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Revised circular sets out planning obligations rules

17 December 2012

Revised Scottish Government policy on the use of planning obligations amd "good neighbour" agreements has been published in a new circular.

The document, Circular 3/2012, replaces Circular 1/2010 in setting out ministerial policy on the use of  obligations and agreements made under sections 75 and following of the Town and Country Planning (Scotland) Act 1997, as amended.

Planning obligations, commonly entered into between developers and local authorities as a means of securing planning permission, can be used to secure improvements in the area close to and affected by the proposed development, but should not replace the merits test of whether an application should be granted.

The new circular sets out five tests that a planning obligation should satisfy:

  • that it is necessary to make the proposed development acceptable in planning terms;
  • that it serves a planning purpose, and in relation to infrastructure requirements, relates to development plans;
  • that it relates to the proposed development either as a direct consequence or through the cumulative impact of development in the area;
  • that it fairly and reasonably relates in scale and kind to the proposed development; and
  • that it is reasonable in all other respects.

 "Good neighbour" agreements cover similar matters but are entered into with a community body rather than a local authority.

Both types of obligation can be registered in the Land Register to make them enforceable against future owners of the land.

The circular also covers modification and discharge of the obligations, and appeals to Scottish ministers.


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