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Planning FAQs

This page contains information on the frequently asked questions concerning planning the council receive. 

Information on how to comment on Planning Applications

Information on the Planning Application decision making process

Information on Planning Constraints concerning planning applications

Information on Developer Contributions or 'Planning Gain'

Information on Permitted Development

Information on Non-Material Variations

Information on Use Classes and Permitted Changes of Use

Information on Telecommunications (Mobile Phone Masts)

Information on Pre-Application Discussions

Information on Planning Terminology

Development Management

What is full planning permission?

Full planning permission is a detailed planning application for property development. It requires full details of the design, siting, materials, access and parking facilities for your proposed development, with to-scale drawings

What is planning permission in principle?

Planning permission in principle (PPP) is where the consent is in principle for development on a specified site (you do not need to submit detailed, architect-drawn or to-scale drawings). PPP is granted subject to conditions that the development in question will not begin until certain matters (e.g. access, design, landscaping etc) have been approved by the Planning Authority or Scottish Ministers

What is an application for approval of matters specified in conditions?

An application must be made for approval, consent or agreement required by any condition imposed on a grant of planning permission in principle

What happens when a planning application is submitted?

The application is checked by our administration team to make sure we have everything we need to process it, including that the form is filled in correctly; the drawings and plans have enough information to allow us to register the application; and the fee is correct. Once we have checked your application, the relevant neighbour notification will be sent out and the documents and plans will be available for public viewing on the Council's website. We will send you an acknowledgement and, if necessary, request any further information needed to register the application. For more information about what is needed to make an application valid, please see the notes that accompany the application forms

How is a decision on a planning application made?

Planning applications are decided in line with the Development Plan unless there are very good planning reasons not to do so. Some of the things we will look at when we consider your planning application are the - number, size, layout, siting and external appearance of buildings proposed, means of access, landscaping, impact on the neighbourhood, availability of infrastructure (such as roads and schools) and the compatibility of the proposed use with its surroundings. Further information on the decision-making process can be found here:  Planning Application Decision Making Process

  How do we publicise planning applications?

The applications we receive each week are made up into a weekly list and copies are sent to Community Councils. The list is also available on the web here:  Weekly and extant lists of planning applications 
In addition, the Council will have sent out the relevant neighbour notification notice on receipt of your application. Certain types of application are also advertised by the Council in the local press. Your application will be available to be studied by the public at the Planning Reception at Marischal College and online here:  Planning Register
Anyone can comment on your application, not just your immediate neighbours

  Whose responsibility is to get planning permission? It is your responsibility for seeking, or not seeking, planning permission. If planning permission is required then work should not start until planning permission has been granted
  I am not sure whether I need to apply for planning permission? If you are in any doubt about whether you need to apply, you can write to us with the details of your proposal or e-mail to and we will advise you as to whether or not planning permission is required. For further information:  Pre-Application Enquires
  Can I make the application myself? It is possible to make the application yourself but most applicants appoint an agent (for instance, an architect, a solicitor, or a builder) to prepare their proposals and make the application. You or your agent should use the correct application form and read the relevant guidance notes that accompany them
  Do I have to own the site to make an application? Anyone can make an application, irrespective of who owns the land or buildings concerned. However, if you are not the owner, or if you have only part-ownership, it is necessary to inform the owner or those who share ownership, including any leaseholder whose lease still has seven or more years to run, and any agricultural tenant
  Who do we consult? Depending on the nature of the application, it is often necessary for the Planning Service to carry out consultations, either within the Council (for example with our Roads or Environmental Health colleagues), Community Councils and externally with 'statutory consultees' such as Government agencies, for example:
Forestry Commission Scotland
Historic Scotland
Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA)
Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH)
  Will we visit the site? We will visit the site but would not normally give you notice of this unless you have advised us of a particular access problem
  Can changes be made before a decision is taken? We may discuss changes with you or your agent before we make a decision on your application, based on our assessment and any comments we have received
  When does the Planning Committee meet? Most planning applications are decided by planning official (under delegated powers) rather than by Councillors. The Council's Scheme of Delegation lays down when officials have the right to make a decision. However if your application is to be considered by the Planning Committee you will be informed in advance. The Planning Committee meets at 10 am in the Town House, Broad Street, Aberdeen. For further information please consult the Related Link on the right - Planning Committee

How long does the decision-making process on planning applications take?

The Council will try to make decisions on planning applications within 2 calendar months, however, decisions on more complicated and controversial applications are likely to take longer

Where can I get a planning application form?

You can obtain application forms by the following methods:
Apply For It
Planning Applications
Contacting the reception on the Ground Floor (left) in Marischal College on 03000 200 292
or  ePlanning Scotland

Can I get help with filling in the planning application form?

You can telephone us on 03000 200 292 or visit us at the reception on the Ground Floor (left) in Marischal College, where a planner may be able to help you. The guidance notes that accompany the application forms should also be of some use

Can I submit a planning application online?

