Stop Repeat Applications

Repeat applications are seen by many as a way in which developers try to wear down community and Local Authority opposition.

In being deemed ‘repeat’ by the Local Authority they are not considered materially different from the previous application that had been rejected. As there has been no material change I feel there is no reason why they should be accepted by the LA.

This practice clogs up the planning system with applications that have been rejected previously and in which no material changes have been made. It wastes the time of Councillors, planning departments and communities and can often be seen as an unethical practice of developers.

Why the contribution is important

This tactic is seen by many communities as a disincentive to engage with the planning system.

Repeat applications actively wear down opposition and as such are an effective tool that developers can use to misrepresent a community’s acceptance/approval of their plans.

In addition many local authorities do not use the powers available to them to refuse to determine repeat applications. Refusing to consider application can be seen as an act of aggression against developers, however for those who the planning system is meant to serve the tactic of submitting repeat applications can also be seen as an act of aggression.

Annex E of Development Management Procedures Circular 3/2013 addresses the issue of repeat applications. On September 10th 2015 this guidance was watered down and as such there is now a loophole for developers to submit these repeat applications.

The original wording of the 03/2013 circular,  previous to 10/09/15, stated:

  • Section 39(1) contains discretionary powers for planning authorities to decline to determine repeat planning applications. As well as powers where the Scottish Ministers have, within the previous 2 years, refused permission on a similar application 9 on call-in or appeal against either refusal or on grounds of non-determination (section 39(1)(a)), there are now powers where no such decision has been made by Ministers. This is to prevent applicants submitting repeated applications for the same development, where either no appeal has been made or has been made but not determined against a previous refusal.

This wording allowed Local Authorities to refuse applications if any materially similar application had been submitted within the previous 2 years, irrespective of whether or not an appeal had been made, or determined.

The new wording however states:

  • Section 39(1) contains discretionary powers for planning authorities to decline to determine repeat planning applications. Where Scottish Ministers have, within the previous 2 years, refused permission on a similar application[29] on call-in or appeal (section 39(1)(a)) and, in the opinion of the planning authority, there has been no significant change in the relevant parts of the development plan or other material considerations since that decision, the planning authority can refuse to deal with the application.
  • The same discretionary power applies where more than one similar application has been made in the previous 2 years and no appeal has been made or has been made but not determined. In these cases the above criterion relating to changes in the development plan or other material considerations relates to the period since the most recent refusal (or deemed refusal[30]) of a similar application.

The amended wording added a loophole, if developers have an application rejected, they can submit 1 “free” repeat application so long as they do not appeal the original decision, or appeal and withdraw before the appeal has been determined.

Given the effect of repeat applications in clogging up the planning system, wasting public money and disenfranchising and systematically wearing down opposition the guidance and powers should be as robust as possible.

In watering down the powers available to Local Authorities the Government appears to have given a stamp of approval to the practice of submitting 1 x repeat application, as per the allowance in the new guidance.

It would be in the best interest of the planning system as a whole to reinstate the original powers in order to ensure repeat applications are not used as a “go to” tactic by developers to wear down opposition, in turn wasting the time and money of local authorities and disenfranchising communities.

by MikeAdams on January 29, 2016 at 01:46PM

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Average score : 4.5
Based on : 18 votes


  • Posted by kdonnelly February 04, 2016 at 09:27

    I would support this point. I would like repeat applications to be discouraged unless considerable amendments have been made to the application from the advice and reasoning given in the decision notice.
  • Posted by Celestewc February 19, 2016 at 17:16

    Developments currently get through by grinding down the community with repeat applications until it gets through. It shouldn't be this way.
  • Posted by irc February 21, 2016 at 16:15

    I support the proposal for the reintroduction of the earlier & tighter guidance and would suggest that the current situation is just one of many examples of a watering down of planning guidance imposed by Government in pursuit of excessive expectations of further house building, the actual need for which is far from justified.
  • Posted by kb21182 February 28, 2016 at 20:21

    I support this proposal.
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