Planning Advice on Short-Term Lets

Information on Planning in relation to the Short-Term Let License.

Short-Term Let Control Areas

In addition to licencing requirements, Scottish Government have given planning authorities powers to designate Short-Term Let Control Areas. These are a discretionary planning power that have been introduced to manage high concentrations of secondary lettings by restricting or preventing short term lets that affect the availability of residential housing and the character of the local community. Control areas can also help local authorities ensure that homes are used to best effect in their areas.

A Short-Term Let Control Area is not a ban on short term lets but is instead intended to allow planning authorities to use planning policies to assess applications which would involve the use of a dwellinghouse for short-term letting and allow communities and individuals the right to make representations through the planning application process.

Further information on Short-Term Let Control Areas

There are no Short-Term Let Control Areas currently designated or proposed within Argyll and Bute although this position is intended to be reviewed during 2023/24.

Please note that planning authorities could designate control areas after a premises has already obtained a short-term let licence. Licence holders will be given a reasonable opportunity to comply with the mandatory condition by submitting a planning application or application for a Certificate of Lawful Use or Development (CLUD) as soon as possible after the control area is designated. If a CLUD or planning permission is refused, this may result in the licence being refused, varied or revoked as appropriate

Requirement for Planning Permission for Short Term-Lets Outwith Control Areas

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). In a Control Area the use of a dwellinghouse (including flats) as short term let (secondary letting) will always be material and therefore require planning permission.

Although planning legislation in relation to Short Term Lets outwith a Control Area has not changed, the introduction of a formal definition of “Short Term Let” within the Licensing Act has indirectly affected the existing situation, as has the development, over time, of case law on short term lets.

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 following information is only provided as a guide:

New Buildings or Structures

Generally, any new buildings or structures (including portable buildings such as chalets or pods) 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.

Change of Use of Existing Buildings or Structures

Deciding if planning permission is required to change 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 may not be required to use it as a short term let.

The Planning Authority will consider, on a case-by-case basis, whether proposals 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 house in rural area, 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 in an urban area. 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 this is expected to be the prevalent outcome if single household occupancy levels are maintained.

Home Sharing / Bed & Breakfast

Use Class 9 (dwellinghouses) of the Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) (Scotland) Order 1997 permits use as a bed and breakfast establishment or guesthouse, where at any one time not more than two bedrooms are used for that purpose, or not more than one bedroom in the case of premises having fewer than four bedrooms

This continues to apply if the property is in a Control Area.

Further Guidance:

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 Council’s Pre-Application Enquiry Service. Please note that this is a chargeable service and that whilst the webform has not yet been updated to include a ‘short-term let’ category an enquiry can still be submitted by identifying the development as a single change of use proposal (see example screenshot below) and providing a suitable description of the development proposed.

Formal Decision Required:

Hosts/Operators who require a formal decision from the Council confirming the planning status of their premises are advised to either submit an application for planning permission (new/existing development operating for less than 10 years), or a certificate of lawful development (existing development operating continuously for a period exceeding 10 years). Applications can be submitted online

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