You can submit a planning application online. For further information:  Planning Applications
or  ePlanning Scotland

How much does it cost to apply for planning permission?

Fees for the submission of planning applications are set nationally. For further information:  Planning Application Fees

If my planning application is refused, will I get my application fee refunded?

The planning application fee is an administration fee, and as such, there is no refund for a failed planning application

Is there a time limit within which I have to carry out the work specified on my planning application?

Yes, normally work on site should be started within 3 years of the date of planning permission. Any time limits are specified in the consent documents

How can I comment on a planning application?

Any comments you wish to make should be made in writing as soon as possible. The Neighbour Notification form of public advertisement will give a date by which comments should be received. If you have missed the time limit, it may still be possible to comment. For further information:  Planning Comments

Where can I get help to object to a planning application?

If you are a notified neighbour, the rear of the notice you receive will give you general advice. For further information:  Planning Comments

On what grounds can I object to a planning application?

You can normally object to proposed planning applications under considerations that are considered 'material' to the application. These objections can cover such things as the proposed development limiting the natural light to your property and garden etc. For further information: Planning Comments

If I am notified of a proposed development, is the developer obliged to give me a copy of the plans?

No, if you are notified of a proposed development, the developer need only give you a copy of the location plan it is up to you to investigate the full planning application. Full details of the application form and submitted plans are available for viewing online via the Council's Planning Register here: Planning Register

Even if I did not get a neighbour notification, can I still object to a planning application?

Yes, anybody can object to a planning application, as long as it is based on material planning considerations. For further information:  Planning Comments

How can I look at the plans for a current planning application?

Plans for a current planning application can be viewed at the Ground Floor (left) reception in Marischal College or via the Council's Planning Register here:  Planning Register

How can I find out whether planning permission has been granted for something which is currently being built?

If you have the address of where the works are being carried out, you can find out whether planning consent exists for that work by visiting the reception at the Ground Floor (left) in Marischal College, phoning 03000 200 292 or by checking here:  Planning Register

How can I find out about planning application decisions?

Formal decision letters are sent out to the applicant or their representative or agent and all objectors as soon as possible. You can contact us to find out whether a decision about a particular application has been made. Consent documents for applications submitted since 01 April 2009 can be viewed here: Planning Register

Do I require planning permission for a change of use of a shop to a flat or other use?

Changes of use of shops to flats/houses; hot food takeaways; restaurants and cafes; and office type uses such as a bank or building society all require planning permission. For further information:  Use Classes and Permitted Changes of Use

Do I need planning permission for any of the following: to erect a greenhouse, conservatory or detached garage?

You may or may not require planning permission, as the requirements for planning consent can vary depending on whether the property is a dwelling house or flat, a listed Building or located within a Conservation Area. Other factors include the dimensions, scale of the building and distance from the property boundary. For a property specific answer, please contact us

Do I need planning permission to alter or replace the windows in my property?

Alteration/replacement of windows in listed buildings may require planning permission and listed building consent. Window alterations/replacement for unlisted buildings in conservation areas may also require planning permission. Window alterations in flats that are neither Listed nor located within a Conservation Area do not require planning permission. For a property specific answer, please contact us. For further information:

Do I need planning permission to erect a TV aerial?

You do not need planning permission to erect a TV aerial as long as it is solely for your own use

Do I need permission to install a solar panel or other domestic microgeneration equipment?

The rules for domestic microgeneration have changed. Please consult the Government guidance external link to the right - Domestic Microgeneration or contact us

Do I need planning permission to put in a driveway or car run-in?

Planning permission is required if the property is a flat; construction work involves over 0.5 metres of excavation or infilling: the verge to the footway has grass over 2.5 metres wide; the driveway accesses a classified road: or the property is a listed building or is situated in a Conservation Area. Additionally Roads consent will be required to form the dropped kerb. For more information: Driveways - the need for Planning Approval

Is planning permission required for a fence, wall or gate?

In the case of dwelling houses, if the height of any fence or other 'means of enclosure' (including a gate or wall) exceeds 2 metres in height, or 1 metre where it fronts a road ; is within a Conservation area or the curtilage of a Listed Building, then planning permission is required. For flatted properties, permission is required if the fence exceeds 1 metre in height within 20 metres of a road. For a property specific answer, please contact us

  Is planning permission required for decking? In the case of dwelling houses, planning permission is required if the deck is forward of the wall forming the principal or side elevation where that elevation fronts a road; any part of the floor exceeds 0.5 metres in height; the combined height of the deck and any wall, fence balustrade or handrail exceeds 2.5 metres; or the dwelling house is within a Conservation Area; or it would be within or bound the curtilage of a listed building. Planning permission will always be required for flats. For a property specific answer, please contact us

Do I need planning permission to plant trees?

No, you do not need to apply for planning permission in order to plant trees, but take care you are not planting in the vicinity where growing trees could damage foundations or deprive your neighbours of light

Do I need to have both a planning application and a building warrant?

