As part of their wider programme of planning reform, the Scottish Government has opened Phase 2 of their consultation into new or extended Permitted Development Rights (PDR), which allow specified development without the need for planning permission.

Phase 2 of the PDR review deals with:

  • Electric vehicle charging infrastructure;
  • Change of use in town centres; and
  • Port development.

Electric vehicle charging infrastructure

Reviewing PDR in relation to charging infrastructure, or charging points, is driven by the push to reach net zero and the recognition that uptake of electric vehicles (EV) will remain stunted by a lack of charging points. This is an issue close to the heart of the 2 members of our planning team who drive EVs.

The Scottish Government expect an increase in EV between 500,000 and 1 million by 2030, but at present there are only around 2100 charging points in Scotland. An estimated additional 30,000 charging points will be required to meet demand. PDR will help that roll-out but there are other problems to resolve such as land rights for cabling.

The consultation seeks views on extending or amending PDR to allow for greater use of wall-mounted or upstand charging points in off-street parking areas, as well as seeking views on whether extended PDR would be helpful in creating increased kerbside charging capacity, bearing in mind the involvement of both local government and the private sector in provision of this. Views are also sought on extending PDR to existing petrol stations to allow for the installation of electric vehicle charging points.

The changes proposed are welcome, such as amending PDR to allow wall-mounted points to be installed within National Parks. Indeed, such a restriction seems counter-productive when some of Scotland's national parks include larger towns and the Scottish Government has committed to the creation of an additional national park within this Parliament.

Town centre change of use category

The consultation's proposals in relation to change of use in town centres are mainly focussed on the possibility of a combined use class for town centres, which would incorporate Classes 1 (shops), 2 (financial and professional services), and 3 (food and drink) into a single class to allow for easier change of use in town centres.

Possible uses from other classes, such as art galleries from Class 10 and gyms from Class 11 could also be included.

The rationale of this is that it would allow for quicker adaptation of town centre units to changing business and customer needs, and this in turn would aid town centre regeneration.

We have seen this already with the use class reforms in England and the introduction of Class E which gives landowners in town centres considerably more freedom to adapt their land to changing circumstances.

My planning team colleagues will comment in more detail in future blogs.

Port development

The consideration of the PDR of port operators and their fitness for purpose did not form part of the Scottish Government's original programme, but was instead added in response to the UK and Scottish Government's objectives for "Green Freeports".

The consultation proposes to amend port PDR in Scotland to reflect those in England, although the Scottish Government does note that it is not convinced of the need for this amendment, and that this would affect all ports, not just Green Freeports. Views are therefore sought on the "practical effects of aligning port and airport", and any other changes that port operators might benefit from. It would appear that there is not a huge weight of policy underpinning the Scottish Government's approach in respect of these PDR, so contributions from industry may prove to hold great weight.

The consultation will run until 3 August 2022 and submissions can be made here.

If you would like to discuss with a member of Brodies' Planning team, please do not hesitate to get in touch.


Jack Barratt

Trainee Solicitor