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Ministerial involvement in planning decisions

Scottish Ministers deal with a variety of casework in relation to the planning system and have a role in confirming various legislative orders and directions.

Applications for planning permission, listed building consent and conservation area consent are dealt with firstly by the local planning authority. Scottish Ministers can intervene in the determination of a planning application where a matter of genuine national interest may be at stake.

Ministers only intervene occasionally because local authorities have an important decision-making role in the future development of their areas. Ministers can only intervene before the planning authority's decision letter is issued.

Notified applications

Planning authorities must notify Scottish Ministers if they intend to grant planning permission for certain categories of development or if a key agency has objected to a development. These are known as notified applications.

These include planning applications, listed building consent applications, conservation area applications and scheduled monument consent applications.

Planning Circular 3/2009: Notification of Planning Applications describes this procedure; we have also produced a Notified Application process map and checklist.

Directions are now in place for the following development types:

Planning decisions

We provide a list of current planning proposals under consideration.

Listed Building, Conservation Area and Scheduled Monument Consents

Since the creation of Historic Environment Scotland (HES), Scottish Ministers' duties now include handling:

  • notified Listed Building Consents and Conservation Area Consents
  • applications where HES has advised against the granting of permission
  • Scheduled Monument consent where HES is minded to grant consent for works which exceed the minimum necessary to protect what is culturally significant about the monument
  • other ministerial casework such as Listed Building Compulsory Purchase Orders

New notification directions were published covering listed building consent, conservation area consent, scheduled monument consent and heritage impacts.

The Historic Environment Circular 1 outlines planning process changes relating to the historic environment.

Conservation Area Notifications

It is a statutory requirement for local authorities to notify Scottish Ministers of any designation, boundary variation or cancellation of a conservation area made under Section 61 of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) (Scotland) Act 1997.

Historic Environment Scotland (HES) must also be informed of any changes to conservation areas. Planning authorities are required to email HES (HMConsultations@hes.scot) and Planning Decisions (Planning.Decisions@gov.scot) simultaneously when a conservation area notification is required.

Certain information must be included with a notification:

  • the publication of the designation, de-designation or changes to boundaries by way of an advert/notice in the Edinburgh Gazette and one local newspaper within the planning authority area
  • a location map showing the conservation area boundary
  • a GIS shapefile showing the conservation area boundary
  • an address list of all streets/properties affected by the designation
  • a copy of the conservation area character appraisal and/or conservation area management plan, if available

Appeals

The applicant has a right of appeal to Scottish Ministers in cases where

  • a planning application for development is refused by the planning authority
  • the proposed conditions are unacceptable
  • the local authority has not issued a decision within eight weeks

In the case of delegated decisions the appeal would be made to the council's Local Review Body.

Appeals to Scottish Ministers that do not raise issues of national importance are usually delegated to a reporter from the Planning and Environmental Appeals Division who will make a decision on their behalf. Appeals for Listed Building Consent and Conservation Area Consent do not go the Local Review Body but straight to the Planning and Environmental Appeals Division (DPEA). The planning appeals page contains more information.

Where issues raise matters of genuine national concern or where there is a connection with another ministerial case, appeals can also be 'recalled' to be determined by Scottish Ministers themselves.

A decision on a planning application or an appeal by ministers (or under delegated powers on their behalf) is final. Parties may, however, seek an appeal to the Court of Session within six weeks of the final decision. The Court of Session cannot change a decision but it can quash the decision and force ministers to reconsider.

Compulsory Purchase Orders

A Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) can allow councils and other organisations to purchase property without the owner's permission, if there is a strong enough case for this in the public interest.

For example, a CPO can be used to enable:

  • road construction, alteration or improvement projects
  • restoration of derelict historic buildings
  • housing developments
  • town centre regeneration

CPOs promoted by public bodies and infrastructure providers must be confirmed by Scottish Ministers. If someone objects to a CPO then the case is referred to DPEA for a report to be prepared to inform Scottish Ministers' decision. Ministers will consider the report and any remaining objections, and weigh up the proposed public benefit of the project underpinning the CPO against the interests of the people affected.

Ministers may choose to:

  • confirm a CPO
  • confirm a CPO with modifications
  • not confirm the CPO

You can find more information about CPOs, including details of cases considered by Ministers and a range of guidance notes, on our CPO pages.

Article 4 Directions

An Article 4 Direction is made by a local planning authority. It is a statement made under the Town and Country Planning Act which restricts permitted development rights. These directions must usually be approved/confirmed by Scottish Ministers before coming into effect. Local residents and others likely to be affected by any proposed Direction will normally be consulted by the planning authority.

Within conservation areas planning permission will usually be required for specific types of development which would otherwise be permitted. For example:

  • the replacement of doors and windows
  • the erection of gates, fences, garages, sheds, porches or storage tanks
  • the installation of satellite antennae

You can find more information in our 'Guide to Conservation Areas in Scotland'.

Stopping Up Orders

If there is a need to divert or 'stop up' a road, footpath or bridleway permanently to enable a development to be carried out, a 'Stopping Up Order' may be required. Stopping Up Orders are usually enforced by councils and should only be submitted to Scottish Ministers for action if the planning authority has been unable to resolve any objections they receive. Find out more in our process map and checklist for Stopping Up Orders.

Flood Protection Schemes

Where a local authority confirms a proposed Flood Protection Scheme under paragraph 4(1) or 9(1) of schedule 2 to the Flood Risk Management (Scotland) Act 2009, it must request that the Scottish Ministers direct that planning permission for any development described in the scheme is to be deemed to be granted. It is Scottish Ministers' role to grant, grant with conditions or refuse a Flood Protection Scheme (FPS).

We've produced a process map and checklist to help authorities when submitting Flood Protection scheme cases to Scottish Ministers. This clarifies the required information we need from you to make a decision.

Other Ministerial decisions

Other types of cases should be submitted to Scottish Ministers. These are submitted less frequently than those case types listed above:

  • Modification Orders
  • Revocation Orders
  • Control of Advertisement
  • Hazardous Substance Orders
  • Completion Notices
  • Discontinuance Notices
  • Purchase Notices

Disclaimer on Ministerial Decisions

There may be other cases which are not included in this list or where the process is different or more complex. In these instances, our Planning Decisions team can provide advice.