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Planning and Building Standards

What comments can I make?

Comments on planning applications that we have to take into account before granting permission are called 'material planning considerations'. However, not every comment made will be classed as a material consideration.

The planning legislation* states that a planning authority's decision on a planning application is to be made in accordance with the development plan unless material considerations indicate otherwise.

There is often debate about what constitutes a material consideration, the weight that should be attached to them and whether they are sufficient to outweigh the development plan.

There are two main tests in deciding whether something is material and relevant:

  • It should be related to land-use planning i.e. the development and use of land.
  • It should fairly and reasonably relate to the application under consideration.

There is not a list of what is or isn't a material consideration, but the following would include some matters that are generally held to be material to the consideration of a planning application:

  • Scottish Government policy, advice and circulars.
  • Local authority supplementary guidance.
  • The views of statutory and other consultees.
  • Design and layout of the development.
  • Height and scale of the buildings.
  • Overshadowing.
  • Overlooking.
  • Nuisance caused by noise, smell, fumes, glare from floodlights.
  • Traffic impact.
  • Flooding impact.
  • Impact on conservation areas, listed buildings and archaeology.
  • Impact on wildlife, particularly on protected designations or species.
  • Loss of open space or recreational land.
  • Adequacy of infrastructure e.g. sewerage, drainage, water.
  • Impact on the amenity or character of the area.

Issues which are not material planning considerations include the following:

  • The loss of a private view over neighbouring property.
  • Loss of property value.
  • Breaches of property 'feu' restriction.
  • The applicant's lack of ownership of the site.
  • Boundary and access disputes.
  • Competition among shops/businesses.
  • Moral or religious considerations e.g. objections to betting shops or working on Sundays.
  • Political or ideological dislikes e.g. objections to private hospitals.
  • The health effects of telecommunications equipment.
  • Matters covered under other legislation e.g. building standards.

Note that the above is intended as an indication of what might or might not be a material consideration. Every case has to be assessed on its individual merits. It is for the decision maker to determine what is material to a case and the weight to be attached to it.

*Section 25 of The Town and Country Planning (Scotland) Act 1997, as amended by the Planning etc (Scotland) Act 2006.

The Scottish Government has some guidance on defining a material consideration in Annex A of the following document:

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