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These changes come as part of the latest phase (Phase 2) of the Scottish government’s wider initiative to extend PDR to support their objectives in addressing the global climate crisis and to ensure the sustainability of Scottish businesses and communities.
Phase 1, which came into force on 1 April 2021, dealt with digital telecommunications infrastructure, agricultural developments, peatland restoration, aquaculture and developments relating to active travel. Now, we are at Phase 2, which focuses primarily on electronic vehicle (EV) charging infrastructures and town centre changes of use. Here, we summarise the main changes that will come into force at the end of this month.
With the sale of new petrol and diesel cars coming to an end in the UK by 2030, ownership of EVs is expected to increase over the next few years. With that comes the need for EV charging infrastructure, and extending this area of PDR recognises the role that EVs will play in tackling the climate crisis.
The new Order will remove current restrictions regarding EV charging points in specified areas (article 5(a)(ii)) and will relax other conditions such as the size, location and illumination of nameplates on wall mounted chargers and upstands. It will also relax the current height restrictions in place for upstands, allowing for a height of 2.7m compared to its current 1.6m. Whilst the consultation did highlight some concerns that this may have an adverse visual impact (especially in sensitive locations such as conservation areas), it was recognised that relaxing these restrictions would lead to the faster roll-out of charging infrastructure to support Scotland’s targets relating to climate change.
The PDR will also be extended by introducing a new Class for solar canopies (where the primary purpose of the solar canopy is to aid EV charging) and battery storage and equipment to support these solar canopies. There are some limitations to this, with the new Class having certain size and locational restrictions and only being allowed in ‘qualifying parking areas’ The term ‘qualifying parking areas’ (when it comes to solar canopies) is defined in the Order under Class 9M(5) as “an area which has as its primary use lawful off-street parking and has a hard surface”.
The new Order will also extend PDR allowing for greater flexibility to change the use of buildings and allowing for furniture outside certain premises.
In particular, the previous Class 1 (shops) and Class 2 (financial, professional and other services) will be combined to create a new Class 1A. Permission will no longer be required to change between these two Classes once the new Order comes into force.
A new change of use Class 11A will also be introduced, allowing for a change of use from a Class 1A (shops and financial, professional and other services) to a Class 3 (food and drink). This will only apply to those buildings (or parts of a building) which aren’t directly underneath a dwelling or within 1 metre of a dwelling
A new change of use Class 11B will allow for a change of use from a Class 1A (shops and financial, professional and other services) or Class 3 (food and drink) to a Class 4 (business). This will only apply where the building (or part of the building) does not exceed 300 square metres.
Finally, a new permitted development Class 9L will be introduced, allowing for the placement of furniture outside of Class 3 premises, including pubs and bars. This will of course be subject to the relevant licensing regulations.
The reason for this relaxation of change of use is to promote the “recovery, regeneration and resilience” of Scotland’s economy, following the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and the likely impact that Brexit will have on Scottish businesses and communities in the coming years.
Overall, the extension of PDR in Phase 2 demonstrates a willingness on the part of government to create flexible planning rules to help tackle the climate crisis and restore the economy.
The next phase for extending PDR in Scotland is set to focus on domestic and non-domestic renewable energy equipment in yet another move to utilise the planning system to support the Scottish government’s objectives in meeting their climate targets. The consultation for Phase 3 is due to be published in Spring 2023 but no date has been confirmed as of yet, so watch this space.
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This publication is intended for general guidance and represents our understanding of the relevant law and practice as at March 2023. Specific advice should be sought for specific cases. For more information see our terms & conditions.
27 March 2023