PART 2 - GENERAL ISSUES
Summary of the Main Changes Proposed
13. We propose to simplify and potentially remove approximately 20-25% of householder planning applications by making the following key changes:
- Creating 3 New Classes. This will mean it is easier to apply development proposals to the appropriate Class and for the limitations in each Class to be more relevant. In particular, creating a Class for a single storey extension should mean many "rear" single storey extensions would become permitted development;
- Expanded the use principal elevation to distinguish what is usually the front and rear of a house, in order to relax restrictions on development in rear gardens;
- Allow alterations and improvements to houses or flats (other than extensions) if within a 1 metre "bubble" around the walls or roof of a house or flat. This removes the current complex provisions for satellite dishes and some domestic microgeneration equipment and clarifies the position on roof lights;
- Introducing a new site coverage criterion to replace the current floorspace limits and 30% ground coverage criterion with a limitation meaning that there must be at least the same area of garden remaining undeveloped as developed. This would, in most cases, allow a visual assessment rather than having to calculate precise areas;
- New definition for calculating the height of a building and external dimensions. This should allow greater protection for neighbours on sloping ground and using external dimensions is more practical and straightforward to assess; and
- Maintain strict controls for development within conservation areas and within the curtilage of listed buildings.
Creating More Classes
14. The current Class 1 of the 1992 Order (the enlargement, improvement or other alteration of a dwellinghouse) is proposed to be divided into 3 separate Classes (single storey ground floor extensions; all other extensions; and any other improvement or alteration not involving an enlargement). The reason for doing this is to make it easier to identify the appropriate Class of permitted development and to apply more relevant limitations to each Class. For example, the proposed Order separates two storey extensions from single storey extensions, and hence the proposed limitations are not the same as for single storey extensions.
15. In a similar manner, the current Class 2 of the 1992 Order (any alteration to the roof of a dwellinghouse including the enlargement of a dwellinghouse by way of an addition or alteration to its roof) is proposed to be divided into 2 separate Classes covering an enlargement by way of a roof alteration (e.g. a dormer) and any other improvement or alteration to the roof that is not an enlargement.
16. The current Class 3 (the provision within the curtilage of a dwellinghouse of any building or enclosure, swimming or other pool required for a purpose incidental to the enjoyment of the dwellinghouse, or the maintenance, improvement or other alteration of such a building or enclosure) would also be divided into 2 separate Classes to cover an outbuilding and any other development not amounting to a building.
17. The result of this increased differentiation of Classes is that the current Class 6 (the installation, alteration or replacement of a microwave antenna on a dwellinghouse or within the curtilage of a dwellinghouse) and Classes 6A to 6F (installation of domestic microgeneration equipment) are no longer required, as this type of development would fall within the proposed Classes 3, 5 or 6A.
18. The current Class 4 (the provision within the curtilage of a dwellinghouse of a hard surface for any purpose incidental to the enjoyment of the dwellinghouse) becomes new Class 6B (subject to a new standard condition) and new Classes are introduced for decking, porches and improvements and alterations to flats.
19. The current Class 7 (the erection, construction, maintenance, improvement or alteration of a gate, fence, wall or other means of enclosure) becomes Class 6CB, with the limitations reflecting the approaches used in the other new Classes.
20. The proposed changes to the classes are summarised in the table below.
Current Class of the 1992 Order
(enlargement, improvement or other alteration of a dwellinghouse)
Divide into 3 separate Classes to make it easier to identify the appropriate Class of permitted development and to apply more relevant limitations to each Class.
For example, the proposed Order separates two storey extensions from single storey extensions, and hence the proposed limitations that are not the same as for a single storey extension.
Class 1 - single storey ground floor extensions.
Class 2 - all other extensions.
Class 3 - and any other improvement or alteration not involving an enlargement.
(alteration to the roof of a dwellinghouse, including enlargement of the dwellinghouse)
Divide into 2 separate Classes
Class 4 - covering an enlargement by way of a roof alteration (e.g. a dormer).
Class 5 - any other improvement or alteration to the roof that is not an enlargement.
(provision of any building or enclosure or pool within a curtilage)
Divide into 2 separate Classes
Class 6 - any outbuilding.
Class 6A - any other building, engineering, installation or other operation
Becomes new Class 6B
(Subject to a new standard condition)
Classes 6A to 6F (domestic microgeneration)
Classes for Satellite Dishes and some domestic microgeneration equipment are no longer required, as this type of development would fall within the proposed Classes 3, 5 or 6A.
Would fall within the proposed Classes 3, 5 or 6A.
(gates, walls, fences etc)
Becomes new Class 6CB
21. There would also have to be some relatively minor consequential changes to the remainder of the other Classes in the 1992 Order where there is an inter-relationship with householder developments.
Q1. Do you agree that the new structure of the householder development Classes makes the rules easier to apply?
Q2. Are the new Classes sensible and workable?
Q3. Do you agree that the new structure and rules would reduce the number of applications and queries?
Concept of Principal Elevation
22. The new Classes 1, 6, 6A, 6C and 6CB propose a different approach to defining the front and rear of a dwellinghouse. This is so that fewer restrictions apply to development in the rear of a house.
