Scottish Government
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Easier home improvements

New rules to make it easier for people to make changes to their homes will come into force in February next year.

Within certain constraints, the rules will allow a range of works - 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.

Following a consultation earlier this year, Planning Minister Aileen Campbell has now laid regulations in Parliament confirming the changes.

Currently, planning fees for householder development are 160 pounds. Just over 40 per cent of all applications are for planning permission on existing homes and these changes aim to remove around a fifth of those, around 4,000 a year, from the planning system.

Planning Minister Aileen Campbell said:

"We are removing, in certain cases, the need for householders to get planning permission. That frees people up to go ahead and make improvements to their homes and saves them money, while creating jobs for building companies and tradespeople, continuing our efforts to make planning an aid to increasing sustainable economic growth. It will also enable planning authorities to focus their attention on processing applications for larger developments.

"These changes, introduced following thorough consultation, strike the right balance between cutting red tape to help householders and safeguarding the amenity of an area. They also complement the work we have already undertaken to make it easier for householders to install small scale renewables technologies."

David Suttie, Convenor of the Royal Town Planning Institute Scotland said:

"RTPI Scotland welcomes these regulations. They are key part of the drive to modernise the planning system and should allow planning authorities to focus their work and resources on those areas of work which will have most impact in delivering sustainable development, economic growth and great places for people. In turn this 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 has worked closely with the Scottish Government in the preparation of these new regulations. They strike a balance between the need to protect the privacy of neighbours and the appearance of Scotland's housing stock, 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:

"FMB Scotland builders welcomed the chance to be consulted on these important changes and their potential benefits are clear to see. 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."

The householder permitted development consultation ran from October 2010 to January 2011 and the Scottish Government held eight workshops in November 2010 with a range of interested bodies.

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