While schools may be on holiday, the world of planning is not, particularly when it comes to addressing potential planning issues associated with our holiday accommodation choices… For more on which and more, read on below.

On Holyrood

Chief Planner letter: stakeholder update at the beginning of this month, Planning Minister Tom Arthur and Chief Planner Fiona Simpson issued a letter to update stakeholders on the Scottish Government’s planning work programme, included in which is confirmation that:

– consideration of responses to the recent consultation on the draft Fourth National Planning Framework (NPF4) is ongoing, with the intention being for a revised draft to be laid for the Scottish Parliament’s consideration and approval in autumn this year, and progress towards NPF4’s adoption to be made thereafter;

– temporary guidance which has supported the relaxation of planning controls during the coronavirus pandemic will be withdrawn with effect from 1 October 2022, with temporary legislative provisions introduced in response to the coronavirus pandemic (for example, the extension of the duration of consents, and suspension of the requirement for in-person pre-application consultation events) to expire at the end of September;

– some early outputs from the 5-year digital transformation of planning programme are starting to emerge, including work on a new single payment system and fee calculator, and on a new Planning Scotland Gateway, intended to enable access to all planning information and services through a single, user-friendly, online entry point;

– provisions of the Town and Country Planning (Scotland) Act 2019 which will require the duration of planning permission to be specified as a condition of the permission are expected to commence on 1 October;

– following increases to planning fees earlier this year (on which, see our February Spotlights), Planning Circular 2/2022 has been published with guidance on the new fee regime; and

– other aspects of the planning reform programme which are to be progressed over the coming months are elected member training, guidance on the appointment of Chief Planning Officers, new arrangements for performance management and the appointment of Scotland’s first National Planning Improvement Coordinator, further details on which will become available in due course.

Permitted development rights (PDRS) – in our May Spotlights, we looked at the recent proposals for new PDRs relating to vehicle charging infrastructure, changes of use in town centres, and port infrastructure, and the ongoing consultation on that, which runs until 3 August. So, with just a few days remaining, we would encourage anyone who has not responded to this to do so, with full details of the proposals and how to respond available here.

On local government

Short term let control areas – following the implementation of Scotland’s first short term let control area in Edinburgh in February this year (on which, see our February Spotlights), The Highland Council has now asked Scottish Ministers to also designate Badenoch and Strathspey as such to address concerns over the number of dwelling houses within the ward being lost to short term letting, with Perth and Kinross Council also exploring the possibility of doing the same in Highland Perthshire, where a shortage of affordable housing is causing employment problems. It will now be interesting to see how many other local authorities follow suit, and what the impact of this will be…on which, watch this space!

On other devolved nations

New use classes for short term lets and second homes in Wales – for a different approach to short term lets and second homes, our November 2021 Spotlights looked at proposed changes to Welsh planning regulations being consulted on at that time, following which three new planning use classes are now to be introduced there by the end of the summer; a primary home, a second home, and short-term holiday accommodation. And, while changes between these classes may be made under permitted development rights, local planning authorities will be able to remove those permitted development rights where there is evidence to support them doing so, such that planning permission would be needed for any changes between a property’s use as a private home, a secondary home or short-term holiday let. At the same time, there are proposals to introduce changes to national planning policy to give local authorities the ability to control the number of second homes and holiday lets in any community, and plans to introduce a statutory licensing scheme for all visitor accommodation as well. Given that Scotland faces many of the same issues as Wales in terms of demand for second homes and holiday lets, and the pressure this places on the availability and affordability of homes for people who live and work in holiday hot spots year round (reflected in the interest in the introduction of short term let control areas, as noted above), we will be watching the implementation of these new measures with interest.

On other matters

Initiatives to increase the number of planners working in Scotland – having long urged employers to nurture the next generation of planners to avoid a crisis in the profession, we’re pleased to see that the recently published RTPI Future Planners Project Report recognises that there needs to be a broadening of the routes that people can take to start a career in planning, and that initiatives such as introducing a planning apprenticeship scheme are required to increase the number of planners in Scotland. Other actions identified in the report include extending opportunities for students at all levels to gain practical experience within a planning environment (this being something we seek to facilitate through our internship scheme) and embedding work placements into the university curriculum for planning courses (which has previously been a valuable part of the Heriot Watt planning course, and something we also support). Given the important roles planners are expected to play as we emerge from the coronavirus pandemic and face the urgent challenges of climate change, we hope to see these recommendations implemented.

Consultation on listing of Alasdair Gray mural – continuing our theme of the role of public art in placemaking, Historic Environment Scotland is currently seeking views on the listing of Alasdair Grey’s mural in the entrance foyer if the Palacerigg Visitor Centre in Cumbernauld.  The artwork depicts Scottish wildlife in an idealised countryside scene, alongside industrial landscapes, so very much a reflection of everything that planning is about.

On how to get a good night’s sleep

Top UK cities for a good night’s sleep – whilst perhaps not immediately obviously related to planning, an analysis of data by Unbeatable Blinds on the key factors that can affect quality of sleep identifies comfort and safety, crowdedness, green space and air pollution, and noise levels as being the four biggest factors, all of which can be influenced by planning. Notably, Scottish cities perform particularly well in these respects, with Edinburgh and Glasgow being in the top five most comfortable cities, Aberdeen being the third least crowded city, and Edinburgh and Aberdeen both being in the top 10 greenest cities, all of which make these great places for a good night’s sleep!

On us

Earlier this month, we bade farewell to our most recent intern Ross, who will be returning to university after the summer to finish his planning course and continue a career in planning from there. Meanwhile, Ross will be introducing potential new planning students to the wonderful world of planning, and hopefully also having a well-earned break. Likewise, we will also be trying to find some time to relax before the end of the summer holiday period, with us each having a couple of weeks of leave to look forward to.

Meantime, to find out how we can help with any aspect of the planning process, please visit our website or email us at info@auroraplanning.co.uk. 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


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