23. The Principal Elevation Concept is set out in more detail in the proposed Circular, in Annex C. The assumption is that every house has one elevation designed as its main or principal elevation. This will normally be the front of the house. Having identified the principal elevation the side and rear elevations can therefore be identified.
24. Concerns were expressed about using this approach in the previous consultation and subsequent stakeholder engagement. It has been argued that disputes will arise as to what is or is not the principal elevation, that a new subjective assessment is being introduced and that a site visit may be necessary to answer a simple enquiry. A small working group tested alternative approaches, which included revising the definition of a road.
25. A similar approach has been used in England since 2008 and is currently being examined as a solution in Northern Ireland. Our testing has demonstrated that in the vast majority of cases the front and back of a house are commonly understood. We recognise that there are occasions where the principal elevation concept introduces complexities, in particular in isolated houses in the country and houses which have a designed rear elevation which may front a road. Our testing has also shown that using the concept of the principal elevation is a more suitable method of defining public realm when compared to using references to a road in isolating and hence removing uncontroversial developments to the rear of properties.
26. The 1992 Order also generates the need for a site visit, because such a large proportion of householder developments require the submission of a formal planning application. The Scottish Government considers, on balance, that the benefits in reducing the number of unnecessary planning applications far outweigh the disadvantages.
Q4. Do you agree with the proposed approach to identifying and defining the front and back using the principal elevation concept? If not, can you suggest a suitable alternative?
1 metre "bubble" around the walls and roof of a house for alterations and improvements (other than extensions)
27. A key change resulting from the proposed new structure is isolating enlargements (i.e. extensions, dormer windows etc) from all other alterations and improvements. It is proposed to allow all other alterations and improvements, as permitted development subject to a 1 metre restriction. This can best be visualised as allowing a 1 metre "bubble" surrounding the walls and roof of a house, within which a householder will not require planning permission.
28. This approach removes the need for development specific Classes such as the current Class 6 and Classes 6A to 6F, with their complex rules. Our discussion have identified that they are frequently ignored or misunderstood and rarely enforced.
29. The proposed approach provides individual householders, other than those in conservation areas or with listed buildings, considerable scope to alter the appearance of their house. The 1992 Order allows considerable scope for development but most householders do not take advantage of the full scope. The Scottish Government therefore considers that the vast majority of householders will continue to exercise their rights responsibly.
Q5. Do you agree with the proposed 1 metre "bubble" provision for all other alterations and improvements to dwellinghouses that are not extensions?
New site coverage criterion
30. Another key change is replacing the current limitation on floorspace and 30% ground coverage with a new single site coverage limitation. Annex C provides greater detail in the application of this approach. In summary, for an extension or outbuilding to be PD, the footprint of the resulting development (including any previous development) cannot be bigger than the area of undeveloped garden.
31. This approach has been chosen since in most instances a visual check will be sufficient to determine whether the limitation has been complied with. Therefore, measurements of floorspace or site area will not usually be necessary.
32. It does mean that the absolute maximum site coverage of a rear or front garden is 50%. This could represent a significant increase on the current 24 square metres allowed in the 1992 Order. However, most applications do not seek to cover such a large area and it is anticipated this limit will rarely be reached. If on the occasions a householder can address the cost, design issues and comply with the other limitations, the risk of a single storey building covering up to 50% of the curtilage causing harm to public or private amenity is considered an acceptable one.
Q6. Do you agree with the proposed new site coverage criterion? Do you consider it will be clear to householders?
Height and external dimensions
33. The 1992 Order defines the height of a building to be measured from ground level. Where the ground level is uneven (e.g. on a sloping site) it should be measured from the highest point. This has resulted in some unfortunate impacts on sloping ground where a considerable amount of underbuilding can be permitted development.
34. As the proposed Order relaxes other controls, it is considered necessary to change the way in which height is measured to limit the scale of certain developments. The amendment changes the height measurement from the highest point to the lowest point.
35. In addition, since plans submitted for planning applications tend to be scale 1:50 or 1:100 or smaller, it is considered, for practical purposes, that all measurements should relate to external dimensions.
36. These changes would only apply to householder permitted development until consultation has been undertaken relating to non-householder permitted development.
Q7. Do you agree with the proposed changes to the measurement of height and the use of external dimensions?
37. It is proposed that the only specific areas where restrictions on permitted development will apply should be conservation areas and within the curtilage of list buildings. As there is a statutory duty to preserve or enhance the character or appearance of a conservation area, and listed buildings, it is considered that controls are justified in the public interest to prevent the cumulative impact of a number of small scale changes to the external appearance of houses.
38. Currently, unless an Article 4 direction is in place, some types of alteration or improvement to a dwellinghouse in a conservation area would be permitted development. This could include external cladding, window alterations etc. It is our understanding, that it is common for Article 4 directions to apply to conservation areas and so it is not anticipated that increasing the restrictions in conservation areas in the proposed Order would generate an unacceptable number of planning applications.
39. We propose that existing Article 4 directions should cease to have effect, subject to transitional arrangements. The need to make new directions should lead to a review of existing Article 4 directions, many of which were made sometime ago.
Q8. Do you agree that the removal of permitted development rights should only apply to conservation areas and the curtilage of listed buildings?
Q9. Is it resource efficient to review and replace existing householder Article 4 directions? If not, why not? If Article 4 directions do cease to have effect what process should there be for the application for and issuing of new directions?