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‘Major’ developments explained

Any proposal for development of 50 or more houses or a site of more than 2 hectares, is classified as a ‘major’ development. To help visualise this – an international rugby field is very close to 1 hectare.

Unlike smaller developments, an application for a major development requires  the applicant to carry out a consultation with the local community before submitting an application. Decisions on all major applications will also be made by the National Park’s Board or Planning and Access Committee.

Learn more about how major developments are defined and read our Glossary of Terms.



  • Step 1: Pre-application notice
  • Step 2: Pre-application consultation
  • Step 3: Application submitted
  • Step 4: Review and decision

The Planning Process for Major Applications


A prospective applicant informs us that they want to make an application

If someone (we call them a ‘prospective applicant’) intends to submit a planning application for a major development in the near future, they will give us (as the Planning Authority for the National Park) formal notification via something called a ‘Proposal of Application Notice’ (you may sometimes hear this being shortened to a ‘PAN’). This notice has to include details of how the applicant intends to consult with the local community and share their proposals with them.

When the Planning Authority receives a Proposal of Application Notice, a planning officer will review the information submitted and ensure it meets the minimum consultation requirements set out by the Scottish Government.  Depending on the scale, nature and location of the proposal, we may also request that the applicant carries out additional consultation activities


The applicant consults with the local community

The Pre-planning Application Consultation is when the applicant puts all those ideas about consulting with the local community into action.  The community get the opportunity to tell the applicant what they think of their development proposals and ask any questions they might have.  Anyone can comment on the proposals during the Pre-planning Application Consultation period – you do not have to live directly beside the site of the proposal.

The results of this consultation will be compiled in a pre-application consultation report, which must accompany any planning application for a major development. The report will set out the level of community consultation undertaken, the issues raised by the community and the extent to which the applicants’ proposals have changed as a result of community engagement.


The planning application is submitted

We have 4 months to consider a planning application for a major development (unless an extension of time is agreed). If you live within 20 metres of any of the application site area you will get a formal notification in the post that we are in receipt of the planning application and will explain where you can find more information and how to comment/share your views about the proposals.  The application will be advertised in the local newspapers too.  Anyone can submit comments in relation to a planning application and these will be considered as part of the assessment of the application.


We consider the application and make a recommendation for decision

Once we have considered all the information submitted including the advice received from consultees such as the local roads authority and all public comments, the planning case officer will make a recommendation to our Board members to either approve or refuse the application.  The Authority’s Board or Planning and Access Committee (made up by members of our Board) will then make a decision on the application at a meeting in public. If you have submitted comments on the application then we will notify you in advance of the meeting so that you can make arrangements to come along. You can request to speak at the meeting – provided you have formally commented on the application.

How do we make decisions about planning applications?

Once the application is registered, it is assigned to a case officer in our planning team. From this point, we have 4 months to consider the application (less for smaller applications).

Our planning officer will review and take account of the pre-application consultation report as well as comments on the application and advice received from consultees, such as the local roads authority. We will also assess the application against the planning policies and guidance set out in our Local Development Plan.

The planning case officer will then make a recommendation to our Board members to either approve or refuse the application.

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