• GL
Choose your location?
  • Global Global
  • Australia
  • France
  • Germany
  • Ireland
  • Italy
  • Poland
  • Qatar
  • Spain
  • UAE
  • UK

New permitted development rights to revitalise Scottish town centres

03 April 2023

Changes to the Scottish planning system, effective from Friday 31 March 2023, will facilitate the regeneration of Scottish town centres and help meet climate targets.

The Scottish Government's new rules extend permitted development rights to:

  • changes of uses in centres;
  • rollout electrical vehicle charging infrastructure; and
  • support operational port development.

The changes have the potential to make a positive contribution to meeting Scotland's climate targets through a more streamlined process to encourage more EV adoption, creating flexibility in town centres and to support expansion of renewables industry in ports.

What do these changes mean?

EV Charging

The introduction of the new rules allow EV charging points to be installed, altered or replaced on established hard-surface areas which are primarily used for lawful off-street parking. Previously, EV charging could only be installed on areas "lawfully used for off-street parking".  Additionally, a new class has been introduced to allow solar canopies to be installed for the primary purpose of EV charging. Conditions surrounding size and location of these solar canopies are attached for road safety and visual purposes. The primary purpose of such canopies must be for the recharging of vehicles, but it does not exclude surplus energy to be used for other purposes.

In relation to powers of local authorities, the rules clarify that electric vehicle charging points and associated infrastructure is covered under "development for erection or construction and the maintenance, improvement or other alteration", allowing local authorities to erect and maintain EV charging points.

Town Centres

Change of use

The changes allow greater flexibility to change the use of certain buildings and place furniture outside specified premises. It combines class 1 (shops) and class 2 (financial, professional and other services) into one new class 1A so no planning permission is required to change the use within that new class. A new Class 11A allows greater flexibility for a Class 1A to change use to a class 3 (food and drink). Certain restrictions apply - e.g. if the building is within close proximity to dwelling houses.

Outside furniture

A new class 9L allows placement of furniture on a public road (including pavement) adjacent to class 3 (food and drink) premises, pubs and bars. Furniture is constituted as counters or stalls selling or serving food or drink; tables, counters shelves on which food or drink can be placed; chairs, benches, other forms of seating; umbrellas ramps, barriers, heaters; and decking structures. Current restrictions on obstructing public roads and licencing permissions continue to apply.

Port Developments

In relation to port developments, the new rules extend permissions in regards to development in connection with the provision of services and facilities and require the developer to notify the planning authority before carrying out development under Class 35 (Dock, pier, harbour, water transport, canal or inland navigation undertakings) unless it is of a specified description. These changes apply to all ports in Scotland, not just prospective Green Freeports. The intention behind this is to create a level playing field between English and Scottish ports and to even out attractiveness of sustainable developments by removing obstacles for those not designated as Green Freeports. 

To find out more about the points raised in this article please contact Emma Peveril.

This article was written by Katrina Hall and Emma Peveril.

Further Reading