Planning in a pandemic

As the pandemic continues to affect our everyday lives, planning legislation has had to adapt quickly to ensure the built environment is fit for purpose. Corinne MacDougall from our Scotland planning team outlines the latest updates north of the Border.

Use of outdoor spaces and the 28-day rule
Effective from 2 July 2020
The use of part of a public footpath for outdoor seating by a café for up to 28 days in a calendar year already has the benefit of planning permission. While physical distancing requirements remain, it is likely that many temporary uses will be needed for longer periods. Scottish Government do not expect the limits of ‘the 28 day rule’ to be enforced against reasonable temporary outdoor uses, which may include temporary structures, should a longer period be appropriate and helpful to businesses.

To be reviewed in September 2020, and the intention is to withdraw it once physical distancing is no longer required.

Construction sites: hours of operation
Effective from 29 May 2020
Planning authorities should be supportive of reasonable changes and requests to extend working hours.

Registration of Section 75 agreements
Effective from 29 May 2020
Registers of Scotland (RoS) has a digital submissions portal and is accepting applications to register deeds in the Land Register, including Section 75 agreements. If a Section 75 agreement is to be recorded in the Sasine Register, contact RoS to arrange for your application to be escalated to a Senior Advisor. For more information please click here.

The Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (Coronavirus) (Scotland) Amendment Order 2020
Effective from 24 April 2020
Addresses development by local authorities and health service bodies.

Coronavirus (Scotland) (No.2) Act 2020
Received Royal Assent on 26 May 2020
Extends the duration of listed building and conservation area consents about to expire.

The Town and Country Planning (Miscellaneous Temporary Modifications) (Coronavirus) (Scotland) Regulations 2020
Came into force 24 April 2020.
Suspended the need for (i) public events in pre-application consultation, (ii) local review bodies meeting in public and (iii) hard copies of EIA reports in physical places. Guidance has been provided on public events on online alternatives.

Coronavirus (Scotland) Act 2020
Received Royal Assent on 6th April 2020
Timescales - planning permissions which are due to expire by 6 October, are extended for 12 months, until 6 April 2021.

Appeals - must still be lodged within 3 months.

Legal Challenge - the time limits for submitting legal challenges to planning decisions still apply, but the Court of Session is only dealing with urgent business.

Relaxation of enforcement – hospitality industry
Effective from 18 March 2020 / reviewed June 2020
Planning authorities should not seek to undertake planning enforcement action which would result in unnecessarily restricting public houses and restaurants providing takeaway services on a temporary basis during the current exceptional circumstances. Review in September 2020 if the letter has not been withdrawn or replaced before then.

National Planning Framework 4
The preparation of NPF 4 has been delayed by 12 months. The draft NPF 4 is to be laid in Parliament in autumn 2021, with an interim position statement in autumn 2020.

Local Development Plans (LDPs)
The delay to preparation of NPF4 has a consequential impact on the preparation of LDPs by local planning authorities and NPF4 and LDPs will form the new Development Plan in the Planning (Scotland) Act 2019. Note: some authorities are continuing to progress with their preparation of their next LDP.

Interim guidance on consultation and engagement on Development Plans supports and encourages work to continue to progress in the development planning process where possible, enhancing use of digital engagement techniques alongside opportunities for one-to-one engagement within physical distancing requirements.

Transport Scotland
Transport Scotland has announced a £10m fully funded programme to create 'pop-up' cycling lanes and walking routes in response to the COVID -19 outbreak. Local authorities will receive guidance on carrying out improvements including road closures, widened pavements and increased pedestrianisation.

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