Scotland still undecided on “Permission in Principle” through Development Plans

Consultation on Future of Scottish Planning System

Note in Scotland “outline consent” has been replaced by “permission in principle” its just the same except that the ‘reserved matters’are left open.

We commissioned research to consider whether planning permission in principle should be attached to allocated sites within the development plan. The research has found that there is ‘conditional support’ for the proposed reform, but that this is ‘complex and nuanced.’ We have reservations about the amount of upfront work that would be needed to achieve this, and the implications arising for all those concerned as well as for development planning procedures. This would also need to be fully in line with and meet all European obligations for environmental assessment.__Whilst we agree that this approach has potential benefits, we are concerned that it may provide limited benefits which do not outweigh the extra time and complexity it would add. We would like to hear people’s views on whether this change would be either necessary or helpful, taking into account the research findings. We believe that a more strategic, zoning approach to housing allocations, such as improving the use of Simplified Planning Zones, could be a simpler way of strengthening the development plan and establishing the need for development at an early stage (see section 3).

What the Scottish Government has got which the English havn;t is that the benefits flow from a continental like ‘strategic zoning approach’ not grafting outline consent with all matters reserved at plan stage.  What the English have got which the Scottish haven’t is that Simplified Planning Zones are a complex, poor and inflexible choice for delivery of the instrument.  All that is needed is a structural plan with main roads and open spaces only which structures zoning districts with fixed quanta of development permitted per zoning district.  What is needed is a simple enabling power to allow development plans to grant such PiP.   Then one needs to make the distinction between what a zoning district is ‘zoned for’and whether subsequently every local road has been defined and land subdivided and building forms determined to state whether in international terms there has been ‘subdivision’consent and then ‘building consent’.

What I dont think both England and Scotland have to fully resolve is:

-What is the proper instrument for ‘strategic zoning'(structural consent”)

-What is the proper instrument for platting (parcel level subdivision)

-What is the proper instrument for building level consent?

Internationally we know the answers to this.  The place specific masterplan shows the form of change for the place and a form based zoning code sets down the rules for subdivision and building form based typologies.  For an excellent example see the new Green Code for Buffalo.

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