Pre-Application Consultation (PAC) Changes in Scotland

Are the current public pre-application consultation requirements fit for purpose? An independent panel report ‘Empowering Planning to Deliver Great Places’ (May 2016)  found that there were areas in the current process that were lacking and more could be done to garner public confidence in the system.

Taking this, and recent changes proposed through The Planning (Scotland) Act 2019 on board, the Scottish Government have recently issued a consultation on Proposed Changes to Pre-Application Consultation Requirements in Planning with a deadline for comments on 6 November 2020.

Some of the key changes to Pre-Application Consultation (PAC) requirements proposed for introduction through changes to secondary legislation include:

  • The proposal that PAC information should be available in hard copy and by electronic means (online);
  • An additional public event (i.e. a required minimum of two public events);
  • Requirements on the content of PAC reports (currently there is only guidance relating to the content of a PAC report); and
  • Exemption from PAC for applications in certain circumstances.

With regards to the additional public event, it is currently proposed that this is undertaken later in the PAC process to provide feedback to the public on views/comments received through earlier stages of PAC. It is proposed that there should be a minimum of 7 days between the first and second events to avoid events being held on consecutive days.

The Planning (Scotland) Act 2019 introduces a new time limit for the submission of an application following the submission of a Proposal of Application Notice (PoAN) to the Planning Authority. Currently, there is no deadline for the submission of an application following the PoAN submission, however, the Act introduces an 18-month time limit. It is proposed that the changes proposed through the current consultation will be brought into force at the same time as the 18-month time limit.

In addition to seeking views on the proposed changes, the Scottish Government are also looking for details of experience using online alternative to public events during the COVID-19 emergency.

If you would like to discuss the proposed changes to the PAC requirements or if you would like a representation prepared on your behalf, perhaps to share your recent online public event experiences (both good and bad), please contact our Development Planning team on

Pre-application consultation with the public in advance of a planning application can be a valuable experience. If you have a project in the pipeline that requires the submission of a PoAN and the need to undertake PAC, our Development Planning team would be more than happy to discuss any proposals with you and help you navigate through this process.

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