Acting on behalf of Scottish Ministers in their capacity as roads authority, Transport Scotland is a statutory consultee in the planning process. This means planning authorities must consult Transport Scotland before granting planning permission for developments which are likely to have an impact on the trunk road network.


When to consult Transport Scotland on a planning application

The Planning Authority must consult Transport Scotland where the development:

  • Is within 67m of a trunk or special road or proposed trunk or special road
  • Includes the formation, laying out or alteration of any means of access to a trunk or special road, or proposed trunk or special road
  • Is likely to result in a material increase in the volume of traffic entering or leaving a trunk or special road
  • Is likely to result in a material change in the character of traffic entering or leaving a trunk or special road

These requirements are set out in Regulation 25 and Schedule 5 of The Town and Country Planning (Development Management Procedure) (Scotland) Regulations 2013.

Pre-application discussions

Transport Scotland encourages pre-application discussions. Effective engagement can lead to a more efficient planning application process with shorter timescales and more effective use of resources for all parties.

We encourage applicants, their consultants and planning authorities to discuss their proposals with us as at the earliest opportunity and whenever a query arises. This allows a shared understanding of the nature of the proposed development in the first instance. We can provide advice on the general acceptability of proposals and advise whether any supporting information may be needed to be submitted with the planning application, such as a transport assessment. This will assist in meeting the likely timescales for determination.

We tailor these discussions to suit the needs of the applicant or circumstances. They can be formal or informal, a telephone call, e-mail exchange, letter or meeting. Our contact details can be found on our Contact and feedback page. Where appropriate we can meet on site if needed, noting that we seek to combine visits to make the best use of our resources.

Transport Scotland, along with some other statutory consultees within the planning process, have prepared a joint statement on pre-application engagement for national and major developments. Pre-application discussions between prospective applicants, key agencies and planning authorities are vital to ensure all parties have a shared understanding of the nature of a proposed development, information requirements and the likely timescales for determination.

Guidance for smaller developments

The majority of planning applications affecting the trunk road network will be small in nature and will not have a significant impact on the trunk road network in terms of the potential number of trips generated and therefore capacity. Our focus for these smaller applications is on the design of the access and development layout.

We have prepared Advice on Planning for Small Developments for developments which are less than 100 houses or other development types that will result in an equivalent number of trips to and from the development and will not normally require a Transport Assessment. Our guidance note provides further information on Transport Scotland’s considerations and processes in relation to small developments.

Transport assessment

Our development management guidance Development and the Trunk Road outlines what should be considered in relation to trunk roads for developments which do require a Transport Assessment. This provides further information on Transport Scotland’s considerations and processes in relation to developments of this nature and scale.

Scottish Planning Policy states that where a new development or a change of use is likely to generate a significant increase in the number of trips, a transport assessment should be carried out.

A Transport Assessment is a systematic process that sets out transport issues relating to a proposed development. In each case, the assessment undertaken should be proportionate to the scale and complexity of the likely impacts arising.

The assessment identifies what measures will be taken to deal with the anticipated transport impacts of a development. It considers how to access the development, particularly for alternatives to the car such as walking, cycling and public transport and any measures that may be needed to support the development. Impacts on safety for all modes of travel are also outlined. A Transport Assessment normally involves some quantification of people trip numbers and junction assessments using transport models however the key consideration in each case will be to consider what information is necessary to inform the decision. Finally, the assessment findings should be clearly reported, and written in a manner which is accessible to a range of end-readers. Transport Scotland’s Transport Assessment Guidance provides guidance on how to prepare a Transport Assessment.

When a transport assessment is required

A Transport Assessment is generally required when the following indicative thresholds are reached. There may be circumstances where developments that do not meet these thresholds still require a Transport Assessment. Transport Scotland can advise on requirements at an early stage.

Indicative Size Criteria for a Transport Assessment and Travel Plan
Land Use Parameter Transport Assessment
Food retail Gross Floor Area (GFA) > 1,000 sqm
Non-food retail GFA > 1,000 sqm
Cinemas and conference facilities GFA > 1,000 sqm
Leisure facilities GFA > 1,000 sqm
Business GFA > 2,500 sqm
Industry GFA > 5,000 sqm
Distribution and warehousing GFA > 10,000 sqm
Hospitals GFA > 2,500 sqm
Higher and further education GFA > 2,500 sqm
Stadia Seats > 1,500
Housing Dwellings > 100

Transport statement

In some cases a Transport Statement may suffice. Generally a Transport Statement is similar to a Transport Assessment but without detailed accessibility analysis and junction modelling. Transport Scotland can advise on what is required to support planning applications and tailors advice to the specific circumstances of the application.

