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How is a planning application processed?

How to submit a planning application and an explanation of the process.


A planning application starts with the submission of an application form (online or by post), accompanied by scaled drawings and any other information needed, and the pdf icon planning fee [126kb]. The form, information and fee will be checked to make sure that the council has all the information it needs, then it will be registered. When it's registered, the council sends neighbour notification letters to close neighbours and advertises it in the local press if necessary. The application is then allocated to a planning officer. 

The Planning Act defines three categories of development, National, Major and Local. National developments are large scale infrastructure developments which are in the National Planning Framework, such as a new bridge crossing the Forth. Major developments are those which have a site size of two hectares or more, or comprise 50 or more dwellings. All applications smaller than this are classified as local applications.


Any material objections submitted will be considered by the case officer. Sometimes, as a result of objections or the case officer's assessment of the proposal the applicant will be asked to make some changes. If this happens and the plans change, any objectors will normally be notified of the change and given the opportunity to comment on the new proposals.     


The council will consult statutory consultees such as the council's Roads and Transportation Services and Environmental Health, and, outwith the council, Transport Scotland, Scottish Water, the Scottish Environment Protection Agency, Scottish Natural Heritage and Historic Environment Scotland, depending upon the circumstances of the application.

Site visit and consideration of all material issues

The planning officer assigned to the application will visit the site, consider all development plan policies relating to the application, the views of consultees, and all comments or objections submitted by neighbours. The council has a duty to take account of material considerations in the determination of a planning application.  Material considerations. are defined by the Government.   


A decision on whether to grant or refuse an application may be made by the Development Management Manager or the Development Management Committee of the council (local applications), or by the Planning Committee (major applications). In most cases conditions are used to control the development, or to make changes which are considered necessary to make the proposal acceptable.

Local reviews or appeals

The applicant is entitled to appeal a planning decision if unhappy with the decision. Usually this is because their planning application has been refused, but it may also happen where consent has been granted but the applicant is unhappy with one or more of  the planning conditions attached to the consent.

Depending upon the category of application and the level at which the decision was made, the applicant may be able to seek either a local review by councillors or appeal the decision to the Scottish Government.