Approval given to proceed with proposal to designate Edinburgh as Short-term Let Control Area

On Wednesday at Planning Committee, proposals were approved to designate the City of Edinburgh Council area as a short-term let (STL) control area.

The proposal follows a consultation with the public as well as industry bodies. 

The majority of respondents to the consultation were in favour of a control area, with 88% supporting the principle of it, and 85% supporting the entire City of Edinburgh Council area to be included.

A report of the consultation forms part of our Report to Planning Committee. 

The designation cannot come to effect without the approval of Scottish Government. A request will be submitted to the Scottish Government requesting that the new powers are implemented in the whole of the Edinburgh area.

If the government agree with this approach, and the new legislation is implemented in the city, it will require residential property owners wholly letting a property which is not their principle home as an STL in the local authority area, to apply for planning permission for a ‘change of use’ to a short-term let.

Short-term lets of private rooms or shared rooms where the property is the only or principal home of the host will not be affected by the control area requirement. This allows for house swaps at holidays and also for the host to let out the entire property when on holiday or working away, provided the property remains their only or principal home.

If approval is given by the Scottish Government, the designation will be publicised in advance of coming into effect. 

The introduction of powers to make a control area follows the Council calling for new legislation to tighten up the control of short-term lets to help manage high concentrations of secondary letting where it affects the availability of residential housing and character of a neighbourhood.

Also, it will help to restrict or prevent short-term lets in places or types of buildings where they are not appropriate as well as making sure homes are used to best effect.

Complementary to the control area legislation, the Scottish Parliament has approved legislation which will introduce a new licensing scheme requiring short-term lets to be licensed from July 2024.  It will address the issues of safety, anti-social behaviour and noise.

To keep up to date with the Short-term Lets Control Area;

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We’re Hiring!

We’re recruiting five Assistant Planners to work with us in the Edinburgh planning service.

Edinburgh is Scotland’s busiest planning authority, handling over 3,000 applications a year in a city with internationally-valued built and natural heritage. We have ambitious plans to realise Edinburgh’s vision of a fair, welcoming, pioneering and thriving city.

So, if you’re looking for an opportunity to get involved in a range of planning projects and processes, develop your knowledge and skills, and of course, work with a great bunch of people, then you can apply here. The closing date is 24 February 2022.

As an Assistant Planning Officer, you will be responsible for handling a varied and challenging range and volume of planning and enforcement cases and for contributing to projects and change within the service.

As part of our agile, multidisciplinary workforce you will gain skills enabling you to work in different teams and operational areas in the Planning service. The advertised posts are based in our fast-paced, high-volume teams dealing with:

  • Householder developments
  • Enforcement
  • Smaller-scale local developments and listed buildings.

In this short video some of the team share what it’s like to work here:

In an earlier post from 2019, one of our previous assistant planners blogged about their experience of the job and how it helped them to achieve chartered membership of the Royal Town Planning Institute.

Housing Land Audit and Completions Programme 2021

Map showing land supply in terms of effective and constrained sites.

Our annual Housing Land Audit and Completions Programme (HLACP) 2021 is now available to view in full on our website or as a layer on the Council Atlas.

The Programme is used to assess the supply of land for housing and the delivery of new homes within the City of Edinburgh Council area. It records the amount of land available for house building, identifies any constraints affecting development, and assesses the land supply in the area.

Sites included in the HLACP are housing sites under construction, sites with planning consent, sites in adopted or finalised Local Plans and, as appropriate, other buildings and land with agreed potential for housing development. The audit does not include new proposals from the proposed City Plan 2030.

As predicted last year, the Covid-19 pandemic and the national lockdown during the second quarter of 2020 has resulted in the number of completions over the year to April 2021 being lower than recent years. Housebuilding activity is now back to the pre-pandemic level with expected completions over the next five years averaging 2,600 per year.

To view the data as a layer on the CEC Atlas, click ‘Planning’ and choose Housing Land Audit Schedules & Completions

The Programme demonstrates that there is more than enough unconstrained housing land to meet the remaining housing land requirement in full and that the five-year completions programme is above target.

This short video below gives an overview of the Programme:

For a housing site to be considered ‘effective’, it must be free of all constraints that would prevent development. Sites are considered against a range of criteria set out in Planning Advice Note 2/2010 “Affordable Housing and Housing Land Audits”. These include ownership, physical (e.g. slope, aspect, stability, flood risk, access), contamination, deficit funding, marketability, infrastructure and land use.