Planning application process and Transport Scotland targets

Receiving the application and assigning a Transport Scotland contact

Planning authorities send Transport Scotland a planning application notification. We log the application and assign it to a Transport Scotland case officer who will act as the main point of contact throughout the process. If a development requires to be supported by a Transport Assessment it is dealt with by our Major Applications Team. We receive approximately 80 applications supported by a Transport Assessment each year.

We receive approximately 880 planning applications a year for developments which do not require a Transport Assessment. These applications are managed by Transport Scotland’s Minor Applications Team. It should be noted that our definition of Major and Minor Applications relates to the need for a Transport Assessment and is not aligned with the definitions of national, major and local developments defined in the Planning etc. (Scotland) Act 2006 and described in Planning Circular 5 2009: Hierarchy of Developments. The following table indicates which team deals with different application types.

Hierarchy of Development and Transport Scotland Development Management Teams

Hierarchy of Development and Transport Scotland Development Management Teams
Town and Country Planning Hierarchy of Development Definitions Transport Assessment Required Transport Scotland Team
National Developments
As designated in the National Planning Framework
Yes Major Applications
Major Developments
As defined in The Town and Country Planning (Hierarchy of Developments) (Scotland) Regulations 2009, Reg 2 (1) and as included in the Schedule
Yes Major Applications
Possibly or Transport Statement Minor Applications
Local Developments
As defined in The Town and Country Planning (Hierarchy of Developments) (Scotland) Regulations 2009, Reg 2 (2) as all development which is neither national nor major
No Minor Applications

Transport Scotland Response Timescale Targets

The Planning Authority have up to 4 months to determine applications for planning permission for national developments and major developments and up to 2 months to determine applications for planning permission for local developments, unless an Environmental Impact Assessment is required. Transport Scotland seeks to respond to the Planning Authority as promptly as possible. Where the application is accompanied by all the relevant information that Transport Scotland needs to inform our response to the Planning Authority, this greatly reduces the time it takes for us to respond. This is why we strongly encourage early discussions with us so that the right information is submitted with the planning application.

For applications which do not require a Transport Assessment we are committed to issuing 90% of our consultation responses to the Planning Authority within 14 days of receipt. For applications that require to be accompanied by a Transport Assessment we are committed to issuing a response within 14 days from receipt of all acceptable supporting data provided by the applicant (i.e. an audited Transport Assessment). We advise planning authorities if we are unlikely to be able to respond within 14 days, outlining our reasons why this is the case.

Format of Transport Scotland response

Transport Scotland responds to the Planning Authority using a standard form which sets out our recommendation to the Planning Authority. Transport Scotland can recommend to the Planning Authority that an application is granted, granted subject to condition or refused. We proactively seek to resolve issues prior to making a response, however on occasion, and only when necessary, will Transport Scotland recommend that the Planning Authority refuse planning permission. However, it is up to the Planning Authority whether to grant planning permission or otherwise.

Where the Planning Authority grants consent contrary to the advice given by Transport Scotland, or does not propose to attach planning conditions that have been recommended by Transport Scotland, they are required to notify Scottish Ministers. Further information what happens thereafter can be found in Planning Circular 3 2009 Notification of Planning Applications and by emailing the Scottish Government’s Planning Decisions Branch

Transport Scotland advises planning authorities where we are unlikely to be able to respond within agreed timescales. On occasion applicants do not provide sufficient information to support their application. We prefer to give the applicant the opportunity to provide any outstanding information before we respond, rather than recommending refusal due to insufficient information just to meet our target response dates. In all cases we seek to resolve any issues with the aim of providing a positive recommendation to the Planning Authority. This is a further reason why we are keen to promote effective pre-application discussions as this reduces the potential delays when applications are processed.

Planning applications quarterly reports

Transport Scotland's performance responding to planning consultations is monitored and results are published on a quarterly basis:

Planning applications quarterly and annual reports

Planning contacts and feedback

Development Plan team contacts

Transport Scotland, Buchanan House, 58 Port Dundas Road, G4 0HF

Development Management team contacts

General enquiries: development_management@transport.gov.scot

Transport Scotland, Buchanan House, 58 Port Dundas Road, G4 0HF

Major Applications team contacts

Minor Applicatons team contacts


To help us continually improve our service and engagement we welcome your open and honest feedback:

Complaints policy and process

Our complaints policy and process reflects our commitment to serving the public. It seeks to resolve issues at the point of service delivery and to conduct thorough, impartial and fair investigations of complaints. However, we would encourage you to discuss any issues you may have directly with your Case Officer or Development Plan contact at first.