The Scottish Government is seeking views on a number of refinements and amendments to development management procedures that were introduced under the Planning etc. (Scotland) Act 2006.

The main change is designed to overcome the unintended consequences of pre-application consultation requirements for changes to major proposals which already have planning permission.

Applications for planning permission in this circumstance are submitted under section 42 of the Town and Country Planning (Scotland) Act 1997 and essentially seek the removal of conditions that are attached to the existing permission, while keeping the remainder of the planning permission intact. The following is a summary of the key changes that the consultation paper proposes.

Pre – Application Consultation with communities (PAC):

The Government is concerned that the required twelve-week consultation period is excessive in certain circumstances and has therefore proposed four possible amendments to the PAC requirements. These are:

Option 1: Remove the PAC requirement for section 42 applications. This would mean that developers would no longer have to engage with communities in connection with a development that has previously been granted planning permission, on the basis that the new application would only relate to a small aspect of that development. However, such a change in the legislation would mean that there would be no discretion on the part of the planning authority to require PAC in the event that they considered it appropriate.

Option 2(a): Reduce the twelve-week minimum period for PAC. A reduction would almost certainly reduce delay but would also potentially reduce engagement with communities and consultees.

Option 2(b): Reduce the twelve-week minimum period for PAC for section 42 applications only. This approach would mean that all section 42 applications would require some form of PAC, albeit the time-frame for carrying out this PAC would be shorter than the current level.

Option 3: Create a power for the Government to specify certain circumstances where PAC does not apply. This would almost certainly reduce delay for applicants. However, such a power could bring with it a level of ambiguity that may lead to uncertainty for applicants, planning authorities and communities in relation to when, or when not, to insist upon PAC being carried out.

The current system gives rise to significant difficulties in practice, in terms of unnecessary cost and delay in obtaining changes to already consented developments. Any one of the changes proposed by the consultation paper would provide a more streamlined process within which developers, who have already carried out PAC for their existing permission, can obtain amendments to that permission. In our view this is to be welcomed.

Further amendments

The consultation paper proposes additional amendments to the development management process. The two most significant for developers are the proposals to (i) remove the need to advertise an application where there is no neighbouring premises to which notification can be sent, and (ii) the proposal to advertise major applications and other developments only where they would be of significant interest to the community.

The remainder of the consultation includes requirements to consult Network Rail and the Crofters Commission on certain developments, amendments to the types of forms on which the grounds or statement of appeal must be made, changes to the neighbour notification requirements on permitted development right for demolition and minor changes to flood risk and marine management provisions.

Responding to the consultation paper

The consultation paper is open for your response until Friday 28 January 2011. It is an opportunity for developers, planning authorities or any other parties to submit their views and influence the procedures for future development management.

If you wish to respond to any of the proposals, you can do so by clicking here and sending your submission direct to the Government on the email address or by the postal address provided.