July 2021

Building Standards 

Site Inspections

As restrictions are eased, going forward this year, we hope to be able to offer a near normal level of service in terms of site inspections.  However, safety measures and risk assessments, although reduced, are likely to be with us for some time yet.

It is important that applicants, or other appropriate contact Building Standards to arrange an inspection at the appropriate time in accordance with the CCNP (Construction Compliance Notification Plan).  This is a document which is issued along with the building warrant approval and shows a schedule of stages of work (or actions) in the construction where the building standards officer should have opportunity to inspect the work in order to assist with verification of compliance with building regulations.  These stages of the work are usually where the work will be covered up and no further inspection would be possible without intrusive investigation.

If it is found not to be possible, for whatever reason, to schedule a site inspection at a scheduled CCNP stage or any other critical time, then it may be acceptable to use photographic evidence to demonstrate compliance.  Alternatively, in some instances, and where the relevant person or the applicant has the means available, it may be appropriate to participate in a video call with a building standards officer.  The idea being that the person on the site can use the camera on their device to target specific areas of the building work being carried out, as directed, whilst going round the site.  Where this can be viewed by the Building Standards Officer it may provide sufficient evidence to demonstrate compliance.

For further information on inspection protocols or to arrange an inspection please speak to the appropriate area officer.

Staff News

Donald Thomson, Senior Building Standards Officer, who was the longest serving officer in the building standards team, took the decision to retire from the Comhairle earlier this year.  The last day of Donald’s employment with the Comhairle was 30 June 2021.

Donald worked latterly from the Spornis building in Lionel and his area responsibility covered Ness and the West Side up to Breasclete.  We extend our best wishes to Donald and hope that he enjoys his well earned retirement.

Development Plan and Marine Planning

Development Plan Scheme

The Comhairle has recently approved and published online its 2021 Development Plan Scheme (Opens in a new window or downloads a file) (DPS). The DPS is the annual statement setting out the ongoing work programme to deliver and maintain the Development Plan (Opens in a new window or downloads a file).  The DPS also sets out how the Development Plan team will seek to engage and consult with the public and stakeholders on any relevant pieces of Development Plan work including draft Supplementary Guidance with the current Covid restrictions in place.  The DPS notes the ongoing work emanating from the Planning Act particularly related to Development Planning and working towards a new Local Development Plan.

Outer Hebrides Local Development Plan Supplementary Guidance

Supplementary Guidance (Opens in a new window or downloads a file) which forms part of the Development Plan provides more detailed or technical policy on some areas of development and can be statutory or non-statutory.  Whilst new national policy will be published later this year in the draft National Planning Framework 4, incorporating Scottish Planning Policy, this will not come into force until later into 2022, so interim draft updates of existing policy have been published for consultation.

There are currently two draft Supplementary Guidances out for public consultation (Opens in a new window or downloads a file) with comments sought by Friday 13th August 2021.

The first consultation is an expansion and update of the current Caravans and Temporary Building Supplementary Guidance.  In addition to updating the Guidance to reflect new or amended legislation, regulation or policy, there have been a number of key amendments:

  • the inclusion of policy for ‘Recreational Huts’ is a new consideration for Planning introduced by Scottish Planning Policy following a public campaign to revitalise the ‘hutting culture’ in Scotland. Provision for ‘huts’ was introduced in the LDP in 2018 where a definition was provided along with direction that it must be in keeping with the low impact, ecologically sustainable and affordable ethos of ‘hutting’. The draft Guidance provides further detail on use, siting, design, materials, access and parking, servicing, landscaping and flooding. Recreational Huts are only permitted in ‘Outwith Settlement’ areas and are only for ‘intermittent recreational use’ by the owner and their commercial use for holiday letting is not permitted under this policy.
  • The second key amendment is the revision of the Holiday Caravans policy to reflect the recent increase in the demand for and types of holiday accommodation which fall under this category, in particular ‘Pods’ and ‘Tourism Caravan and Camping sites’. The aim of these revised policies is to facilitate growth in this sector through sensitive and unobtrusive development without compromise of the amenity and environment.  The policies have been amended to provide further detail on: siting; design; material; landscape; flooding; waste disposal and car parking.
  • Thirdly, a number of policies in the existing Guidance did not mention flood risk or had outdated guidance in this regard. The policies have now been updated in line with SEPA’s latest guidance and advice regarding flood risk.”

