July 2022

Building Standards

2022 – Technical Handbook Changes

New building standards technical handbook guidance has recently been introduced which now require a building warrant application to be made for any work to install or replace existing cladding to buildings, with the exception of carrying out minor repairs.

This revision to the handbook came into effect on 1 June 2022, with applications submitted from that date being subject to the new guidance.  The new revision to the guidance also includes a ban on highly combustible metal composite material panels in new building work, and a ban on the use combustible materials in external wall cladding systems on dwellings and other defined ‘relevant buildings’ with a storey height of 11m or more.

These changes are part of several that have been made as a result of the setting up of the Building and Fire Safety Ministerial Working Group.  This group had commissioned research into improving fire safety in buildings following the Grenfell Tower Fire in 2017.

More information on the June changes to the Technical Handbooks is available on the Scottish Government website

In addition to the changes introduced in June, further amendments are scheduled to Section 3 (environment), Section 6 (energy) and Section 7 (sustainability) which will apply from 1 December 2022.  These changes to the Technical Handbook have been published and are also available on the Scottish Government website along with a summary of the changes.

Development Plan and Marine Planning

Development Plan Scheme

The Comhairle has recently approved and will publish online its Development Plan Scheme (DPS). The DPS is the annual statement setting out the ongoing work programme to deliver and maintain the Development Plan.  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. 

There will be two work streams running in the current year – work to maintain and keep up to date the current Development Plan, and secondly preparatory work under for the new Development Plan under legislation emanating from the 2019 Planning Act.

Outer Hebrides Development Plan

Following the adoption of the Outer Hebrides Local Development Plan (LDP) in November 2018, the Development Plan team has put in place a monitoring framework to assess the operation and usefulness of the new Development Plan.

Under the 2019 Planning Act there is a new process for preparing and engaging on a new LDP. Formal regulations on this are still to be finalised, however the LDP is moving to a 10-year Plan cycle with scope for interim reviews of elements of the Plan. Other new aspects of the Development Plan that the Comhairle is likely to engage on include scope for communities to prepare Local Place Plans, which subject to content and preparation processes could be reflected in the LDP.

The Development Plan team has initiated preparatory work on the new Local Development Plan. This will be prepared under the 2019 Planning Act, for which the Development Plan regulations are still being finalised. However, work on the Evidence report stage, information auditing and gathering and other initial assessments will be progressed. The Team will be publishing information on how communities can contribute to further to the Development Plan process through Local Place Plans in due course.  In the meantime, there is more information available on the Scottish Government website.

Conservation Area Grants – Buildings and Painting Grant Schemes

The Comhairle administers a series of grant schemes applicable to the four conservation areas in the Outer Hebrides:  Stornoway; Gearrannan; Ruisgarry; and Howmore.  These schemes aim to offset the additional costs associated with works specific to the conservation area.  Further information on these schemes and the conditions that apply is available online.  Potential applicants are encouraged to speak with the Planning Service before submitting an application, with regards to eligibility and any necessary planning consents.

Thatching Grant Scheme

Due to its perishable nature, a traditional Scottish Thatched roof will rapidly deteriorate unless it is regularly maintained.  Historic Environment Scotland encourages owners of historic and traditional thatched buildings to maintain and repair them by providing grants for the maintenance of thatched roofs under the Historic Environment Support Fund, which is administered by the Comhairle, within the Outer Hebrides.  The scheme provides grant funding to meet a proportion of the cost of repairing and maintaining traditional roof structures.  This can include re-thatching, replacement of topcoats, repairs and associated minor works to roofing divots and roof timbers.  Information on the grant and eligibility is available online or you can contact Hannah Morrison by email hmorrison@cne-siar.gov.uk

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

Development Management


Mike Scott, Planning Officer based in Lewis is to retire and will be leaving the Comhairle at the end of August 2022.  We wish Mike a long and healthy retirement and acknowledge his contribution, particularly on heritage casework, while he has been with the team.  A recruitment exercise to appoint a successor is in progress but it is not likely that we will have a new officer in post for some months.

Pre-planning advice

The Comhairle Planning Service has developed an online Pre-Application Planning Advice Form to elicit as much information as possible at the outset of an enquiry.  This indicates the level of detail we require to provide better quality advice on a proposal.  Further details can be found on our Contacting the Planning Service (Development Management) – Pre-Application Advice and General contact page

The demand for pre-application advice remains high and it remains a challenge to service the demand given there is still a backlog of applications, and this discretionary service cannot be prioritised over the determination of formal applications made to the Comhairle.

Validation Guidance

Validation failure on first submission remains a challenge.  We appeal to developers and agents to carry out a more robust check of their applications prior to submission.  The Comhairle is working with the national standards for the validation and determination of planning applications and other related consents in Scotland (1.6MB) and we request that agents please make themselves familiar with the standards.  We will write further on this issue under separate cover in August 2022.

Major and National Development – pre-application consultation changes

The changes to the requirements for pre-application consultation with communities about national and major developments which were initially due to come into force on 1 October 2021 were deferred further and will now come into force on 1 October 2022.  The Town and Country Planning (Pre-Application Consultations) (Scotland) Regulations 2021 (the Regulations) amend the existing detailed statutory requirements for Pre-application Consultation (PAC) which apply to major and national developments.  They also specify criteria for exemptions from PAC requirements, made under powers introduced by the Planning (Scotland) Act 2019.

The changes to PAC are the first part of a wider package of measures on improving community engagement in planning matters and building public trust.

Various transitional arrangements will apply, arising from the transition from the old to the new regulations (as is typical) but also from initial and more recent Coronavirus modifications.  The transitional arrangements are therefore complex but can be viewed online.

Briefly, the new Regulations provide for a minimum of two physical public events to be held at least 14 days apart with feedback on comments received at the first event to be provided at the second event.  The information which the public can obtain is to be made available electronically as well as in physical format.  The events require to be promoted via statutory press notices and the content of the resultant PAC Report will now be a statutory requirement.

Developers of major or national developments are encouraged to engage with the Planning Service for guidance at an early date in their project planning.

Planning fee increase

The Scottish Government issued revised fee scales came into force on 1 April 2022.  This was the first major review of fees in 8 years.

The ePlanning.Scot Fee Calculator was updated to reflect the new fee scales.  The Government has also just released the updated Circular which provides detail on the interpretation of the Regulations.

EIA Development

Many of the Coronavirus Temporary Modifications were extended to 30 September 2022.  However, these extended provisions do not now allow for EIA Reports to be hosted online only.  All EIA applications must now once again be supported by paper copies to be hosted at a Comhairle Office and a Public Library.

Performance Information

Building Standards

For Quarter 3 of 2021/22 (01 Oct – 31 Dec), 88% of Building Warrants were responded to within 15 days and 91% of warrants were issued within 6 days.  In terms of Certificates of Completion, 87% were responded to within 9 days.  The target for these indicators is 85% in each case.

For Quarter 4 of 2021/22 (01 Jan – 30 Apr), 92% of Building Warrants were responded to within 15 days and 89% 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.

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.

The Comhairle Planning Performance Framework, which shows the Performance of the Planning Service and areas for improvement, is available online.

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.

Contact Information

Building Standards

Email:  cnes_buildingstandards@cne-siar.gov.uk
Tel (Stornoway):  01851 822692 
Tel (Balivanich):  01870 604990

Development Management

Email:  planning@cne-siar.gov.uk
Tel (Stornoway):  01851 822690
Tel (Balivanich):  01870 604990

Development Plan and Marine Planning

Email:  localdevplan@cne-siar.gov.uk
Tel (Stornoway):  01851 822690
Tel (Balivanich):  01870 604990