The Scottish Government has published a consultation paper on its proposals for changing and extending Permitted Development Rights (PDR) in relation to the priority development types included in Phase 1 of its programme.

PDR remove the need to apply for planning permission, although prior notification/prior approval procedures sometimes apply. These typically relate to minor and uncontroversial developments where it is unlikely that planning permission would be refused. PDR therefore removes the need for unnecessary planning applications reducing the burden on both applicants and planning authorities.

Given the importance of digital communications and connectivity, which has particularly come to the fore during the Covid‑19 pandemic and the sudden shift to working from home, changes to PDR for digital telecommunications infrastructure remains within Phase 1 of the programme.

Telecoms infrastructure already benefits from PDR and the Scottish Government proposes to extend these rights to assist with the roll out of new and improved communications infrastructure (e.g. 5G).

The proposals include:-

  • Increasing the PDR height limit for new ground based masts from 25m to 30m;
  • Increasing the PDR height (and width) limits on extensions to existing ground based masts (including replacement masts), from 5m upwards depending on the size of the existing mast;
  • Increasing the PDR size limits for antennas and other equipment on buildings, equipment cabinets on the ground and on buildings, other apparatus, and underground equipment; and
  • extending PDR for some types of telecoms infrastructure into sensitive areas, such as conservation areas, subject to lower size/height limits than elsewhere.

The consultation closes on 12 November and the responses received will assist with the drafting of the regulations that will be laid in Parliament to bring the changes into effect. It is expected that the changes will come into force early next year.

Whilst the proposals will be welcomed by many, there may be concern in some quarters given the reduced control and lack of scrutiny for certain types of development.


Scott Logan