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Householder Permitted Development Rights (Scottish Government 2009)

Submission from ALGAO:Scotland

Luke McCarthy
Householder Permitted Development Rights Consultation
Directorate for the Built Environment
Scottish Government
2H Victoria Quay
Edinburgh EH6 6QQ

11 March 2009

Dear Sirs,

Householder Permitted Development Rights Consultation

ALGAO:Scotland represents Local Authority and National Park archaeological services in Scotland and is part of the UK-wide organisation, ALGAO:UK. We welcome this opportunity to comment upon this Scottish Government consultation and would like to offer the following comments and recommendations.

ALGAO:Scotland (Association of Local Government Archaeological Officers) with Archaeology Scotland (formerly Council for Scottish Archaeology) previously approached the Planning Modernisation & Co-ordination Division of the Scottish Executive in 2007, expressing our concerns about addressing archaeological issues in the proposed revision of the Permitted Development Orders. This was in response to the commissioned study Report reviewing the General Permitted Development Order and making recommendations for changes to its form and content 2007. Though archaeological concerns were briefly mentioned in this report, they were not addressed, nor were they dealt with in the 2008 Householder PD User/Design Code Scoping Study. Equally the 2008 Strategic Environmental Assessment Scoping Study makes only reference to built heritage and not archaeological concerns.

Whilst ALGAO: Scotland recognises and supports the overall aim to simplify and streamline the planning process inherent in the 2006 Scottish Planning Act, we do have serious concerns regarding the impact the relaxation of certain elements of the Householder Permitted Development Rights will have upon our finite archaeological resources. It is widely recognised that c.95% of our nation's archaeological and historic built heritage only receives protection through Local Authorities as a material consideration under the current Planning Legislation. Yet this important legislative document on permitted development rights contains no mention of either Scheduled Ancient Monuments or the 95% of Scotland's archaeological heritage that does not have statutory legal protection.

As the proposals seek to increase the size of areas open to development (both internally and externally) without any safeguards for the protection or recording of the archaeological resource (e.g a 60 sq m area could easily encompass a medieval house or a prehistoric cairn), they must be regarded as having a potentially severe impact, one which would seem to be at odds with the tenets of the Scottish Government's Policy's on the Historic Environment laid out in both its Scottish Historic Environment Policy (SHEP) and Scottish Planning Policy 23: Planning and the Historic Environment (SPP23). The issue of permitted development rights in relation to archaeological deposits requires much greater attention than has been expressed here.

We feel that the Scottish Government has been remiss in not assessing the impact of these proposals on Scotland's archaeological resource and would strongly urge that the Directorate for the Built Environment conduct a proper Strategic Environmental Assessment on these impacts so as not to be in breach of their own guidelines, as set out in the Environmental Assessment (Scotland) Act 2005.

In respect to the questions put forward in this consultation paper we would like to make the following specific responses.

Q1 Do you agree with this change from floor area to development footprint/ ground area?
No comment

Q2. Do you agree with the new approach to principal, side and rear elevations?
In general no comment, however rear and side elevations may have significant survivals from earlier buildings that are masked by more recent frontages to principal elevations. To focus on the impacts to principal elevations may ignore the potential impacts on these other elevations.

Q3. Do you believe that issues regarding road safety are sufficiently addressed by the restrictions on PDR set out in Article 3 of the draft Householder Permitted Development Order and the height limit of 1 metre within 5 metres of a road?
No Comment

Q4-6. Do you agree with the overall limit on development of the curtilage (excluding the original dwelling) of 40%? Do you agree with the additional limit on the development of rear curtilage of 40%? & Do you agree with an absolute limit of 60 square metres?
ALGAO:Scotland has serious concerns over the unregulated expansion of permitted development footprints which could lead to the potential loss of important archaeological deposits and structures. For example a 60 square metre extension within a medieval burgh or historic village, not all of which in Scotland are in Conservation Areas, could impact upon the structural remains of one or more medieval houses and associated deposits. In a rural area, such as on top of an occupation mound in the Western Isles, an extension of this size could destroy evidence of several thousand years of settlement.

Existing conservation area designations are almost entirely identified on architectural and not archaeological grounds. Until areas of specific archaeological interest, as identified by local authority heritage services, are excluded from this order then ALGAO:Scotland does not believe that this expansion of permitted development rights should be allowed.

Q7. Do you agree with the additional conditions and restrictions on householder PDR in conservation areas contained in the draft Householder Permitted Development Order?
Yes, we support this.