The second consultation is an update to the current Guidance for Wind Energy Development, covering all scales of onshore wind turbines. Whilst there are no significant policy changes the document has been updated for references, stakeholder policy updated and distinct policies on Repowering and Decommissioning separated out and expanded.  In addition, the Guidance has been improved for readability and the constraints and other considerations map (Map 2) separated into two maps.  There is no change to the principles of the spatial strategy for wind farms.

The draft Supplementary Guidances and supporting maps for consultation can be viewed online (Opens in a new window or downloads a file) along with a representation form (Opens in a new window or downloads a file) to capture your comments.

The existing Supplementary Guidances remain the statutory policy, however the published draft consultation Guidances are a material consideration when considering and assessing new development.

Housing Land Audit

In line with legislation the Comhairle has prepared a new Housing Land Audit (Opens in a new window or downloads a file).  This seeks to identify and assess potential sites to accommodate house building, throughout the islands.  The Housing Land Audit (Opens in a new window or downloads a file) will be available to view as excel sheet or through a more interactive map based tool from mid July.

For further information on any Development Plan matters please contact the Development Plan and Marine Planning team on 01851 822690 or e-mail localdevplan@cne-siar.gov.uk.  Email is the most direct method of communication currently as all officers are working remotely from home.

Development Management

Service continuity - office based working and meetings

The staff of the Service largely continue to work from home although a partial return to office working is anticipated in the autumn.  However, some safety measures are likely to remain and preference is to meet customers via Microsoft Teams or in certain cases subject to safety protocols on-site.  Planning staff are undertaking site visits as normal.

In the meantime telephone calls to the Service remain routed to a voice mailbox and are forwarded to staff who are using their own phones to return calls.  All staff have Microsoft Teams and subject to priority being given to live applications, can schedule either voice or video calls to discuss projects.  You do not need to have a Microsoft account to join a call.  An email address and smartphone or tablet are all that you require.

The Comhairle is likely to return to live meetings in the Comhairle chamber for the Comhairle committee series scheduled for September 2021.  Further information will be available via press release closer to the time. 

July and August

A number of staff are off on annual leave over the months of July and August.  Please bear with us as it may take a little longer to get back to you than is ideal.


As advised in the last bulletin, there have been some changes to the staffing of the Development Management Team over the past year.  Anne Napier joined us in March 2020 and Mairi MacKinnon retired from the Service in May 2020.

Alastair Banks, also retired and finished work with us in early August 2020.  This post has been vacant for almost a year but we have now recruited another planner Michael Scott, who joins us from Historic Environment Scotland.

In order to make best use of the knowledge and expertise across the team, it has been agreed that Anne Napier will relocate to Uist to take up the post vacated by Alastair and Mike Scott will take up post in Stornoway.  We look forward to welcoming Mike to the Service.

Pre-planning advice 

The Comhairle Planning Service has always been keen for developers to seek pre-planning advice on proposals likely to come forward for formal planning.  However, the volume of enquiries over the past year has placed unsustainable demands on the staff of the Service.  As the priority of the Service requires to be the assessment and determination of applications already made we have made some temporary changes to our advice service.

We will continue to work to develop and evolve our pre-application service.  To that end we have developed an on-line Pre-Application Planning Advice Form.  It is designed to elicit as much information as possible at the outset of the enquiry as the more information you provide, the more relevant the advice provided can be.

Further details can be found on our Contacting the Planning Service (Development Management) – Pre-Application Advice and General contact page (Opens in a new window or downloads a file).

Stornoway – Scottish Gas Networks (SGN)

Scottish Gas Networks have alerted Planning Authorities across Scotland of the risks associated with building over gas mains.  As Permitted Rights have allowed more scope for householders to develop extensions and buildings within a rear curtilage, the incidence of this has increased.

The following information has been issued by SGN for communication to agents and developers

“There are a number of risks created by built over gas mains and services; these are:

  • Pipework loading – pipes are at risk from loads applied by the new structure and are more susceptible to interference damage.
  • Gas entry into buildings – pipework proximity increases risk of gas entry in buildings. Leaks arising from previous external pipework able to track directly into main building from unsealed entry.
  • Occupier safety – lack or no fire resistance of pipework, fittings, or meter installation. Means of escape could be impeded by an enclosed meter.

