A planning obligation is an agreement made between a local council's planning authority and a developer.
You can apply to the planning authority to have the obligation changed or removed. If it decides the obligation should go ahead after all, you can then appeal to Scottish Ministers.
How to appeal
You have the right to appeal to Scottish Ministers if the planning authority makes a planning obligation you don't agree with.
You can appeal if the planning authority:
- refuses your planning obligation application
- doesn't give you a decision within 2 months after getting your application
If the authority refused your application, you have 3 months to appeal starting from the date of its decision.
If the authority didn't give you a decision, you have 3 months to appeal starting from the date it had to decide by.
You can appeal online using the Online Appeal and Application System.
Alternatively, you can download a 'Planning obligation 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.
If you need help filling in the form, there are guidance notes in the supporting files on the gov.scot website.
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. If you send information after the deadline, it may be sent back to you and not be considered.
The reporter will consider your appeal and planning authority's response then make a decision as soon as possible.
They may need to get more information before they can decide. If they do, they might ask for:
- an inspection of the site
- more 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 will aim to issue a decision within 12 weeks of receiving the appeal.
Further Written submission
If the reporter needs further written submissions they will 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 hearing or inquiry session.
The difference between a hearing sessions 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 will 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).
You can submit a claim for expenses against a person or organisation if you think they have acted unreasonably and caused you unnecessary expense.
The reporter will decide if they have acted unreasonably and will decide any costs that should be paid to cover these 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 any time before the reporter makes a decision.
Email the Scottish Government at DPEA@gov.scot or write to them at:
Planning and Environmental Appeals Division
4 The Courtyard
Callendar Business Park
After taking all the evidence into account, the reporter will either:
- support the authority's original decision
- overturn the authority's decision
- issue a decision (if the authority originally failed to give one)
You'll get a decision notice sent to you once the reporter has 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'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 a reporter's 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