Call for views: Consultation on aspects of planning obligations

Our Planning Law Sub-committee seeks the views of our members and interested stakeholders on the subject of planning obligations, under section 75 (Planning Obligations) of the Town and Country Planning (Scotland) Act 1997 (‘the Act’). 

The purpose of this consultation is to identify an evidence base to support good practice in relation to planning obligations, with a view to minimising some areas of uncertainty and reducing delays. It is our intention to publish a summary of the outcome of this consultation. Participation in this consultation will enable the Society to establish whether there is broad consensus on a range of important practical issues concerning planning obligations. We will report our findings to Scottish Government and these findings will contribute to Scottish Government’s review of the Circular. 

We would be pleased to hear from you with your views by 10am on Monday 3 February 2020 and you can find further information and details of how to respond in the consultation document below.

As the professional body for Scottish solicitors, the Law Society of Scotland has an important duty to work in the public interest. This duty is reflected in our five year strategy, Leading Legal Excellence. A critical part of our strategy is to INFLUENCE the creation of a fairer and more just society by being an international centre of excellence in thought leadership.

The members of our Planning Law Sub-committee are solicitors and non-solicitors with a particular specialisation in planning law and policy. The Sub-committee has representation from both the private and public sectors, from academia and community interests.

The Society has engaged fully with the Scottish Government’s reform of the planning system, including the passing of the Planning (Scotland) Act 2019. It supports the policy objectives of that Act to strengthen and simplify the planning system, and to ensure planning better serves Scotland‘s communities and economy[1]. In addition to legislative reform, the Society recognises that the planning system can be enhanced by improved planning practices.

Planning obligations are an important part of the planning system and are increasingly used by planning authorities to support infrastructure provision required as a direct consequence of the proposed development. For example, this could include the provision of affordable housing, educational facilities and transport infrastructure. We are aware of a range of examples of good practice in relation to planning obligations.

The existing Circular[2] provides advice on the scope of planning obligations and the need for compliance with the five policy tests[3]. It does not provide guidance on all practical aspects of planning obligations. We are aware of variations in practice in relation to planning obligations and of delays in the completion of planning obligations following a “minded to grant” decision has been taken by an appointed officer with delegated powers or planning committee. Uncertainty regarding some of these practical aspects may be contributing to these delays and may impact upon the time taken for the issuing of planning permissions.


Download the consultation document here.

[1]Planning (Scotland) Bill Policy Memorandum; accessible here.

[2] Planning Obligations and Good Neighbour Agreements Circular 3/2012.

[3]These tests are: (a) necessary to make the development acceptable in planning terms, (b) serve a planning purpose and where it is possible to identify infrastructure provision requirements in advance, should relate to development plans, (c) relate to the proposed development either as a direct consequence of the development or arising from the cumulative impact of the development in the area, (d) fairly and reasonably relate in scale and kind to the proposed development, and (e) be reasonable in all other respects.  

Calls for views - Access to justice

Our Access to Justice committee is seeking views around pro bono in Scotland.

Pro bono is an important element of access to justice in Scotland, as well as other jurisdictions. Though not a substitute for legal aid, it offers assistance to people across a range of different types of legal problem. We know that this volunteering is prevalent, often through formal programmes, such as firms’ CSR or university law clinics, though also often at individuals’ own initiative. We are keen to explore what more can be done to promote, recognise and support pro bono work in Scotland and hope that our call for views helps to inform this work.

We are inviting views from stakeholders – providers or users of pro bono, or any other interested individuals and organisations – to help us to understand the overall picture. You can submit your views through a short survey or you can provide more detailed views by emailing accesstojustice@lawscot.org.uk
The committee will hold stakeholder roundtables and report on its findings later in 2019.

Our Access to Justice committee is seeking views around alternative dispute resolution (ADR) in Scotland.

The use of ADR across Scotland varies widely. It is an area that is increasingly integrated with court procedure, particularly the simple procedure rules. And it is an area that may become more accessible as a result of technology. At this stage, our committee wants to consider whether there is more that could be done to support ADR in Scotland and is looking initially to understand the overall coverage of ADR services.

We are inviting views from stakeholders – providers or users of ADR – to help us to understand the overall picture. You can submit your views through a short survey or you can provide more detailed views by emailing accesstojustice@lawscot.org.uk

The committee will hold stakeholder roundtables and intends to report on its findings later in 2019.

Call for views - Accounts rules consultation 2019

In advance of this year’s AGM on Thursday, 30 May, we are consulting on proposed amendments to the Accounts rules.

The Client Protection Sub-committee has put forward proposals for two additional rules, preventing Scottish solicitors from acting as a bank for their clients.  These proposals are in line with our ongoing supervisory commitments and to clarify what is required of Scottish solicitors in terms of AML processes and procedures.

It is proposed that the first additional rule is inserted at Part II 6.3.1 which relates to ‘clients' money to be paid into client account or holding ledger’.  Proposed rule 6.3.1 (d) shown below)

(d) ensure that payments into a client account are in respect of instructions relating to an underlying transaction (and the funds arising therefrom) or to a service within the course of a normal solicitor client relationship.

It is proposed that the second additional rule is inserted at Part II 6.5.2 which relates to ‘Drawings from client account’.  Proposed rule 6.5.3 shown below.

6.5.3 Transfers or withdrawals from a client account must be in respect of instructions relating to an underlying transaction (and the funds arising therefrom) or to a service arising in the normal course of the solicitor client relationship.

This consultation closed on Monday 22 April and we are taking the views of our members and stakeholders in to consideration.

You can view the proposed amendments in context here.

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