Scottish Ministers' Power to Call-in Planning Applications

This short briefing aims to answer some of the key questions raised about the operation of the Scottish call-in process.

The briefing document states that a recent decision by the City of Edinburgh Council to approve a residential development at Craighouse has generated considerable interest in Scottish Ministers’ power to call-in planning applications. This power allows Ministers to make the decision on a planning application, rather than the planning authority to which the application was made.

The briefing confirms that planning authorities are required to highlight a limited number of applications, which fall into certain categories, to Scottish Ministers. This allows Scottish Ministers the opportunity to consider whether to call-in the application for their own decision. This process is known as ‘notifying’ an application. Scottish Ministers also have the power to direct a planning authority to notify them of any application for planning permission or planning permission in principle, regardless of whether they fall into any of these categories. Scottish Ministers can then decide whether to call-in such an application. However, Scottish Ministers can also call-in any application that has yet to be determined, without the need for notification  

The briefing adds that Scottish Ministers normally only intervene in exceptional circumstances and generally only become involved in cases that raise issues of national as opposed to local significance. That said, there is no definitive list of criteria used to decide whether to call-in a planning application; each case is considered on its own merits.

A Ministerial direction to notify or call-in an application can be issued at any point during a planning authority’s consideration of that application, up to the date at which the authority formally records a decision on the grant or refusal of planning permission. The date on which planning permission is deemed to be granted or refused is not necessarily the date on which the local authority reaches its decision. Section 37(4) of the 1997 Act states that the effective date is the date on which"… the notice of the planning authority's decision bears to have been signed on behalf of the authority." This is normally taken to mean the date on which the decision notice is sent to the applicant. The content and format of the decision notice is established in Regulation 28 of the Town and Country Planning (Development Management Procedure) (Scotland) Regulations 2013. The notice must state the reasons for the authority’s decision.

Date: 24/11/2014 Dateof publication

Author: Scottish Parliament Information Centre

DCP link: This item updates DCP section 3.14

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