Scottish Government
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Planning rules eased for home improvements

New rules come in to force today to make it easier for people to make changes to their homes.

The rules allow a range of works within certain constraints – including extensions, access ramps, sheds, garages and decking – to be built without applying for planning permission. Certain restrictions will still apply for conservation areas and listed buildings.

The regulations were laid in Parliament last October following a consultation, and will affect projects which go on site from today.

Until now, householders paid £160 in planning fees for developments. Just over 40 per cent of all applications are for planning permission on existing homes and these changes aim to remove up to a fifth of those, around 4,000 a year, from the planning system.

Planning Minister Derek Mackay said:

“These changes allow people to improve their homes more easily and save them money, while creating jobs for building companies and trades people.

“Planning has an important role to play in increasing sustainable economic growth, and these changes, removing in certain cases the need for householders to get planning permission, are a good example of this. They will also enable planning authorities to focus their attention on processing applications for larger developments.

“We consulted extensively before introducing these changes and I am confident they strike the right balance between cutting red tape to help householders and protecting privacy and the appearance of Scotland’s buildings. They also complement the work we have already undertaken to make it easier for householders to install small scale renewables technologies.”

Bob Reid, Convenor of the Royal Town Planning Institute Scotland said: “RTPI Scotland welcomes the new permitted development rights. These new rules will make it easier for people to make changes to their homes, with the right safeguards for neighbours and for conservation areas and listed buildings.  This should allow planning authorities to focus their attention on more complex developments often with larger impact, which, in turn should help to further improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the planning system."

Chris Norman, Chairman of the Heads of Planning Scotland Development Management Sub Committee said: “Heads of Planning Scotland and the Scottish Government have worked closely together to prepare these new regulations. They strike a balance between the need to protect the appearance of Scotland's housing stock and the privacy of neighbours, while giving greater opportunity for householders to carry out small scale works to their home without the need for planning permission."

Grahame Barn, Director of the Federation of Master Builders (FMB) in Scotland commented:

"The potential benefits of these changes are clear to see and FMB Scotland builders welcomed the chance to be consulted on them. Small and medium sized building firms such as the FMB’s members carry out the majority of domestic renovation and improvement jobs in Scotland so this legislation should help to make life a little easier for businesses that have been hard-pressed by the downturn. They should entail a streamlined planning process for small building companies and their domestic clients alike, leaving local authority planners throughout Scotland free to focus their energies on more complex developments. The ideal result will be improved business conditions for SME builders as the private sector market for home improvements like extensions and low carbon improvements regains its strength.”

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