Q8. Do you agree with the additional conditions and restrictions on householder PDR within the curtilage of listed buildings as set out in the draft householder permitted development order?
Yes, we support this.

Q9. Should there simply be no permitted development in relation to conservation areas or the curtilage of listed buildings?
Yes, ALGAO:Scotland believe that there should be no permitted development rights in conservation areas, or within the curtilage of listed buildings, or identified areas of specific archaeological interest.

Q10. Should additional statutory restrictions be placed on householder PDR within World Heritage Sites?
Yes, World Heritage sites should be included.

Q11. If so, what level of control should be applied (e.g. similar to that for conservation areas or a total restriction)?
It would be appropriate to have a total restriction on permitted development rights in World Heritage areas as is proposed for Conservation Areas.

Q12. Do you have any comments on the extent of designated areas where restrictions will apply?
Areas/sites of archaeological significance, as defined by local authority archaeology services, and Scheduled Ancient Monuments should be included as areas excluded from permitted development rights.

There is sufficient evidence from the Historic Scotland sponsored Burgh Surveys and from existing Historic Environment Records/ Sites & Monuments Records to define the main areas of interest.

Q13. In your experience, do planning authorities treat the addition of ramps and handrails to the exterior of houses to assist the elderly or disabled people as requiring an application for planning permission?
Where these affect listed buildings and/or significant archaeological remains then permitted development rights should be restricted.

Q14. Do respondents believe that replacement and alteration of existing windows in flats, without altering the overall size of the window opening should be permitted development?
In principal yes except where they impact upon a listed building.

Q15. Do respondents believe there should be specific PDR to allow flagpoles to be erected within the curtilage of a dwelling-house?
No comment, other than they should be sited away from areas of archaeological importance and controls should be placed upon them where they may affect Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas

Q16. If so, what controls should there be on the height of flagpoles and on their location, with particular regard to designated areas?
They should be sited away from areas of archaeological importance and controls should be placed upon them where they may affect Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas

Questions on Classes - Q17 (Classes 1-12)

  • Are the grant of permission and the restrictions and conditions clear?
  • Will these controls release a significant number of proposals (see paragraph 1.3) from the planning application process?
  • Will these PDR provide adequate controls on amenity?
  • Are there any changes to the controls which might mean significant further reduction in planning applications without undermining amenity?

It is not clear what procedures may be open to local authorities to control what would otherwise be permitted developments, except perhaps by Article 4 directions. This would need to be more clearly defined and local authorities encouraged to consider using Article 4 directions in respect of areas of specific archaeological interest.

Q18. Do respondents agree with the addition of requirements on drainage to PDR for new and replacement hard surfaces over an area of 5 square metres between the principal elevation and the road?
There may be some impact on archaeological deposits, particularly where frontages in former medieval towns and villages are involved.

Q19. Do respondents think the changes to permitted development rights as drafted will achieve the Scottish Government's aim of removing a significant amount of householder development from the planning application process?
ALGAO:Scotland recognises that this may reduce the number of planning applications involving householder development, but it may, as an unwanted consequence, increase damage to the undesignated archaeological resource.

Q20. If not, what particular alterations to the draft Householder Permitted Development Order might significantly reduce the number of householder planning applications?
No comment.

Q21-Q23. What effects might any suggested changes have on amenity issues? Do respondents believe that the provisions of the draft Householder Permitted Development Order pay sufficient regard to the impact on local amenity? and If not, what particular alterations to the draft Householder Permitted Development Order might address some or all of these issues?
This increase in permitted development rights could have a significant impact on the historic landscape character outwith conservation areas and could also severely impact on Scotland's archaeological resource.

Further a proliferation of poorly designed extensions could erode and over time alter the built character of villages and towns, thereby detracting from their quality, sense of place and community values.

Q24. What particular issues would you like to see addressed in the guidance accompanying the changes to householder permitted development rights?
Procedures should be included in this guidance to require an assessment of whether there will be an impact on the archaeological resource from any proposed permitted development.

Q25. Are there any costs or benefits not identified in the draft RIA?
No comment

Q26. If so, do you have any information or can you suggest sources of relevant information on these costs and/ or benefits?
No comment

Q27. Are there any potential impacts on particular societal groups that we should be aware of in finalising the order?
No comment

We hope that our comments and recommendations are incorporated within the final document.

Yours faithfully

John A Lawson
Chair ALGAO:Scotland

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