Please note therefore, if you plan to dig, or carry out building work to a property, site or public highway within an area served by the SGN gas network, you must:

  1. Check your proposals against the information held at Linesearch (Opens in a new window or downloads a file) to assess any risk associated with your development and;
  2. Contact the SGN Plant Protection team to let them know. Plant location enquiries must be made via email, but you can phone SGN with general plant protection queries. Contact details: phone 0800 912 1722 / Email plantlocation@sgn.co.uk

In the event of an overbuild on a gas network, the pipework must be altered, leading to temporary disconnection. Note also: Your insurance may be invalidated.”

Permitted Development Rights

A number of changes were made to Permitted Development Rights in Scotland with effect from 1 April 2021.  These included new permissions for Digital Telecommunications Infrastructure, Agriculture and Forestry developments, Peatland restoration, support for Active travel and the Aquaculture industry. The Scottish Government has published further information in a Policy Note (Opens in a new window or downloads a file) available alongside the Statutory Instrument SSI 2020/437 - The Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development and Use Classes) (Scotland) Amendment Order 2020.

The Scottish Government also updated and published on 1 April 2021, updated guidance on Householder Permitted Development rights (Opens in a new window or downloads a file).

Customer Survey

The Comhairle Planning Service customer satisfaction questionnaire (Opens in a new window or downloads a file) is available through Survey Monkey Copies can also be collected at Comhairle offices or just contact us if you would like us to send you a copy.  Your comments help us to improve the service we provide.  The Planning Service customer survey results (Opens in a new window or downloads a file) are published on the Comhairle website. 

The Comhairle Planning Performance Framework, which shows the Performance of the Planning Service (Opens in a new window or downloads a file) and areas for improvement, is available online.

Performance Information

Building Standards

For Quarter 1 of 2020/21 (01 Apr – 30 June)

96% of Building Warrants were responded to within 15 days and 90% of warrants were issued within 6 days.  In terms of Certificates of Completion, 91% were responded to within 9 days.  The target for these indicators is 85% in each case.

For Quarter 2 of 2020/21 (01 July – 30 Sept)

89% of Building Warrants were responded to within 15 days and 97% of warrants were issued within 6 days.  In terms of Certificates of Completion, 76% were responded to within 9 days.  The target for these indicators is 85% in each case.

For Quarter 3 of 2020/21 (01 Oct – 31 Dec)

90% of Building Warrants were responded to within 15 days and 92% of warrants were issued within 6 days.  In terms of Certificates of Completion, 86% were responded to within 9 days.  The target for these indicators is 85% in each case.

For Quarter 4 of 2020/21 (01 Jan – 31 Mar)

96% of Building Warrants were responded to within 15 days and 97% of warrants were issued within 6 days.  In terms of Certificates of Completion, 95% were responded to within 9 days.  The target for these indicators is 85% in each case.

In summary

For the financial year 2020/21, as a whole, the average figures were as follows:

  • Warrants responded to within 15 days – 92.84%
  • Warrants issued within 6 days – 94.15%
  • Certificates of Completion responded to within 9 days – 86.98%

Development Management

The Scottish Government has issued its summary of Planning Performance by the Comhairle in the context of Scottish Planning Authorities.  Statistical bulletins give the Latest Information on Planning Authority Performance (Opens in a new window or downloads a file).

Online Resources

We would remind and encourage developers to make best use of on-line resources for generic queries thus minimising the draw on the time of local officers.

Preparation of Planning Applications: Validation and Determination Guidance  (») (Opens in a new window or downloads a file) 

Submitting Planning Applications:  ePlanning.scot (Opens in a new window or downloads a file)

Viewing Planning Applications:  Comhairle Public Access (Opens in a new window or downloads a file)

Comhairle Planning Service

Scottish Government Planning and Architecture (Opens in a new window or downloads a file)

Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) (Opens in a new window or downloads a file)

Planning Aid for Scotland (PAS) (Opens in a new window or downloads a file)

Historic Environment Scotland (HES) (Opens in a new window or downloads a file)

NatureScot (Opens in a new window or downloads a file)

Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) (Opens in a new window or downloads a file)

Marine Scotland (Marine and Fisheries) (Opens in a new window or downloads a file)

Scottish Water Connecting to Our Network (Opens in a new window or downloads a file)

Contact Details / Area Responsibilities

Building Standards

Planning Service

Contact Information

Building Standards


01851 822692 (Stornoway)
01870 604990 (Balivanich)

Development Management


01851 822690 (Stornoway)
01870 604990 (Balivanich

Development Plan and Marine Planning


01851 822690 (Stornoway)
01870 604990 (Balivanich)