1 October 2015
Today marks substantial reform of the Scottish heritage planning system, with far-reaching effects on bringing forward development on sensitive sites. Richard Phillips, Director of Planning at WYG’s Edinburgh office, explains what you need to know.
From 1st October, a new public body, Historic Environment Scotland (HES) takes over from Historic Scotland and the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland (RCAHMS). HES will carry out work around designations and consents under its own statutory authority. It will have the same ‘key agency’ status as Scottish Natural Heritage and the Scottish Environment Protection Agency.
The most significant implication is that HES will act as statutory consultee under its own authority, unlike Historic Scotland which acted on behalf of Scottish Ministers. So HES will be free to express more forthright views on applications as it will not ‘fetter the discretion’ of the Ministers on any subsequent decision to ‘call in’ an application.
Alongside this major change are new and revised regulations, with adjustments to heritage management roles and procedures. The new Historic Environment Circular 1 sets out the processes identified in the new regulations.
The regulations introduce:
• Changes to the process of applying for and determining applications for listed building consent and conservation area consent
• Requirement for planning authorities to consult HES before granting or refusing applications for listed building consent (works to category A and B listed buildings) or conservation area consent (demolition of unlisted buildings in conservation areas)
• Requirement for planning authorities to notify Scottish Ministers where they are minded to grant consent only if HES has objected to such applications
• Provision for non-disclosure of security information in certain circumstances without affecting the validity of an application
• Requirement for applications for listed building consent to be accompanied by access statements (where proposals impact upon the means of access to the building) setting out how disabled access has been taken into account
• New rights of appeal to Scottish Ministers relating to scheduled monument consent
• New rights of appeal to Scottish Ministers against listing of a building and an amendment of the listing description relating to a building. These rights only apply to decisions on designations made from 1 October 2015 and are not retrospective
• The ability of HES to state legally that an object or structure fixed to a listed building and/or any object or structure within the curtilage of the listed building is not to be treated as listed, and/or that any part or feature of a listed building is not of special architectural or historic interest and is therefore not listed.
Local planning authorities and Historic Environment Scotland will need to be prepared. At the same time, developers and property owners will also need to be particularly vigilant where buildings are being put forward for listing. Developers should consider early pre-application engagement with HES where their proposals may affect the historic environment.
Chris Surfleet, Director of Heritage for WYG, said: “This move appears to represent a streamlining of the system which could potentially herald a swiftening of the process, and opens up a new level of pro-activity for HES. Being able to act more independently may have its risks for the development process, but it also comes with increased responsibility for over-seeing the positive management of Scottish heritage – which includes development and regeneration. How soon might we see this method repeated south of the border?”
If you would like further advice on the new regulations or any other Scottish heritage matter then please contact either Richard J Phillips at firstname.lastname@example.org or Lisa Russell at email@example.com in the WYG Edinburgh office on 01312 475 700.