Modernising Planning

Modernising the planning system:

The Planning etc (Scotland) Act 2006 brought about a radical change to the planning system which aims to deliver a modern system that is:

  • Efficient: up to date Development Plans are to be at the heart of an efficient system that provides certainty for users and local people;
  • Inclusive: local people will be more involved in the decisions that shape the development of their communities;
  • Fit for Purpose: with a clear sense of priorities and to address different issues in different ways;
  • Sustainable: development should contribute to sustainable economic growth. Planning will deliver sustainable development, by ensuring development is in the right place and of the right quality. 

New System for Development Management

Recent reforms to planning legislation created a new hierarchy of developments. The Town and Country Planning (Hierarchy of Developments) (Scotland) Regulations 2009, created a classification for all developments across Scotland. The three categories in the hierarchy of developments to which all developments will be allocated are:

The top tier of developments is national developments and these are contained in the National Planning Framework published by the Scottish Ministers in June 2009. The National Planning Framework may be viewed at

Whether a development is a major or local is determined by whether the development falls above or below certain thresholds, of which there are 9. Where a development meets or exceeds the following thresholds the development will be classed as a major development.

  1. All development under Schedule 1 to the Environmental Impact Assessment (Scotland) Regulations 1999.
  2. Housing where the development comprises 50 or more dwellings or the area of the site is or exceeds 2 hectares.
  3. Business of general industrial, storage and distribution with a gross floor space of 10,000 sq.m., or the area of the site is or exceeds 2 hectares.
  4. Electricity Generation where the generating capacity is or exceeds 20 megawatts.
  5. Waste Management Facilities where the capacity of the facility is or exceeds 25,000 tonnes per annum or for sludge treatment facilities where the capacity to treat more than 50 tonnes (wet weight) per day of residual sludge.
  6. Transport and Infrastructure projects where the length of road, railway, tramway, waterway, aqueduct or pipeline exceeds 8 kilometres.
  7. Fish farming where the surface area of water covered is or exceeds 2 hectares.
  8. Mineral extraction where the site area is or exceeds 2 hectares.
  9. Other development not falling wholly within one of the above classes where the gross floor space is or exceeds 5,000 sq. m. or the area of the site is or exceeds 2 hectares.

Permitted Development

In February of 2012, The Scottish Government extended Permitted Development rights as affecting some small householder developments

Further Information

Further information on the planning system in Scotland can be obtained from the Scottish Government. An easy to read guide to the Scottish Planning System is available to read.

If you are considering employing a Chartered Architect or Chartered Architectural Technologist, you may find the following links useful. The RIAS is the professional body for all Chartered Architects in Scotland, similarly the CIAT is the only qualifying body for Architecture Technology and represents over 700 Chartered Architectural Technologists and Architectural Technicians in Scotland.