Planning applications and building warrants are guided by different legislation. A building warrant relates to construction and insulation matters etc, whereas planning permission tends to deal with design aesthetics and the external appearance. Please contact us on 03000 200 292 or visit us at the Ground Floor (left) reception in Marischal College, for further advice

How is planning permission enforced?

Development undertaken without planning permission, alterations to listed buildings without consent, or the failure to comply with conditions of a planning permission can result in the Council serving an Enforcement Notice or Breach of Condition Notice. Failure to comply with the requirements of such a notice may result in the Council taking direct action to resolve a breach. For further information: Planning Enforcement

How can I check if there are any new planned developments in my area?

To find out if there are any new planned developments in your area please contact us on 03000 200 292, visit us at the Ground Floor (left) reception in Marischal College or consult the Aberdeen Local Plan: Aberdeen Local Development Plan

Development Plan

What is a Development Plan?

The term 'development plan' is a collective term for two types of plan: Strategic Development Plan and Local Development Plan. Local authorities have a legal duty to prepare a development plan, which becomes the main considerations against which planning applications are determined

What is a Strategic Development Plan?

Strategic development plans are broad-brush strategic documents which generally cover larger areas than a local development plan and are not so specific. They are approved by the Scottish Ministers

What is a Local Development Plan?

The Local Development Plan is specific to a particular geographic area and consists of a suitably detailed map and a written statement setting out in appropriate detail the authority's proposals for development and land use

Where can I see a copy of the Local Development Plan?

At the Ground Floor (left) in Marischal College, your local library and online: Aberdeen Local Development Plan

How can I buy a copy of the Local Development Plan?

You can buy a copy of the Local Development Plan at the Ground Floor (left) reception in Marischal College for 25 or a CD for 5. Alternatively you can call 03000 200 292 to request a copy to be sent to you for 30 including posting and packaging

Tree Management

If I see work being carried out on a protected tree, who should I contact to find out if permission has been granted to carry out the work?

Please contact the Tree Information Officer on 01224 522440 and for more information: Tree Protection Information

Who is responsible for looking after trees?

Owners of the land that the tree grows on are responsible for the tree, so if the council owns the land that the tree grows on then the council is responsible for the maintenance of the tree

Do I need the Council's permission before I cut down or prune trees?

The Council's permission is required if the tree or trees are the subject of statutory protection. If the tree is covered by a Tree Preservation Order, is within one of the city's designated Conservation Areas or is subject of a condition of planning consent then permission is required from the Council before any work can be carried out to the tree or trees. Before carrying out any tree work check with the Council to see if the tree or trees are protected. In addition, in certain circumstances a Felling License maybe required from the Forestry Commission

Can the Council help lop and remove trees from my garden?

If you are a council tenant a request should be made through your Local Housing Office. No assistance can be given to private tenants, though advice can be given

There is a large tree overhanging the road. Who should I report it to?

Please contact the Tree Information Officer on 01224 522440 for further information

Are my trees protected?

Please contact the Tree Information Officer on 01224 522440 and we will let you know if your trees are protected

Tree Preservation Orders (TPO)

Does a TPO only cover individual trees?

No, a TPO can cover not only individual trees, but also groups of trees and woodland

What can happen to me if I carry out work on a protected tree without permission?

It is an offence under The Town and Country Planning (Scotland) Act to do work to or damage a protected tree without the Council's consent. Offences are reported to Procurator Fiscal and if a protected tree is damaged and/or destroyed without the Council's permission, the owner or person carrying out the work may be prosecuted and fined up to 20,000 per tree. A replacement tree or trees will also have to be planted

What is a TPO?

A TPO is a device used by Planning Authorities to protect existing trees or woodland in the interest of amenity because the Council considers they contribute to the area. It means you are not allowed to lop or prune a tree with a TPO unless you have obtained permission from the Council

Do I always need permission to work on a tree that is protected under a TPO?

Yes, any tree protected by a TPO cannot be lopped, topped or felled without permission

How can I find out if a tree is covered by a TPO?

Please contact the Tree Information Officer on 01224 522440 and for more information: Tree Protection Information

How will I know when the Planning Authority makes a TPO?

You will be notified if you are the owner of the property which is subject to a new TPO and they will be advertised in the local paper

Conservation Areas

How can I find out about conservation areas?

Conservation areas are defined and described here: Conservation Area Guidance and Advice

Listed Buildings

Are there any special rules for changing or altering the windows in a listed building?

It is necessary to obtain listed building consent to replace or alter windows. For more information:  Listed Buildings Guidance and Advice

How can I find out if a property is listed?

This can be found on Historic Scotland's web-site:  Historic Scotland - Listed Buildings Search

Where are the criteria for getting a building Listed?

Historic Scotland is responsible for listing buildings of special architectural or historic interest

What are the effects of listing a building?

Any alterations (external and internal) or additions to a listed building that affect its character or appearance will require an application for listed building consent


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