Do I need planning permission to use my house/flat as a short-term let?
Planning permission is required for all ‘development’. The meaning of ‘development’ is set out in Section 26 of the Town and Country Planning (Scotland) Act 1997 (as amended). The definition of development includes a material change of use of land or buildings, even if there are no physical alterations to the land or building.
It is important to note that if a premises meets the definition of a Short-Term Let under the Licensing Act and requires a Licence, it does not automatically require planning permission for the use as a short term let. It is for the Planning Authority to decide if the use of the premises as a short term let is/was a ‘material’ change of use (see below).
From a licencing perspective outwith a Control Area, planning permission is not required to grant a licence. It is the operator’s responsibility to ensure they have the appropriate planning permission in place, and the determination as to whether planning permission is required lies with the Planning Authority.
The four Councils as the licensing authorities across the National Park, will consult us on all applications for Short Term Let Licences within the National Park area and we will advise them of the need (or otherwise) for planning permission in each case.
You do not need to obtain proof of planning permission from the National Park prior to making your licence application. However, if you have supporting information/documentation (such as a Decision Notice) then you should submit this.
New Buildings or Structures
Generally, any proposed new buildings or structures (including portable buildings such as chalets, caravans or pods) that are to be erected, or sited, on land for the purposes of short term lets will require planning permission.
Proposals for new or converted garden buildings or structures (eg. Garages, sheds, extensions, pods etc) for use as short term lets will not benefit from householder permitted development rights and will require planning permission.
Home Sharing (inc. Bed & Breakfast)
Use Class 9 (dwellinghouses) of the Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) (Scotland) Order 1997 permits shared use of a home as a bed and breakfast establishment where at any one time not more than two bedrooms, or not more than one bedroom in the case of premises having fewer than four bedrooms, are used for that purpose.
A residential property where 3 or more bedrooms are let for this purpose would fall within Use Class 7 (Guesthouse) rather than Class 9 and this would generally require planning permission. Class 9 does not allow subdivision (I.e., the use of any part of the dwelling as a separate house) so where self-catering accommodation is provided within an existing house, planning permission will generally be required.
Change of Use of Existing Buildings or Structures (including the use of whole homes/flats)
Deciding if planning permission is required to change the whole of an existing property into a short term let can be complex, particularly in relation to existing residential properties.
Where the existing property is not residential accommodation or existing tourist accommodation, it is likely that planning permission will be required to change its use to a short term let.
Where the existing property is residential accommodation or existing tourist accommodation, planning permission is not generally required to use it as a short term let.
However, although infrequent, there are some cases where the need for permission to use a residential property for short term let is not clear cut. The Planning Authority will consider, on a case-by-case basis, whether proposals to use a property for holiday let would represent a material change of use and therefore require planning permission. Key considerations will be the likely impacts on immediate neighbours, the wider local amenity and infrastructure of the proposed use in the proposed location.
Examples of material considerations on the subject of Short Term Lets include:
- The type of the property (e.g. Flat / Detached Dwellinghouse / Semi or Terraced Dwellinghouse) and its relationship to its neighbours (e.g. substantial garden/shared access);
- The number of bedrooms;
- The number of guests staying (based on maximum capacity to be licensed);
- Their likelihood to be a single household;
- Frequency of arrivals and departures;
- Frequency and intensity of noisy or otherwise unsocial activities;
- The existing character and prevailing use of the area;
- Impact on public services and infrastructure such as parking, water supply, foul drainage and waste collection;
- Use of communal areas and shared access;
Although to be assessed on a case-by-case basis, it is considered that a detached used on a single household basis as a short term let is less likely to represent a material change of use than the use of a flat in a multiple unit building. However, use of a single house by multiple households on holiday together can also represent a material change of use, context depending. Given the way the legislation has developed, it is not possible to generally conclude that the use of houses as short term lets will not be material and the use of flats will be material, but in general it is expected that no material change of use is likely to occur if appropriate household occupancy levels are maintained.
Informal Advice Required:
Hosts/Operators requiring property specific guidance on the requirement for planning permission for the change of use of an existing dwelling are advised to submit their enquiry via the National Park’s Pre-Application Enquiry Service. Please note that this is a free service and we aim to respond within 21 days (although this is not always possible as we must prioritise planning applications).
Formal Decision Required:
Hosts/Operators who require a formal decision from the National Park Authority confirming the planning status of their premises are advised to either submit an application for planning permission (for new/existing development operating for less than 10 years), or a certificate of lawful development (for existing development operating continuously for a period exceeding 10 years). Applications can be submitted online. Fees apply.