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Planning processing agreements

What is a planning processing agreement?

A planning processing agreement is a project management tool. It sets out the key processes involved in determining a planning application, identifying what information is required from all stakeholders involved, and setting timescales for the delivery of various stages of the process.

The advantages of using a processing agreement includes:

  • Greater transparency in decision-making for everyone involved in the process
  • Greater predictability and certainty over the timing of key stages
  • Faster decision-making
  • Clearer lines of communication between authority and applicant
  • More effective and earlier engagement of key stakeholders such as consultees

What type of application is an agreement suitable for?

Although we welcome pre-application discussions on all types of application, a formal processing agreement is most appropriate for major applications or for local developments that are complex or likely to be contentious. They can be used for detailed applications, planning permission in principle or for approval of matters specified in conditions.
Content of a planning processing agreement
The main purpose of the agreement is to provide clarity to all parties involved in the determination of the application of their responsibilities and to establish realistic timescales for processing the application.

As such, the processing agreement will cover the following:

  • Key contacts in the process
  • Pre-application stage
  • Information required to determine the application
  • Application processing timetable
  • Consultees and other stakeholders
  • Legal agreements and financial contributions (where required)
  • Issue of decision
  • Discharge of conditions

The Scottish Government has prepared a processing agreement template which will be used as the basis for any agreement.  It is not intended to be a lengthy document and will clearly set out the key stages in the process and realistic timescales for meeting these.

When can a processing agreement be set up?

Pre-application discussion between developers and ourselves is always welcomed.  The appropriateness of using a processing agreement should be raised with us at any initial meeting to discuss your proposal.
For more information contact our Planning and Building Standards office.