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Value For Money? Changes To Planning Applications

Value For Money? Changes To Planning Applications

Fees for planning applications in Scotland will increase by approximately 20% from 6 April 2013.

The Scottish Government has introduced legislation in Parliament which, if approved, will mean that the maximum fee for a planning application will increase from £15,950 to £19,100.  Fees for other applications will also increase by around 20% across the board. This will mean, for example, that the fee for a house extension will rise from £160 to £192 for any application submitted on or after 6 April 2013. 

Developers are unlikely to welcome these substantial increases in the current economic climate, particularly if there is no appreciable improvement in the time it takes to determine applications.  However, it could have been much worse as the Scottish Government initially proposed increasing the maximum fee for planning applications to £100,000.  The Scottish Government points out that even with these increases, planning fees will remain lower than those in England where the maximum fee is £250,000. 

My advice would be, where possible, to submit your planning applications before April to beat the fee rise.

Changes to Application Procedures

A number of minor amendments to planning legislation came into force on 2 February 2013.  These measures are aimed at simplifying some of the procedures that were introduced in 2009 when the planning regime was overhauled.

Since the requirement to carry out pre-application consultations for national and major developments was introduced in 2009, developers have complained about having to carry out consultations for applications under section 42 of the Town and Country Planning (Scotland) Act 1997. Section 42 applications are required where a developer wants to vary the conditions on a planning permission that has already been granted.  In the eyes of developers, the need to carry out pre-application consultations, and the consequent 12 week hiatus before a s42 application can be submitted, leads to unnecessary expense, uncertainty and delay.

Happily, the Scottish Government has listened to these concerns.  A change to the regulations means that s42 applications made on or after 2 February 2013 will not require pre-application consultation.

Another change is that, from 2 February 2013, a developer who has applied for planning permission for a local development which is being determined under a scheme of delegation by an appointed planning officer can agree to extend the statutory period of 2 months for determination of the application.  Previously, the 2 month time period could not be extended by agreement (unlike applications for major developments or local developments which are determined by the planning committee).

The effect of the changes is that the applicant and the planning officer can agree in writing to extend the determination period so that the right to appeal against deemed refusal by requesting a review by a local review body will apply if the application has not been determined within the extended period.  An extension can be agreed at any time before the period for seeking a local review on the grounds of deemed refusal expires i.e. before the extended determination period and the 3 month period for seeking a review have expired.  The right to extend the determination period will apply to applications made before and after 2 February 2013.

Emma Dewar
Associate

LChalmers