Consultation: Proposed changes to pre-application consultation requirements in planning

The Scottish Government has published a consultation paper on proposed changes to pre-application consultation requirements in planning.

The paper relates to proposed changes to the existing requirements for pre-application consultation (PAC) with local communities on national and major developments. These requirements were introduced in 2009, as part of the implementation of the Planning etc. (Scotland) Act 2006.

The proposed changes to PAC are the first part of a wider package of measures on improving community engagement in planning matters and building public trust. The proposals for changes to PAC come from, in part, the report by the independent panel assigned to review the Scottish planning system: ‘Empowering Planning To Deliver Great Places’ (May 2016).

The report referred to concerns that PAC can be a ‘tick box’ exercise and that there was a lack of feedback to communities on their views in the pre-application phase – i.e. prior to the finalised application being made. The report recommended an additional public event to allow for greater discussion of proposals. Subsequent consultation indicated a need for clarity and transparency around the process.

In addition, since the inception of PAC, there have been concerns about PAC requiring to be repeated in situations where a PAC has been conducted previously and an application made, and then the developer seeks to make a subsequent application for the same, basic development. The Planning (Scotland) Act 2019, which was developed as part of the response to the review mentioned above, includes new powers to specify exemptions from PAC requirements.

The proposed changes are not COVID-19 related.