

  • Developments will be divided into three categories - National, Major and Local. PD rights will be extended. The category of development will determine the application process and the type of appeal available. It may be possible to inform the category into which a proposed development falls by extending the red line boundary.
  • Outline planning permission and reserved matters approvals will be replaced by Planning Permission in Principle and Approval of Matters. There are transitional procedures in place for applications for reserved matters under existing outline consents at 3 August 2009.
  • The planning authority will assume responsibility for neighbour notification. Applicants may wish to participate in this process to manage the risk of judicial review.
  • Major developments will attract a 12 week pre-application consultation period. The planning authority may decline to determine an application if the Pre-Application Consultation Report is deemed to be inadequate. Proposal of Application Notices will be crucial to ensuring that there is no delay to validation of an application. Keep a careful audit of correspondence which may be relied upon at appeal.
  • The planning authority will have 4 months to determine an application for a Major development.
  • Circular 12/1996 is being revised to encourage better practice in the use of section 75 agreements. Check the draft circular before agreeing heads of terms.


The emphasis is on early preparation to front load the system, together with a more efficient use of DPEA resources. Applications should be accompanied by all information which might be relied upon at appeal.

The period for lodging an appeal for all developments has been halved to 3 months.

  • The planning authority will assume responsibility for notification of appeals. Appellants may wish to participate in this process to manage the risk of judicial review.
  • Local developments under a scheme of delegation will be appealed to a local review body, comprising three or more local members. All other developments requiring planning permission can be appealed to the DPEA.
  • All information and supporting documents must be lodged with the notice of appeal. Only in exceptional circumstances will additional information be considered. Reporters have new power to determine an appeal based on the initial information submitted, without further information or procedure. There is no automatic right to be heard and an appellant's only right is to explain how he thinks the appeal should be considered. Consider a legal audit before submission.
  • Precognitions at appeal inquiries will be restricted to 2000 words. Ensure that your supporting documents contain all the information that you need.