Short Term Lets and Planning Permission

Forums Planning Applications Short Term Lets and Planning Permission

  • This topic has 4 replies, 4 voices, and was last updated 1 year ago by GrangeEdinburgh. This post has been viewed 387 times
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    Grange Planning

      In March 2022, the Scottish Government passed secondary legislation that allows local authorities to regulate short term lets through a licensing scheme.  This addressed a problem that had concerned the City of Edinburgh Council (CEC) for some time.  Its position and concerns were explained in the paper Short Term Letting in Edinburgh in August 2018.  At that time, the legislation providing for Short Term Let Control Areas (STLCA) did not exist.  The Council provided an Update in May 2019.  Although any property being used solely as a short term let has always required planning permission for a change of use (i.e. it is no longer ‘residential’) this has proved very difficult and bureaucratic to enforce, with frequent appeals and challenges, and local authorities have generally not chosen to expend their resources on doing so.


      With the introduction in 2022 of the new legislation (technically, the “Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982 (Licensing of Short Term Lets) Order 2022 (‘the 2022 Order’)”), any local authority can now apply to the Scottish Government to have parts of its area designated as a STLCA.  CEC has made such an application for the whole of the city. As a consequence, residential property owners wholly letting a property as a short term let, which is not their principal home, need to apply for a licence.  They will not receive a licence without planning permission for change of use to ‘short term let’ (rather than ‘residential’) and it is much easier for local authorities to take enforcement action against an unlicensed short term let than it is to take enforcement action for incorrect planning permission.


      The 2022 Order sets out a timetable for the implementation of the licensing scheme for STLCAs.

      • 1 October 2022 – Licensing system opens to applications;
      • By 1 April 2023 – Existing hosts or operators must have made an application to the Council and can continue to operate whilst their application is processed and determined. New entrants to the market will be required to have a licence application granted before being able to operate; and
      • 1 July 2024 – All short term lets to be licensed.


      Therefore, all existing short term lets in Edinburgh are required to submit licence applications by 1 April 2023.  As part of the application, they must demonstrate that they have planning permission to operate as a short term let, rather than have the property designated as simply ‘residential’.  As a consequence, there are many planning applications being made for ‘change of use’ for properties currently designated as ‘residential’ but which are being used as short term lets.


      The Grange Association reviews all planning applications in its area and consults its members who stay nearby to each application before determining whether to lodge a comment or an objection.  With the current and expected large volume of applications for change of use to short term let, we are endeavouring to establish a consistent policy.   Examples of recent applications are 22/03018/FUL and 22/04896/FUL.


      At present, we are considering adopting a position in which any application for a short term let on a shared stairway, or with an entrance shared with other properties which remain residential, should be the subject of an objection. Concerns about the effects of noise, anti-social behaviour, refuse disposal and parking on the other residents who share the entrance have informed this opinion.


      We wish to know the views of our members on this matter and whether members support this position to object to all such applications for change of use in our area.  We know that there are opposing views that such blanket opposition stifles tourism and the recovery of business post-pandemic.  And there are contrary views that our proposed stance is not robust enough, applying only to short term lets with shared entrances, rather than to all such applications in residential streets.


      Please add your comments below so that we can assess the balance of views among our members.  (You need to register for a login before you can add comments but please do so – it is fairly quick and easy and we would like to hear from you.)

      Grange Planning

        CEC has an online consultation open until 22 December 2022.  This invites comments about its proposed amendments to the Guidance for Businesses.  The current Guidance for Businesses is rather vague about the criteria by which applications for change of use to a Short Term Let (STL) would be assessed.


        “The change of use from a residential property to short term commercial visitor accommodation may require planning permission. In deciding whether this is the case, regard will be had to:
        • The character of the new use and of the wider area;
        • The size of the property;
        • The pattern of activity associated with the use including numbers of occupants, the period of
        use, issues of noise, disturbance and parking demand; and
        • The nature and character of any services provided.”


        The proposed amendments are much clearer and include:


        “Where the location is mixed in character (residential /commercial) regard will be had to those residential properties nearby and therefore there is a presumption against granting planning permission.
        Where the street has a quiet nature or low ambient noise levels (particularly at night-time), STL will not generally be supported


        Where the area is wholly residential, it is unlikely that short-term let proposals will be supported.”


        You can add your own comments to the Council’s consultation here.


          Sounds (mainly) like not before time !

          Mike L

            This is very useful information. I often hang out in the Edinburgh forum on TripAdvisor, where potential visitors ask questions and seek advice about their planned visits. There have been several questions recently about the likely effect of the licensing scheme on AirBnB lettings. Understandably, people who have booked for 2022  or 2023 are worried that their intended accommodation will not be available or their bookings will be cancelled. It’s good to be able to give them a definitive answer.


              thank you

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