Planning/urbanisation/building consent

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1.    Explain briefly what official permissions are needed in relation to buildings, and what authority grants them. Is permission needed for:

•    The erection of a building
Yes. Planning permission must be secured before building is started as the planning authority (one of Scotland’s 32 local authorities and 2 national park authorities who have responsibility for delivering the strategic development plans for the area they oversee) will need to be satisfied that any plans are in line with the Council’s Development Plan(s) and that the home’s design will be acceptable in terms of its impact on the surrounding homes and landscape. In addition to planning permission, a building warrant must also be applied for before building work can be started. While planning permission largely focusses on how the external structure of a home will look, a building warrant can only be obtained when the design of the home (both inside and outside) is shown to meet all necessary requirement of the latest domestic building regulation.

•    The alteration of a building
Planning permission and building warrants are required when a person a) builds something new, b) makes a major change, or c) changes the use of a building. If planning permission is required but has not been applied for an enforcement notice can be served ordering the reversal of any changes made.

•    The detailed design of a building
Yes. A building warrant as detailed above.

•    The materials and method of construction
Yes. A building warrant as detailed above.

•    The demolition of a building
In most cases it is not required to apply for planning permission to demolish a building, unless the local council has made an article 4 direction (an additional control used within conservation areas, the effect of which being that planning permission is required for usually permitted developments) restricting the permitted development rights that apply to demolition. Demolition falls under the Building Act 1984 and generally requires six weeks prior notice to be given to the Local Authority Building Control before demolition begins. Demolitions must also comply with the Construction (Design and Maintenance) Regulations 2015 and a health and safety plan produced by the principal contractor.

Please note that matters concerning the use of buildings and planning permission are not the concern of RoS. Decisions in relation to planning are dealt with by the planning authority for the appropriate local council.

2.    Are buildings of a certain age exempt from any of these requirements?


3.    Is official permission needed for the use to which land or buildings are put?

Yes. Planning permission/building warrants are required to change the use of buildings.

4.    How does one discover whether the necessary permissions exist? Is it recorded in the land register, cadastre or some other register?

Information regarding planning applications and decisions is held by the council for the local area.

5.    Are additional permissions needed in particular geographical areas? How does one discover whether a property is in such an area? Is it recorded in the land register, cadastre or some other register?

Conservation areas are areas of special architectural or historic interest, the character or appearance of which it is considered desirable to preserve or enhance. There are over 600 conservation areas in Scotland covering historic land, public parks and groups of buildings extending over areas of a village, town or city. The local planning authority is responsible for determining which parts of its area are of special architectural or historic interest and it is the local planning authority who should be contacted to gain information about whether a property falls within a conservation area or not.

The designation of an area as a conservation area does not place a ban upon all new development within its boundaries. However, new developments will normally only be granted planning permission if it can be demonstrated that they will not harm the character or appearance of the area.

Most works to the outside of a building or structure in a conservation area will require planning permission. Planning permission is not required when carrying out works to the interior of a building which do not affect the external appearance, not for straightforward repair work.

As trees often contribute significantly to the character of conservation areas it is an offence for any person to cut, lop, top, uproot, wilfully damage or destroy any tree in a conservation area unless six weeks’ notice has been given to the planning authority. This gives the planning authority time to consider making a Tree Preservation Order. These orders exist for individual or groups of trees which are seen as giving amenity value to the community.

The felling or lopping of trees which are subject to a Tree Preservation Order requires the consent of the planning authority. Information about whether or not a property is affected by a Tree Preservation Order can be obtained from the relevant local authority.

6.    Are there additional requirements for permission to alter or demolish certain buildings because of their age or architectural or historic value? How does one discover that such additional requirements exist? Is it recorded in the land register, cadastre or some other register?

Some buildings within conservation area may be ‘listed’ for their special architectural of historic interest. Listed buildings require listed building consent for any works that are considered to alter the character of the building or structure. Listed building protection covers both the interior and exterior of a building and it is prudent to check with the planning authority before undertaking anything beyond minor repair work.

The demolition of an unlisted building within a conservation area requires conservation area consent. The application for consent should include the reason for demolition and detailed plans of existing and replacement buildings (if proposed). For listed buildings, listed building consent is required for all demolition work.

As important archeological remains are often found within conservation areas, arrangements for the protection or recording, as appropriate, of any archeological deposits or features may be a condition of planning permission, listed building consent or conservation area consent.

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