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Local Government, Housing and Planning Committee

Meeting date: Tuesday, March 21, 2023


Subordinate Legislation

Valuation for Rating (Plant and Machinery) (Scotland) Amendment Regulations 2023 (SSI 2023/32)

Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development and Use Classes) (Scotland) Miscellaneous Amendment Order 2023 (SSI 2023/35)

The Convener

The next item on our agenda is consideration of two negative instruments. There is no requirement for the committee to make any recommendations on the instruments. Members will note that we wrote to stakeholders to invite views on the Scottish statutory instrument on general permitted development, and a couple of responses are included with the meeting papers.

If members agree to do so, we could write to the Scottish Government to seek further information on how the safeguarding process will work in practice and on whether councils offer clear procedures for raising concerns and complaints, as RNIB Scotland has suggested.

Do members have any comments on the instruments?

Willie Coffey

I am still a little concerned about the general permitted development SSI. It is not clear whether there are sufficient safeguards in that measure. The minister says in the policy note that

“it does not disapply ... controls on obstructions”,

but that does not tell me that councils could not still go ahead with a development, irrespective of its impact or of the community’s views.

There is a lack of clarity in the middle ground about whether people can object to something or participate in a decision, and whether the council should assess an application. That is still not clear to me, I am afraid, which concerns me a little.

We can seek reassurances in a letter.

I support seeking reassurance, as you have outlined.

Miles Briggs

I agree with Willie Coffey on that. There is a need for guidance to be quite specific, and for all councils to follow that. I met RNIB representatives last week on a separate issue, and we discussed the use of ropes, for example, to create those areas. There is no real guidance or clarification on what that should look like. That is one of the key barriers that blind and visually impaired people often raise, so it is important that we ensure that the guidance is specific if the measure goes ahead.

Taking those comments into consideration, would members like to take oral evidence on the matter?

I think that it would be welcome.

There are so many people who want to ensure that they have an input into the process, and that it does not have unintended consequences when it is rolled out, so I think that that would be helpful.

The Convener

I think that it would be helpful, too.

To clarify, would you like to hear from the minister on what is going to be rolled out, or would you like us to bring in organisations such as RNIB Scotland?

We could probably just get the minister in. We have read the submissions and concerns from the organisations.

Good—let us get some clarity from the minister.

Whomever it is.

Yes, that is right—we will get clarity on that in a few days’ time.

Miles Briggs

Ahead of that, perhaps we could ask the minister, as we are asking them to attend, whether they could provide the guidance so that we can look specifically at what is going to be rolled out. As with short-term lets, guidance can be misinterpreted, so it would be helpful for us to look at that before we question the minister.

Let us see whether that is possible.

Marie McNair

The same goes for planning permission for change of use other than premises

“that are in close proximity to dwellings.”

That will depend on the interpretation of the guidance, so perhaps we can have a wee look at that.

The Convener

Those are all good points. We need more clarity, and we want some up-front information.

Those comments were all on the second instrument. Are there any comments on the first instrument?

I see that there are no further comments from members. At the start of the meeting, we agreed to take the next item in private, so I close the public part of the meeting.

12:24 Meeting continued in private until 12:45.