Mobility and Access Committee for Scotland (MACS) – Consultation Response: Scottish Government Review of Permitted Development Rights Phase 2 Consultation


The Mobility and Access Committee for Scotland (MACS) is a non-departmental advisory public body. Within the founding legislation the Scottish Ministers have defined the overall aim for MACS as follows:

MACS will consider such matters relating to the needs of disabled persons in connection with transport as the Committee think appropriate and give advice to Scottish Ministers.”

MACS Strategic Remit

  • To give Scottish Ministers advice on aspects of policy, legislation and practice affecting the travel needs of disabled people.
  • To take account of the broad views and lived experiences of disabled people when giving advice.
  • To encourage awareness amongst disabled people in Scotland of developments, which affects their mobility, choices and opportunities.
  • To work closely with SG and ensure our work programme complements the work being undertaken by the Inclusive Mobility and Transport Committee (IMTAC), the Disabled Persons Transport Advisory Committee (DPTAC), the Scottish Human Rights Commission, the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) and other organisations, voluntary and statutory.
  • To promote the travel needs of disabled people with designers including transport planners and operators so that these are fully taken into account in the development of vehicles and infrastructure (including the first and last mile) and delivery of services.
  • To monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of our work against the above aims and objectives in improving travel opportunities for disabled people in Scotland.

As well as engagement with disabled people and collaboration with key stakeholders MACS takes opportunities to provide advice and guidance through using what we have heard and what we have learned and our shared knowledge within the Committee to respond to relevant consultations. We believe that the consultation on the Scottish Government Review of Permitted Development Rights Phase 2 Consultation fits within this scope.

According to the consultation document, Permitted Development Rights (PDR) refer to those forms of development which are granted planning permission through national legislation, meaning they can be carried out without an application for planning permission having to be submitted to and approved by the relevant planning authority. Specifically, PDR are contained within the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (Scotland) Order 1992 (“the GPDO”).

EV Charging Infrastructure

Question 1

Do you agree with the removal of restrictions on Class 9E PDR, for wall mounted EV charging outlets, in the specified areas currently listed in Class 9E(3)?

EV Charging infrastructure must be accessible to disabled motorists and the infrastructure associated with the charging must not introduce barriers. One way of ensuring that the facility is accessible is for conditions to be applied at the planning consent stage. MACS would therefore be concerned if permission was not required and any ad hoc conditions not able to be applied.

We would benefit from clarity and reassurance on what mechanisms will be in place to ensure that the EV charging infrastructure is accessible and does not introduce barriers.

Question 5

Do you agree with the proposed increase in height allowable for EV charging upstands under Class 9F PDR from 1.6 metres to 2.5 metres in all off-street parking locations, except within the curtilage of a dwelling?

MACS has no comment to make on the aesthetics of increasing the height allowable for EV charging upstands, however we would have concerns if this resulted in the operating mechanisms being raised / sited on a plinth and thereby becoming inaccessible for some disabled users.

Question 6/9

Do you agree with the proposal to introduce PDR for solar canopies and related battery storage and equipment housing for EV charging upstands in off-street parking areas?

MACS welcomes the introduction and use of solar panels within the EV charging infrastructure however, would suggest that it is critical to engage and ensure meaningful engagement and consultation with Disabled People’s Organisations and disabled motoring groups in relation to the heights required for some vehicles e.g. as electrification of vehicles expands will the canopy heights be able to accommodate vehicles with roof top boxes, wheelchair accessible vehicles or vans?

Another area of concern for MACS in relation to solar canopies is the associated infrastructure beneath the canopies. If the EV charging points are sited on plinths / mini pavement areas this results in the EV charging point being inaccessible for many users. What mechanisms will be in place to ensure that the EV charging infrastructure is accessible and does not introduce barriers?

Another area of concern relates to the surrounding infrastructure; e.g. seating / rest areas accessed via step(s) / single kerbs and sited on gravel surfaces. What mechanisms will be in place to ensure that the ancillary facilities will be accessible for everyone and does not introduce barriers?

On-street / Kerbside Charging

Question 11

Would it be helpful to amend Class 30 PDR for local authorities to make clear they apply to EV charging points and any associated infrastructure?

