Certificate of appropriate alternative development appeals

Last updated: 19 April 2018

A Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) allows councils and other organisations to buy land without the owner's permission. If this happens to your land, you can apply to the planning authority for a 'certificate of appropriate alternative development'.

This certificate explains what you planned for the land if it hadn't been bought. To get this certificate, you need to have had planning permission for this use, e.g. permission to convert the land into a house.

If the CPO doesn't go ahead, the certificate allows you to develop the land in the way you wanted.

There's guidance on objecting a Compulsory Purchase Order on the Scottish Government website.

You have the right to make a certificate of appropriate alternative development appeal to Scottish Ministers if:

  • you are or were a person with an interest in the land being bought (normally the owner or ex-owner)
  • you are or were the acquiring authority for the land

How to appeal

You can appeal to Scottish Ministers if:

  • you disagree with what's in the certificate issued by the planning authority
  • if the planning authority doesn't issue the certificate within two months of your application

Your appeal must be made within one month of the date of receipt of the certificate, or within one month of the date the certificate should have been issued. You must also send copies of the appeal to the other party involved in the land acquisition, and the planning authority.

You can appeal online using the Online Appeal and Application System.

Guidance for using the online appeals system is available as a PDF on the eplanning.scot website.

Alternatively, you can download a Certificate of appropriate alternative development appeal form and submit it to Scottish Ministers by either email or post to the address on the form.

You should also send a copy to the planning authority. Guidance notes are available with the form.

Your appeal submission must include:

  • the local planning authority's certificate
  • your original application
  • all documents, materials and evidence you wish to rely on
  • any letters or emails between you and the local planning authority
  • your appeal, if you're appealing by post

You'll also need to submit any other documents that directly support your appeal, for example your appeal statement.

There is no cost for sending an appeal, but you'll be responsible for your own expenses.

The appeals process

Once you make an appeal, the Scottish Government will appoint a reporter to decide the appeal.

The planning authority must give its response to your appeal within 21 days. You will then have a further 14 days to comment on any new information submitted by the authority.

The appeals process has a strict timetable with deadlines for each stage. Make sure everything's sent on time. If you send information after the deadline, it may be sent back to you and may not be considered.

If the reporter considers that a decision can be made on the basis of this information and no site inspection is required, they'll aim to issue this decision within 8 weeks of receipt of the appeal.

The reporter may need to get more information in order to complete the report. If they do, they might require one or all of the following:

  • an inspection of the site
  • further written submissions
  • a hearing session (a structured meeting)
  • an inquiry session (a more formal event similar to a court case)

Inspection of the site

A site inspection allows a reporter to view the site and understand the issues that have been raised.

The reporter decides if a site inspection will be accompanied or unaccompanied. If it's accompanied, the planning authority and person making the appeal will be invited to attend. Anyone else, like those who have made representations about the appeal, will be told about the arrangements and invited to the site inspection.

The reporter can't discuss the merits of the appeal.

If the reporter chooses an unaccompanied visit, they will inspect the site alone.

If the reporter thinks a decision can be made based on submissions and a site inspection, they'll aim to issue a decision within 12 weeks of receiving the appeal.

Further Written submission

If the reporter needs further written submissions they'll request it from the person they think will be most suitable to provide it.

If this happens the reporter will aim to issue a decision within 20 weeks of receiving the appeal.

Hearing or public local inquiry

The reporter may decide that the information they need would be best presented at a hearing or inquiry session.

The difference between a hearing session and an inquiry session is:

  • a hearing session is a structured discussion led by the reporter
  • an inquiry session is more like a court case - witnesses give evidence in front of the reporter

The reporter will decide if a hearing or inquiry session is required. If it is, they'll aim to issue the decision on the appeal within 26 weeks (if it's a hearing) or 32 weeks (if it's an inquiry session).

Claiming expenses

You can submit a claim for expenses against a person or organisation if you think they have acted unreasonably and caused you unnecessary expense. This can be in the form of a written statement sent by email or letter.

After getting a claim of expenses, the person or organisation who the claim is made against (the 'opposing party') will be given 14 days to provide any comments.

The reporter will decide if they have acted unreasonably and will decide any costs that should be paid to cover the expenses.

The expenses claim is separate to the appeal. If you get awarded expenses this doesn't necessarily mean your appeal will be successful too.

If you want to withdraw your appeal

You must contact the Scottish Government if you want to withdraw your appeal.

You can do this before Scottish Ministers make a decision.

You must contact the Scottish Government if you want to withdraw your appeal or put in a request to the reporter to put a hold on the appeal (known as a SIST).

Email the Scottish Government at DPEA@gov.scot or write to them at:

Planning and Environmental Appeals Division
4 The Courtyard
Callendar Business Park

The decision

After taking all the evidence into account, Scottish Ministers will either:

  • support the original decision
  • overturn the decision
  • issue a decision (if the authority originally failed to give one)

You'll get a decision notice sent to you once Scottish Ministers have made a decision.

This will include the terms of the decision and the reasons for it.

How to challenge a reporter's decision

You can challenge the reporter's decision at the Court of Session.

You can't appeal the decision because you disagree with it, but you can challenge the decision if you think there was important evidence that the reporter misunderstood or didn't take into account.

If you want to challenge Scottish Ministers' decision:

  • the appeal to the Court of Session must be submitted within 42 days (6 weeks) of the date of the decision
  • you may have to cover the legal costs and any expenses should the challenge fail
  • anyone with sufficient interest can submit a challenge

You should seek advice from a lawyer if you're unsure about any part of this process.