In October 2019, I wrote about proposed changes to Permitted Development Rights (PDR) in Scotland, which were to be the subject of a substantial review by the Scottish Government. It was envisaged that changes to PDR would accord with the Scottish Government's ambition of net zero emissions by 2045, but the full scale of the plans was unknown.


PDR remove the requirement to apply for planning permission, avoiding consent risk and delay.

There is a half-way house for some PDR, where prior notification must be served on the planning authority, who then have the opportunity to decide that limited aspects require their prior approval.

Where are we now?

The Government has since consulted on Phase 1 of the programme to reform PDR (October 2020), and sought views on proposals relating to four development types: digital telecommunications infrastructure, agriculture, peatland restoration and active travel.

On 18 December 2020, the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development and Use Classes) (Scotland) Amendment Order 2020 was laid in the Scottish Parliament to bring the Phase 1 changes into effect on 1 April 2021.

What are the Phase 1 changes?

Digital Telecommunications Infrastructure

The changes for digital communications will see an increase to mast heights and width, in certain circumstances; and an increase to the size and number of antennas permitted on buildings outside designated areas in certain circumstances, with the introduction of PDR for antennas on buildings in designated areas, subject to prior approval.

The changes will also see the introduction of PDR for small cell systems, new equipment housing cabinets and other apparatus to assist with connectivity; and PDR for underground equipment in certain designated areas, with other designated areas subject to prior approval.

Peatland Restoration

It is intended that peatland restoration will assist with the Scottish Government's achievement of climate change targets and, as such, the Phase 1 changes will introduce PDR for peatland restoration projects, subject to prior approval of a peatland restoration scheme by the planning authority.

Active Travel

In an effort to improve access to more environmentally friendly means of transport, and assist with the achievement of carbon reduction targets, Phase 1 will see changes to bicycle storage.  There will, however, still be restrictions on the permitted dimensions of any proposed sheds and stores, which will be covered in a separate blog.

Other changes

There will also be extensive changes to PDR for agricultural developments, together with urgent changes to the PDR for aquaculture related to fish farming.  Both topics will be covered in a separate blog.

What's next?

The Scottish Government is set to release more detailed guidance and advice on the Phase 1 changes in the Spring to coincide with the roll-out.

In terms of the remainder of the phased programme, it is understood that Phase 2 will begin later this month, January 2021, and will involve PDR for town centre changes of use and electric vehicle charging infrastructure.

Phase 3 is due to begin in Spring 2021 and will cover PDR for hill tracks (private ways).  Phase 4 is due to begin in Autumn 2021 with subsequent phases to follow.  This phase and subsequent phases will cover PDR for micro-renewables (domestic and non-domestic), district heating and supporting infrastructure, energy storage (domestic and non-domestic), householder developments, defibrillator cabinets, habitat pond creation and allotments/community growing schemes.