MACS acknowledges the reference to disabled people within the Equality Impact Assessment – “the introduction of physical and visual obstructions have the potential to adversely affect certain groups disproportionately”.

MACS would wholeheartedly agree with this statement and would be concerned about the lack of control over siting of EV charging infrastructure on-street and at the kerbside in terms of building in barriers for certain people and also the potential inaccessibility for disabled drivers.

MACS is concerned about the increase and prevalence of pavement clutter which pose barriers for many disabled people in negotiating the built environment independently. We would therefore urge a pause to any extension of PDR for EV chargers on footways until a more detailed assessment has been conducted and effective engagement with disabled people and Disabled People’s Organisations.

Likewise, we evidence a greater prevalence of household EV charging cables running across pavements, some with protective strips and this practice should not be allowed as it adds to the trip and wheelchair hazards on pavements.

Change of Use in Centres

Question 19

Do you consider that a merged use class bringing together several existing classes would help to support the regeneration, resilience and recovery of Scotland’s centres?

Whilst MACS supports anything that can be done to revitalise Scotland’s town centres and are supporters of the 20 minute neighbourhood we do have concerns about merging different use classes together – expanded upon below.

Question 20

What do you consider to be the key risks associated with such a merged use class, and do you think that non-planning controls are sufficient to address them?

Whilst legislation has been in place for a number of years encouraging service providers to alter their premises to make them more accessible and not discriminate against disabled people, many of the premises within our town centres remain inaccessible for many disabled residents, shoppers and tourists. When major changes are proposed or indeed a change of use it is through this process that conditions may be applied so that the premises will be more accessible. The lack of planning control is seen as a disadvantage in this case.

What mechanisms will be in place to ensure that every opportunity is available to ensure our town centres are accessible and inclusive to everyone – irrespective of ability and or age?

PDR for provision of workspace

Question 23

Do you think that a PDR providing for a change of use to Class 4 (business) would help to support the regeneration, resilience and recovery of centres – as well as the establishment of 20-minute neighbourhoods?

MACS acknowledges the changes that have taken place in work patterns since the pandemic and the suggestion of providing greater flexibility to change the use of existing buildings to offices / workspaces. However, we would register the same concerns as question 20 – the lack of planning control and question what mechanisms will be in place to ensure every opportunity is available to all members of the community if the buildings remain inaccessible.

PDR for moveable outdoor furniture

Question 27

Do you agree with the proposed introduction of a PDR for moveable furniture placed on the road outside of (Class 3) food and drink premises?

Whilst MACS acknowledges that the requirement for physical distancing during the pandemic saw many cafes, restaurants and other businesses make use of outside areas in order to accommodate customers in a way that complied with public heath advice, these interventions also introduced multiple new barriers for many disabled people. Often these barriers result in many disabled people staying away from these areas as they are too difficult to navigate.

The introduction of movable furniture placed on the road outside of (Class 3) food and drink premises should be carefully considered in order to allow easy access and navigation for many older and disabled people and is something that should be conditioned under planning control and not PD.
Inclusive Mobility A Guide to Best Practice on Access to Pedestrian and Transport Infrastructure was published in 2022 and section 4.2 states:

Footways and footpaths should be made as wide as is practicable, but under normal circumstances, a width of 2000mm is the minimum that should be provided, as this allows enough space for two wheelchair users to pass, even if they are using larger electric mobility scooters. If this is not feasible due to physical constraints, then a minimum width of 1500mm could be regarded as the minimum acceptable under most circumstances, as this should enable a wheelchair user and a walker to pass each other. Where there is an obstacle, such as lamp columns, sign posts or electric vehicle charging points, the absolute minimum width should be 1000mm, but the maximum length of such a restricted space should be 6 metres."

Given the above guidance, what mechanisms will be in place to ensure equitable barrier free access for individuals whose mobility and or vision is impaired?

MACS would not be in favour of this change.

PDR for provision of residential accommodation

Question 31

Do you agree that new residential development in Scotland’s centres should be plan-led rather than consented through new PDR?

MACS would agree that new residential development in Scotland’s centres should be plan led rather than consented through new PDR to ensure that there is equitable and flexible access to town centre living irrespective of individuals’ age and or mobility / ability and transport requirements.