Rural planning to be prioritised under ‘radical’ shake-up



The need for planning permission could be removed for certain types of rural developments to help tackle depopulation and support local economies, under new proposals from the Scottish Government.

Small scale developments such as the conversion of agricultural buildings to deliver more homes in rural areas could automatically be given the go-ahead under a review of planning laws.

The development of larger operational farm buildings including sheds and polytunnels could also be exempted.

The changes are being considered as part of a new action plan to implement a radical shake-up of planning laws.

Removal of planning permission for developments that help address climate change is also being considered.

Permitted Development Rights remove the need to apply for planning permission and typically relate to minor or uncontroversial developments where planning permission would likely be granted.

The Scottish Government is currently seeking views on its Sustainability Appraisal of options for expanding Permitted Development Rights across 16 development types.

The report sets out the likely significant environmental, social and economic effects of options for change, and was informed by the views of a Virtual Review Group of key stakeholders such as Scottish Environment Link, National Farmers Union Scotland and telecommunications providers.

Planning minister Kevin Stewart said: “Scotland’s rural areas are a major source of growth, with environmental quality that underpins key sectors such as food and drink, tourism, energy and the creative industries. That’s why tackling depopulation and supporting the sustainability our rural communities is so important.

“I believe these reforms will help support work aimed at increasing the rural population, will support succession planning for farmers and will provide an opportunity for the planning system to positively contribute to the long-term sustainability of rural businesses and communities.”

Welcoming the review, Gavin Mowat, policy adviser at Scottish Land & Estates, said: “Unique challenges exist in our rural areas and all too often, the planning system appears to be focused on regulation rather than delivering positive solutions to those issues. The government’s announcement is very welcome news in this regard, providing attention on how planning policy can help deliver thriving rural communities.

“Removing the need for planning permission for many types of development, such as converting agricultural buildings to residential use, can not only help to address rural depopulation but also provide a boost for businesses looking to diversify their existing assets.

“Similarly, a relaxation of rules around micro-renewables such as solar panels, biomass and free-standing wind turbines has the ability to not only boost the rural economy but also assist the Scottish Government in meeting its ambitious environmental targets to address the global climate emergency.

“We’re delighted that government is recognising the obstacles faced by rural areas and the right policy changes can help empower communities to address those challenges. We hope to see this theme continue as the National Planning Framework 4 is developed.”



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