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Planning (Scotland) Act 2019

Section 32: Duration of planning permission and planning permission in principle

169.Section 32 of the Act amends section 58 (duration of planning permission) and section 59 (planning permission in principle) of the 1997 Act and makes related amendments to section 41 (conditional grant of planning permission) and section 60 (provisions supplementary to sections 58 and 59) of the 1997 Act.

170.Section 58 of the 1997 Act currently specifies that, except in the cases set out in section 58(4), planning permission will lapse after a period of 3 years from the date planning permission is granted, unless the development to which the permission relates has been started before then. It allows the authority when determining the application to direct that a different period, longer or shorter than three years, applies. This section and the amendments to it also apply to where planning permission is deemed to be granted under section 57 of the 1997 Act, which applies where government authorisation is given for certain projects.

171.Section 59 of the 1997 Act specifies what constitutes planning permission in principle: broadly speaking, planning permission granted in accordance with regulations or a development order for various operations and subject to a condition that certain matters have to be approved by the planning authority before the work begins. Like section 58 of the 1997 Act, it specifies a period within which development must be started or the permission lapses. In addition, section 59 specifies a time frame for applying for approval of matters specified in conditions (AMSC).

172.This time frame for applying for AMSC sets out a default period of three years from the grant of planning permission in principle. Where it would result in the calculation of a later deadline, six months is allowed for making such an application as calculated from the date of a previous application being refused, or from the date of an appeal against such refusal itself being dismissed. Only one such application can, however, be made after the three year period. Development must be begun within two years of the date that the last required approval is granted, or else the permission lapses.

173.Section 59(5) of the 1997 Act allows directions to be made specifying, instead of both the three year period and the two year period, different periods for different phases of the development.

174.Section 32(3) of the Act amends section 58 of the 1997 Act so that the duration of planning permission is to be specified as a condition to which the planning permission is subject. In the event that the planning authority does not include such a condition, the legislation provides that such a condition is deemed to have been included. This also applies where government authorisation is given for certain projects and the authorisation is to be treated as the grant of planning permission. As is the case presently, the default duration will be three years, but the planning authority or the Scottish Ministers, when determining a planning application, can specify a longer or shorter duration in their condition. The amendments also remove the exemption for planning permission granted for a limited time (subsection (4)(c) of section 58), which exemption prevents certain planning permissions from lapsing if development has not begun within the specified period.

175.Currently, if it is not challenged on local review or appeal at the time permission is granted, there is no mechanism for changing the duration of planning permission. Section 42 (determination of applications to develop land without compliance with conditions previously attached) of the 1997 Act allows an application to be made for a new permission for the same development but with different conditions – with a lower application fee and limiting the planning authority’s consideration to the issue of conditions – to address, for example, changes in circumstances that mean that the original conditions have unintended consequences. In future, therefore, such a ‘section 42’ application could be used to apply for a new permission with a different condition as to duration, provided the original permission had not already expired.

176.Section 32(4) of the Act amends section 59 of the 1997 Act to simplify arrangements for the duration of planning permission in principle. As with the amendment to section 58 of the 1997 Act, the total period within which development must be started will be specified as a condition. In this case the default period will be five years from the grant of planning permission in principle unless the planning authority specify a different duration; this reflects the need to apply for and obtain approval of matters specified in conditions (the detail of the proposal) before development can be started.

177.The changes made by section 32(4) of the Act also remove the default framework for applying for approval of matters specified in conditions attached to planning permission in principle that is described in paragraph 123 above. Instead, section 32(2) of the Act amends section 41 of the 1997 Act to make it clear that it will be possible for the planning authority to add conditions about the timing of applications for approval of such matters, and to set different timings for different phases of development.

178.Section 32(5) of the Act amends section 60 of the 1997 Act to add a provision making clear that conditions on duration that are imposed, or deemed to be imposed, under sections 58 or 59 can, like other conditions, be appealed to the Scottish Ministers or be subject to a review by the planning authority.

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Text created by the Scottish Government to explain what the Act sets out to achieve and to make the Act accessible to readers who are not legally qualified. Explanatory Notes were introduced in 1999 and accompany all Acts of the Scottish Parliament except those which result from Budget Bills.

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