Changes to pre-application consultation with local communities

View of Princes Street from the Castle looking North on a sunny day.

Changes are coming to the way pre-application consultation with local communities takes place.

All applications for national or major development must comply with the Pre-Application Consultation (PAC) process. Where pre-application consultation is required, applicants must submit a Proposal of Application Notice (PAN) at least 12 weeks prior to the submission of the planning application.

Previously, a minimum of one event was required to take place, however for notices submitted after 1 October, there will now need to be two events, in accordance with The Town and Country Planning (Pre-Application Consultation) (Scotland) Amendment Regulations 2021 .

At the second event the application will provide feedback on comments received regarding the proposed development. Both of these exhibition/events must be press advertised.

The changes also introduce a time limit of 18 months within which an application must be submitted.

Notices submitted prior to 1 October will not be required to hold two events but will be subject to the 18 month time limit, starting from 1 October. 

Since the first outbreak of Covid in March 2020, all events have been taking place online. For notices received after 1 October, all events must now be in person. It is still good practice however to provide online information for those not able to attend in person.

The Edinburgh Development Concordat promotes collaborative working between the developer, community councils and the Council. It is recommended that an engagement strategy is prepared which sets out how community feedback will be sought. This could include the use of:

  • Public meetings
  • Meetings with community councils
  • Exhibitions with developer staff on hand to answer questions
  • Social media to promote events
  • Bespoke websites for the development
  • Surveys – both online and in person
  • Posters in local libraries and other public places
  • Leaflets distributed to properties in the local area

Consultation should be a meaningful engagement with the community and should offer the opportunity to mitigate negative impacts and misunderstandings and deal with community issues that can be addressed.

“A Day in the Life…” by Jay Skinner – Planning Officer

Having joined the Planning Service just over two months ago as a Planning Officer I can vouch for the benefits of ‘learning on the job’ by working in a fast-paced service. The first few weeks have been an extremely interesting experience, and one which I am grateful to have the opportunity to reflect on as part of this blog post.

The variety in development proposals mirrored by the planning applications assigned as part of a diverse case load fills the days. A typical day can include arranging and hosting meetings, attending site meetings and visits, preparing reports as part of the planning assessment process, and working collaboratively with colleagues internally and engaging with external consultees to progress proposals. In my role there is an emphasis on taking ownership of your workload, which encourages continued professional development.

The nature of Edinburgh as a city both physically and geographically presents a unique working environment as a Planner. This is reflected by its wealth of historic assets such as world heritage sites, conservation areas, a high concentration of listed buildings as well as an impressive number of green spaces and multiple walking, cycling and sustainable transport links. These factors present a great opportunity as a Planner to work on a range of projects which bring their own unique considerations and opportunities.

Given the multitude of site constraints and specific considerations for proposals, working within the planning service allows for a high degree of collaboration with specialists, including engagement with external bodies such as Historic Environment Scotland on matters related to the historic environment for example. Working with colleagues who have expert knowledge of areas such as listed buildings, biodiversity, the natural environment, sustainability, active travel, transport planning and many other areas presents a platform to further develop your own knowledge.

Having the opportunity to continue to develop my skill set as a planner has been a positive experience since joining the Council’s Planning Service. By being able to contribute to the general mentoring scheme within the service it has helped to support colleagues as they progress their own careers.

The range of Continuing Professional Development (CPD) sessions and opportunities on offer is another advantage of working within a multi skilled Planning Service. Specialist training workshops are a regular feature and help us to assess proposals and allow team members to further develop their skills and confidence.

The emerging City Plan 2030 also presents an opportunity to implement policies which will shape the future development of the city, building on the key aims of the current Edinburgh Local Development Plan. The focus within City Plan 2030 on promoting a network of 20-minute walkable neighbourhoods, the requirement for new buildings to be net-zero amongst other aims, promotes work on key planning issues, taking account of evolving changes within the built environment.

The above examples provide a snapshot of the numerous opportunities there are working within the Planning Service. As I continue in my role, I look forward to dealing with a variety of exciting projects which draw on my current skills and allow for future growth and development as part of a progressive Planning Service.

Changes to Edinburgh’s Planning Fees

Looking across Edinburgh on a sunny day. Edinburgh Castle is in the foreground with Princes Street Gardens, Princes Street and the New Town running left to right beyond.

Following the national fee changes in April 2022, there are two further important changes to planning fees specific to Edinburgh.

To reflect these changes, we have created a Planning Fees Charter which is now available on our website.

  • From 1 October 2022 retrospective planning applications will be subject to a 25% surcharge
  • Reduced fees: some fees for not for profit or social enterprises can now receive a 25% discount

Below is a summary of the changes:

Retrospective Applications

A retrospective application is an application for planning permission for a development which has already commenced or has been completed without planning permission.

Retrospective applications often result from Enforcement enquiries but can also be the result of other factors. A surcharge on retrospective applications is being introduced to provide a means of recovering some of the costs of carrying out enforcement investigations.

From 1 October 2022, Edinburgh Council will be imposing the maximum 25% surcharge allowed by the regulations.

As an example, an average householder application for a summerhouse in retrospect, would mean the normal application fee of £300 plus a further 25% (£75).

If you are submitting a retrospective application, it is important that you highlight this at the time of submission.

The surcharge will not be calculated when an application is submitted on e-planning.scot. This is because e-planning is a national service which does not consider individual charges by local authorities. This will mean that the extra fee will be requested when your application is registered. If the required surcharge is not paid, your application will not be progressed to determination.

Reduced Fees

Starting immediately, Edinburgh Council will reduce the fee by 25% for applications which relates to development which

  • has the primary purpose of contributing to a not for profit or social enterprise
  • relates to development which is likely to contribute to improving the health of residents in the area to which the application relates.

Applications must meet both the above criteria to be considered for an exemption.

The amount levied will depend on the type of application. For example, a £300 fee would be reduced to £225.

The full statutory fee should be paid when the application is submitted. The Council will make a decision on receipt of an application as to whether a 25% reduction is applicable and will refund the applicant accordingly.

Prospective applicants should make clear in their supporting information if they are seeking a reduction in the application fee.

Clear justification should be given for why the applicant believes that a reduction in the fee is applicable.

For full details, see our revised Planning Fees Charter.

UPDATE: Planning and Building Standards systems upgrade

The Planning and Building Standards Portal mapping function is now live again following last weeks upgrade. Search by map for planning applications, appeals & enforcement notices, and for building warrants.

You can keep up to date by following us on Twitter @planningedin or subscribing to the Planning Blog.

UPDATE: Planning and Building Standards systems upgrade 8-12 August

The upgrade of the Planning and Building Standards Portal is complete and it is now back online. However, there is a problem with the mapping functionality and this is being worked on as a matter of priority. Customers will still be able to comment, search, view and track applications via the Portal. We apologise for any inconvenience.