This research findings report provides a summary of the main report on the Review of the General Permitted Development Order 1992 and the Review of the General Permitted Development Order 1992: Householder Report.
Recommendations are founded on improving the clarity, simplicity, ease of understanding, consistency and currency of the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (Scotland) Order 1992 (the GPDO). They include:
- Making the GPDO easier to understand, interpret and use, including a new format for the presentation of permitted development rights, easy-read and web-based versions in plain English, and separate user guidance.
- Simplifying permitted development rights as far as possible, reducing the uncertainties associated with interpretation of criteria and terminology, reducing the need for prior approval by the planning authority, and reducing the number of Parts of the Order from 25 to 20.
- Improving consistency across Classes where justified by circumstances ( e.g. in relation to permitted development within designated areas).
- Resolving anomalies about private ways by consolidating all permitted development rights for private ways into one comprehensive Class.
- Clarifying permitted development for agricultural operations, and the permitted development rights available to statutory undertakers.
- Extending permitted development rights for industrial and warehouse development.
- Introducing new permitted development rights for micro-generation equipment and development ancillary to waste management operations.
- Minor reforms to the other Parts of the GPDO.
- Recommendations for reform of householder development include:
- A change from expressing permitted development limits as a proportion of the original dwelling to a proportion of the dwelling curtilage.
- Inclusion of flats within the definition of a "dwellinghouse".
- A combination and rationalization of Classes 1-3, proposing extended, clear, objective and measurable limits for permitted development.
- Expression of revised permitted development limits in straightforward language, and the removal of discretionary judgement and associated uncertainties.
Testing these recommendations against a sample of 50 householder development decisions indicated they should reduce by 38% the annual number of householder applications submitted to planning authorities. They should also provide: a clearer, simpler unambiguous expression of permitted development rights; an associated reduction in planning appeals; a significant reduction in development enquiries to planning authorities; a significant reduction in enforcement activity by planning authorities.
Aims and Objectives
The overall aim of the research was to review the appropriateness of the planning permissions set out in the GPDO, and some of the related mechanisms, and recommend changes to simplify it and bring it up to date. This included the potential to deregulate householder developments under Part 1 of Schedule 1 to the GPDO, and establish appropriate new parameters for permitted development.
Within this, the specific objectives were to:
i. identify any issues which arise from the way the GPDO operates in practice;
ii. evaluate the impact, effect and effectiveness of the GPDO regime;
iii. assess the existing permitted development rights to see if they are in line with current Government policy (in the widest sense) and up-to-date in their expression;
iv. assess the existing conditions, qualifications and restrictions attached to the permitted development rights in the GPDO to see if they are in line with current Government policy and up to date in their expression;
v. consider whether any additional permitted development rights should be introduced or existing rights removed;
vi. consider whether any additional conditions, qualifications and restrictions should be introduced;
vii. consider the potential for increasing permitted development rights for householder developments;
viii. consider whether there is a need for greater consistency across the GPDO;
ix. consider how the GPDO provisions, including the Articles, could be made clearer and more comprehensible;
x. consider the operation of the Articles (and in particular Article 4) to see if they are fully effective;
xi. analyse and report on how the exemptions in Regulations 3 and 5 of the Building (Scotland) Regulations coincide, or do not coincide, with permitted development rights for householder development as they currently exist and to recommend any necessary amendments to either regime.
The overall intention was to develop a GPDO which is easy to understand for planning authorities and developers, balances the needs of developers and the policy aims of government with the need to respect local communities and the amenity and environment of their areas.
Research methods employed to achieve the overall aim and the specific objectives included:
i. a literature review of previous research on permitted development, including equivalent studies for England and Northern Ireland;
ii. a review of case law;
iii. an audit of the GPDO against government policies;
iv. a general questionnaire on the GPDO, sent to all Scottish planning authorities and over 100 other organizations, including statutory undertakers, government agencies and Non-departmental Public Bodies;
v. follow-up interviews and workshops with selected officers of planning authorities and other organizations, to explore particular issues in depth;
vi. a specific questionnaire on householder permitted development, including options for change;
vii. statistical analysis of data on:
- planning and related consents for the period 1997/98 to 2004/05;
- farm and forestry notifications and decisions, for the period 1997/98 to 2004/05;
- use of Article 4 Directions.
- trends in householder developments;
viii. Analysis of a sample of 50 householder development cases.
The GPDO is a piece of secondary legislation, granting planning permission for 72 Classes of development, organised into 25 Parts of Schedule 1. As such, it is a complex and easily out-dated mechanism for deregulating appropriate categories of minor development, difficult to understand and interpret. As well as providing a measure of deregulation, it imposes conditions and limitations which, as a consequence of incremental reform, are inconsistent and often perplexing to users. Although it has been amended many times, there is no authorized, consolidated and updated version. Taken together with its inherent complexity of language and layout, it risks unauthorised development arising from misinterpretation, and inconsistent decision-making by planning authorities, based on limited or outdated understanding, creating a climate of uncertainty for all.
The GPDO was not conceived to contribute to some of today's policy aims. In reflects them only through piecemeal amendments, which run behind the policy agenda and the development of new technologies, such as micro-renewable energy generation.
By its nature, the Order is concerned with minor developments, and current general and specific limitations on permitted development rights greatly restrict the threat these pose to the achievement of policy aims, even through cumulative development.
The GPDO needs to have a clear and well understood rationale, addressed to contemporary operating conditions, in the context of the Scottish Executive's proposals for modernizing the planning system, including re-focusing planning services to promote sustainable development, re-invigorating the plan-led system, and strengthening customer focus.
Householder developments comprise almost half of all planning and related permissions, one third of all appeals, and more than half of all enforcement cases. Most householder developments are for alterations and extensions. The annual rate of approval of householder consents has remained constant at around 97%. A very small proportion of householder developments raise irresolvable issues.
A survey of planning officers, community councillors, professional bodies and others on a range of reform options showed strongest support for a relaxation of existing limitations on householder permitted development specified in Part 1 of Schedule 1 of the GPDO, but very little support for more radical solutions based on delegation to other bodies or rationalisation with Building Regulations.
With regard to the GPDO as a whole, more than half of local authority planning officers surveyed had various concerns about Parts 1 (development within the curtilage of a dwellinghouse), 2 (sundry minor operations), 4 (temporary buildings and uses), 5 (caravan sites), 6 (agricultural buildings and operations), 7 (forestry buildings and operations), 8 (industrial and warehouse development), 12 (development by local authorities), 13 (development by statutory undertakers), 20 (development by telecommunication code systems operators) and 23 (demolition of buildings). For other organizations, more than half of respondents had various concerns about Parts 4, 6 and 9 (repairs to private roads and private ways). For both planning officers and other organizations, these concerns reflected a variety of different issues, ranging from the need to reduce or extend permitted development rights, to clarifying terminology.
There was very strong support for introducing permitted development rights for micro-renewable equipment, for both domestic and non-domestic properties, subject to specification of limits on height and noise, and exclusions within Conservation Areas and on Listed Buildings. Both local authority planning officers and other organizations showed such support. There was more limited support for introducing permitted development rights for development associated with waste management.
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