PLANNING NEWSLETTER

SCOTLAND JULY 2017

PLANNING SUCCESS

Bidwells Planning has successfully secured listed building and advertisement consent on behalf of Stonegate Pub Co for internal alterations and fascia signage to one of their Category A listed properties situated in Edinburgh’s historic west end.

The applications were fast tracked and determined within six weeks compared with the statutory eight week period.

 

LEGISLATION UPDATE

Electronic Communications Infrastructure Permitted Development Rights

Working in partnership with FarrPoint Ltd (an IT technology solutions company), Bidwells was appointed by the Scottish Government in late 2015 to explore the potential for extensions to Permitted Development (PD) rights for electronic telecommunication infrastructure and propose recommendations for further changes. PD rights eliminate the need for planning permission, under certain circumstances.
In Summer 2016, the final report on this topic was published by the Scottish Government and the findings and recommendations have recently been the basis for further Scottish Government consultation. This consultation was open for comments from Summer to November 2016. Participants in this consultation ranged from members of the public to heritage and environment bodies. These responses will inform the final drafting of legislation and planning guidance on PDR for electronic communications infrastructure.
In June 2017, legislation was laid before Scottish Parliament seeking to amend PDR for electronic communications infrastructure. These changes will be effective as of 31 July 2017. The key changes are:

In all areas
All developers will be required to serve advance notice on local authorities before utilising PDR for new ground masts. This notification will request the local authority to determine whether prior approval for the proposal is required. Before serving notice, notification of landowners and agricultural tenants will be required.

Designated areas
In addition to current designated areas, World Heritage Sites will be added to the current list where there are additional restrictions applicable to PDR. A-listed buildings and scheduled monuments are to be removed from this list. However, these buildings will continue to have restrictions on PDR through their own consenting process.

Outside designated areas
Removal of restrictions for ‘small antennas’ and ‘small cell systems’ other than those on dwelling houses and in their curtilage.

NEW EIA REGULATIONS WILL IMPACT ON BUILDING PROJECTS

Changes in EIA (Environmental Impact Assessment) regulations were enforced on 16 May 2017 within The Town and Country Planning (Environmental Impact Assessment) (Scotland) Regulations 2017. The objective of the regulations is to allow the planning authority to make decisions based on a comprehensive knowledge of potential significant effects of a proposed development. The benefits of the EIA process to our clients is that it allows for early identification of noteworthy potential environmental effects of their proposal. It also plays a role in option testing within site appraisals.

 

The key points of relevance for our clients are:

  • The need for competent professionals to prepare EIA reports. Whilst there is ambiguity over the term “competent experts”, Bidwells is an IEMA EIA Quality Mark accredited firm with a qualified team of practitioners available for your project. Bidwells is just one of four UK property consultants with the IEMA EIA Quality Mark, which recognises that we are at the forefront of good practice and expertise in EIA. Bidwells provides advice on individual cases and advises on the best strategy and options regarding EIA and the forthcoming regulations.
  • Additional information is now required for EIA Screening Reports which may have implications for determination timescales. Currently, determination for Screening Opinions by authorities is usually three weeks.
  • A beneficial change is that there is now greater clarity on the content of the EIA Report and a new provision that, where a Scoping Opinion is requested, the EIA Report must be “based on” that opinion. Scoping remains non-mandatory. This provides clarity for our clients on the scale of work required.
  • Whilst there are no changes proposed regarding any breach of EIA legislation, it is important to note that it is a matter for the courts to determine whether any breach has occurred and if any potential penalties should be administered.

Bidwells offers expertise, commitment to best practice and exceptional results to our clients. For more information, please do not hesitate to contact the team who would be delighted to discuss the details in relation to your development aspirations.


FEE HIKE CONCERN

The Scottish Government consulted at the start of 2017 on the findings of a recent independent review of the current planning application fee structure. The review advised on significant fee increases for major applications to assist better resource recovery. Bidwells raised concerns regarding the potential impact of a significant increase in maximum fees for the rural development sector. This view was reached by drawing upon recent experience that increased fees would create an additional obstacle for developments which are critical in supporting the rural economy.

Bidwells also raised concerns regarding Scottish Government’s suggestion that this increase will enable full cost recovery for local authorities, when there were no details provided on the ring-fencing measures required. Disappointingly, there was little discussion in the consultation paper regarding accountability of local authorities for the increased funding. These issues remain unresolved. Bidwells will keep our clients updated on these matters.

In April 2017, Kevin Stewart MSP, Minister for Local Government & Housing announced that, following the consultation, the maximum fee cap for the majority of major ‘full’ applications will increase from £20,055 to £125,000, with the new cap for planning permission in principle rising to £62,000. These changes came into effect on 1 June 2017.

Mr Stewart also stated that this will be the first of two stages of proposed changes which he hopes will improve planning authority performance. Bidwells are committed to engaging in the subsequent stages to shape the future of the Scottish planning system.

 

£62,000
is the new cap for planning permission in principle

 

 

 

 


£125,000
maximum fee cap for the majority of 'full' applications, that's an increase of over £100,000

 

 

 

 

 

 

PROPOSED WEST HIGHLAND AND ISLANDS LOCAL DEVELOPMENT PLAN (LDP)

Once adopted, the West Highland and Islands Local Development Plan (LDP) will form part of the Development Plan along with the Highland-wide LDP.

The document is the draft written development strategy and policy framework and will direct and regulate development for the West Highland and Islands area for the next 20 years.
This proposed document was published in May 2017 and comments will be accepted until 21 July 2017. This is a critical time for engagement with The Highland Council to ensure your land is considered and assessed for its development potential.
Bidwells has a strong track record for delivering clearly rationalised representations for clients.

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