The Planning Appeal/Local Review System in Scotland

The appeal/review system in Scotland differs from that in England in that where someone who has made an application for planning permission wants to challenge the terms of the planning authority's decision, or where no decision has been made, they have a right to either:

  • appeal to Scottish Ministers; or
  • request a review by the planning authority's local review body, which is made up of a group of three or more elected members of that authority.

Only one of these options will be available and the one appropriate depends upon the type of application that has been submitted in relation to the Hierarchy of Development and/or the way that the application has been determined by the planning authority.

In simple terms, only ‘Major’ planning applications such as larger housing schemes will go to appeal with most ‘Local’ developments (single houses, small commercial proposals and residential extensions for example) generally going to the local review body unless they have been considered by committee at the planning authority concerned.

The first step in Scotland is, therefore, to understand which determination route applies to the application and ensuring that the paperwork is either submitted to the Directorate for Planning and Environmental Appeals (DPEA) (planning appeal to Scottish Ministers) or the local authority (local review).

Thereafter most appeals in Scotland are dealt with based upon the information submitted to the DPEA and by a reporter appointed to consider the case, usually following a site visit, with only a few appeals being considered by a further exchange of written representations, a few at an informal hearing and almost none these days by inquiry. Most local reviews are dealt with based upon the case submitted, although a few more of these are the subject of a hearing before the local review board.