Aurora Spotlights - September 2020

Aurora Spotlights - September 2020

by aurora planning

As we move into autumn, we are starting to brace ourselves for the end of the Brexit transition period in just a few months’ time, we have learned that there are sharks in Regents Canal in London, and this all makes us really want a beer! These aren’t just passing observations, but reflect some of the diverse matters having an impact on the built environment this month. For more on which, read on below…  
On Holyrood
Consultation on changes to Scottish Planning Policy – in our July Spotlights, we looked at proposed changes to Scottish Planning Policy, including the removal of the presumption in favour of sustainable development. While consultation on this is ongoing until 9 October, the Chief Planner has this month written to planning authorities to stress that no decisions have yet been taken in respect of any potential changes, and that there is, as yet, no change to the existing policy. In other words, the consultation is not to be taken as a direction from Ministers to which weight should be given in planning decisions. If you wish to discuss how the proposed changes might affect you or your business, or if we can be of any assistance in responding to the consultation, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.
Consultation on Short-Term Lets Licensing Scheme and Planning Control Areas in Scotland – with the Planning (Scotland) Act 2019 allowing for the designation of short-term let control areas (in which planning permission would be required for the use of a dwellinghouse for the purpose of providing short-term lets), the Scottish Government has published a consultation paper on a Short-Term Lets Licensing Scheme and Planning Control Areas in Scotland. Responses are invited up to 16 October, although it could be April 2022 before the new licensing system is in force.  That is likely to be a cause of frustration for many who were hoping to see issues caused by a prevalence of short term lets in hotspots, such as Edinburgh, addressed sooner, particularly given that case law has indicated that a change of use should have been required for these anyway before the 2019 Act was passed.
On Westminster
Brexit lorry parks – as we approach the end of the Brexit transition period and concerns mount about the implications of this for the transport of goods to and from the EU, an order has been published to allow land in key council areas in England to be used as temporary lorry parks without the need to apply for planning permission (The Town and Country Planning (Border Facilities and Infrastructure) (EU Exit) (England) Special Development Order 2020). These are intended to be temporary provisions, with any such development to cease by 31 December 2025 but, as with many Brexit related matters, it remains to be seen if this may be extended. Meantime, it is an early indicator of the pressure that existing infrastructure is likely to come under as a result of Brexit, and the changes that might be needed to our built environment to adapt to this.
Legal challenge to extended permitted development rights – our July Spotlights highlighted new permitted development rights in England which came into force in August, and concerns about the extent to which the quality of new homes delivered as permitted development could be ensured. In light of such concerns, the campaign group “Rights: Community: Action” has raised a legal challenge to the new rights, with a ‘rolled-up’ hearing on this to be heard in October, expediting the judicial review process. For the outcome of which, watch this space!
On local government
Aberdeen Low Emission Zone Options – Aberdeen City Council is consulting on proposals to create a Low Emission Zone (LEZ) in the centre of the city, in which only certain vehicles will be able to enter, based on their emission standards.  As the name suggests, this is intended to lower emissions in the proposed area (one of four in Scotland) with a number of monitoring locations within it showing that levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) in the air regularly exceed European and national objective limits. As stated on the Council’s consultation portal:
“This is a concern because poor air quality is known to worsen a number of health conditions, particularly those affecting the heart and lungs, and to disproportionately impact the health and wellbeing of the most vulnerable members of our society. The main source of NO2 emissions is road traffic hence the need for a LEZ that addresses the most polluting vehicles.”
Further details on the proposed zone and how to respond to the consultation are available here, with responses invited until 11 October.
Changes to pre-application advice enquiry services – it has always been the case that different local authorities across Scotland have taken different approaches to the provision of pre-application advice, with some charging a fee for enquiries and others not, as well as differences in the form and content of advice given in response. This continues to be the case, as exemplified by changes to procedures in Aberdeenshire and in Glasgow respectively this month:

- in Aberdeenshire, a new pre-application enquiry service will go live on 1 October, seeking to encourage a greater level of pre-application engagement and improve the quality of feedback provided. This will continue to be a free service, with the Council hoping that the new service will provide greater certainty for agents and applicants, including on how a proposed development could be improved and the information required to support an application; and

- in Glasgow, there are no changes to the service itself, but new charges will be introduced from 5 October, costing £150 for enquiries about local schemes and £2,000 for enquiries relating to major developments. Advice with regards to householder developments will remain free of charge due to the “relatively uncomplicated nature” of these projects.

On the courts
An enforcement case with teeth… - “Sharks” is a piece of modern art consisting of a group of fiberglass sharks on a raft which was to be installed on Regent’s Canal in London, with the sharks to have been accompanied by an audio visual display, sing Charles Trenet’s La Mer (in harmony and in French of course), and impart lectures on “important themes in contemporary architecture and urbanism” (according to the installation description). This was the 2020 winning entry of the annual Antepavilion Competition, the brief for which referred to “an ambition to expose and question the authoritarian workings of our planning culture”, and particularly invited entries that “respond to the tension between authoritarian governance of the built environment and aesthetic libertarianism”. Perhaps unsurprisingly given this brief, installation of the piece commenced without planning permission, prompting the Council to seek and obtain an injunction against this, continuation of which was this month granted by the High Court of England and Wales (London Borough of Hackney v Shiva Limited [2020] EWHC 2489 (QB)). A final hearing will be heard next month but, meanwhile, the sharks which had been installed to date require to be removed, and we will wait with baited breath to see if they will ultimately bite back…
On other matters
Community owned beer – what a great combination of words this is! With the Isle of Eigg having been in community ownership since 1997, plans are now being taken forward to build Scotland’s first community owned brewery on the island, with this intended to create jobs and contribute to the sustainability of the island’s economy. Hopefully we’ll be able to try one of their beers before too long!
On us
Whetting our appetite for community owned beer, we have also been learning about community led regeneration this month, thanks to a very informative online seminar on the Midsteeple Quarter Project organised by the Dumfries and Galloway Chapter of the RTPI. The Midsteeple Quarter Project is an ambitious innovative community led and owned initiative to acquire, redevelop and bring back into productive use 8 vacant / underused properties within the heart of Dumfries town centre, with the buildings to be refurbished as affordable enterprise space at street level and good quality flats for rent on the floors above.  We’re really looking forward to seeing it take shape!
Meantime, to find out how we can help with any aspect of the planning process, please visit our website or email us at  Or, if you would like to see our other blogs or sign up for email updates, please click here.
Thanks for reading!

Pippa and Maggie


Back to blog →

Find out more about our services here, or get in touch to discuss how we can help you.

Get in touch