As at 31 March 2021, there was enough land free of planning constraints and available for development for 22,411 houses.

New Housing at Broomhills, Edinburgh

The effective land supply is varied in type, size and location. It is spread over a range of locations and includes brownfield (54%) and greenfield (46%) sites as shown on the above map.

The next annual Housing Land Audit and Completions Programme will be carried out in Spring 2022 and reported to Planning Committee in Autumn 2022.

Keep up to date with Planning in Edinburgh by:

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An Update on the Charters

Happy New Year to everyone!

We recently published an updated Planning Enforcement Charter which explains the Council’s approach to investigating potential breaches of planning control. The enforcement charter is updated every two years and was recently reviewed by Committee in early December to outline the key changes.

The Charter provides useful information on what a breach of planning control is, how to report potential breaches to the Council, how we will carry out investigations, and what the possible outcomes of an investigation might be. The Charter also explains that the purpose of planning enforcement is to try and resolve breaches and mitigate any harm being caused, however, if a breach cannot be resolved through negotiation the Council may take formal action and in the most serious cases this can lead to fines or prosecution. The enforcement investigation process is summarised in the flowchart below.

Members of the public have an important role in bringing potential breaches to our attention and this is reflected in the high number of enquiries we receive each year. When reporting a potential breach it is important to provide as much information as possible. This can include copies of any relevant photographs and should include a description of how you are affected by the breach – your identity will not be disclosed during the course an investigation.

As explained in the Charter, it may not be proportionate or necessary to pursue minor breaches where there are no unacceptable impacts, and enquiries which involve listed buildings and conservation areas, short term lets, protected trees and serious harm to residential amenity will be a priority for the enforcement team.

We hope you find the Charter useful and informative. Further information on how to report a potential breach is available on the Council website and you can view enforcement enquiry records via the planning portal.

To visit our planning and building standards charters, please click here.

End of year Planning Edinburgh blog

As we approach the end of 2021, we’ve reflected on what has been another eventful year for planning in Edinburgh.

As a service we were as busy as ever with large numbers of planning applications coming through the virtual door and significant planning projects continuing apace.

Earlier in the year we had some staff retire, and with recruitment underway we’re looking forward to welcoming new team members. We’re also delighted that David Givan has now been appointed as the Chief Planning Officer here at the Council.

Key projects have made significant progress with the proposed City Plan 2030 approved in September. The period of representation has now concluded as we move to the next stage in the process.

Consultation has been another key theme, not just on City Plan 2030, but also the low emission zone, short term lets control areas, and the proposed extension to Leith conservation area.

Major applications such as the Impact Centre concert hall, the New Town Quarter, Edinburgh Park South, developments at the waterfront and various housing sites across the city have all been approved.

It’s heartening to see new development on the ground, in what has been another challenging year for the industry, with new buildings being recognised through local award schemes.  The opening of the new St. James Quarter and commencement of work at Haymarket is testament to years of effort by the service, our partners and the communities who engaged in the various stages of planning.

Day-to-day our householders, locals and listed buildings teams have kept the smaller, but often no less complex developments moving, helping to support local businesses and the construction sector. With people often choosing to adapt their home rather than move, we’ve seen a lot of activity in that area.

Change and development can on occasion have some unintended consequences and the planning enforcement team have been following up on cases including any unauthorised planning uses.

Applications for work to trees has also been busy, and with a new member of staff joining the team we’ve been working through these applications whilst making improvements to the submission process.

COP26 brought into sharp focus the issue of climate change, and our work on important projects such as Edinburgh’s Water Vision and City Mobility Plan continue to see us embed sustainability at the heart of our policies. We helped to bring to life the SpACE pop up exhibition and got involved in the programme of talks.  Changes to permitted development rights for cycle storage have also been introduced as another way to encourage active travel.

Our heritage, landscaping and transport teams have been supporting the planning applications process and contributing to the preparation of City Plan and policies. Our Street Naming team continue to name new streets and are always looking for suggested names, so get in touch if you have any.

Service improvements are ongoing and have been informed by the customer forums we held this year.  Our pre-application service, non-material variations, online payments and requirements for contextual information are all in place. You can expect to see more improvements in 2022.

And finally, it’s a thanks from us to everyone who uses and interacts with the service for their patience and support as we do our jobs in these unusual times.

Have a great Christmas, and New Year when it comes.