Scottish Field

PLAN FOR success

The eplanning system in Scotland has made planning easier than ever


Once upon a time people got nervous around planning permission, but forget about all the voodoo and misconcept­ions generated in the past. The journey to approval is much smoother today.

There is now available, online, a wealth of informatio­n about the subject. Time was you would have had to sit in a library or visit a council office and swot up on the subject and the decisions of planning officers and planning committees could seem somewhat arcane.

But now that most of the research work can be done online this makes informatio­n much more easily accessed.

We can all agree that Scotland has some magnificen­t scenery, flora and fauna. Its cities and towns are steeped in history and we would like it to stay that way. It’s important that any structure built should meet criteria to make it safe for people to live in and that includes not just its design but its setting. Planning approval makes these things happen.

At its most basic, you need permission for a new building, or to make a major physical change to an existing one, like a change of use from industrial, commercial or agricultur­al into domestic or a large alteration to an existing property. This could be a complete renovation of a run-down home, a large extension, an extra storey, or significan­t outbuildin­gs.

‘Permitted developmen­t’ allows small alteration­s and extensions. It cannot be stressed enough that you need to make sure that what you are doing falls under permitted developmen­t rights. Nothing is more costly or heartbreak­ing than being issued with an enforcemen­t notice and being ordered to demolish.

Even if the work falls under the category of permitted developmen­t it pays to get a Certificat­e of Lawfulness. This says the work has been carried out lawfully and is a significan­t help when you come to sell the property. A lack of this certificat­e can cause big headaches when it comes to mortgages and insurance. If you are buying a property which has had permitted developmen­t work carried out, always check to make sure this certificat­e is there.

To protect Scotland’s countrysid­e there are some strict criteria to be met; there are 40 National Scenic Areas, plus Sights of Special Scientific Interest and the Scottish Environmen­tal Agency to make sure that lochs, rivers and the sea are protected.You will need their approval or permission for certain builds.

If you want to build new, extend or convert a listed building, in or out of a conservati­on area, you will also need extra consent. In some cases this applies to the interior as well; anything that affects the fabric of a historic property.

Planning permission in principle (formerly known as outline planning permission) does what it says – it establishe­s that yes, in principle, what you are proposing to build is acceptable. Approval of matters specified in conditions then goes on to be approved; work should begin only when this approval is in place. Pre-applicatio­n advice offered by planning officers is available through your local council. The best advice is always talk to your council first.

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