December 2019

Building Standards and Planning Service Update

Christmas and New Year holiday dates

Comhairle nan Eilean Siar offices will be closed on Tuesday 24 December 2019 and will reopen on Friday 3 January 2020.s are determined.

Building Standards

Guidance Changes in the Building Standards Procedural Handbook

The updated Building Standards Procedural Handbook is published on the Scottish Government website.  Version 1.6 of the 3rd edition is the version that should now be used for guidance on building standards matters and was published on 01 October 2019 for use from that date.

Some of the changes include, clarification on roles and responsibilities and inspection of safety critical elements.

A blog post covering the main guidance changes can be found on the Scottish Government website.

Development Planning and Marine Planning

Outer Hebrides Local Development Plan

Following the adoption of the Outer Hebrides Local Development Plan (LDP) in November 2018, the Development Plan team is looking now to put in place a monitoring framework to assess the operation and usefulness of the Development Plan.  In line with current, and new, legislation emerging from the Planning Act 2019 effective Plan monitoring is vital in informing any new LDP.

Under the 2019 Planning Act there is a new process for preparing and engaging on a new LDP. Formal regulations on this is still to published, however the LDP is moving to a 10 year Plan cycle with scope for interim reviews of elements of the Plan. Other new aspects of the Development Plan that the Comhairle is likely to engage on include scope for communities to prepare Local Place Plans, which subject to content and preparation processes, could be reflected in the LDP. 

Supplementary Guidance

Supplementary Guidance which forms part of the Development Plan provides more detailed or technical policy on some areas of development and can be statutory or non-statutory.  The Planning Service is currently preparing new and revised supplementary guidance for Marine Fish Farming and Wind Energy Development. Information on formal stages of these guidances’ reviews will be published on the Development Plan Consultations web page in the spring of 2020.  In due course new or further supplementary guidance on areas including Minerals, Conservation Areas, and Caravans, Huts & Temporary Buildings will be prepared.  Meantime the existing adopted Guidances apply. 

Conservation Area Grants – Buildings and Painting Grant Schemes

The Comhairle administers a series of grant schemes applicable to the four conservation areas in the Outer Hebrides:  Stornoway; Gearrannan; Ruisgarry; and Howmore.  These schemes aim to offset the additional costs associated with works specific to the conservation area.  Further information on these grant schemes and the conditions that apply is available online.  Potential applicants are encouraged to speak with the Planning Service before submitting an application, with regards to eligibility and any necessary planning consent.

Thatching Grant Scheme 

Due to its perishable nature, a traditional Scottish Thatched roof will rapidly deteriorate unless it is regularly maintained.  Historic Environment Scotland encourages owners of historic and traditional thatched buildings to maintain and repair them by providing grants for the maintenance of thatched roofs under the Historic Environment Support Fund, which is administered by the Comhairle, within the Outer Hebrides.  The scheme provides grant funding to meet a proportion of the cost of repairing and maintaining traditional roof structures.  This can include re-thatching, replacement of top coats, repairs and associated minor works to roofing divots and roof timbers.  Information on the thatching grant scheme and eligibility is available online or you can contact Hannah Morrison telephone 01870 604990 or email

For further information on any Development Plan matters or the Grants highlighted please contact the Development Plan and Marine Planning team on 01870 604990 or 01851 822690 or e-mail

Development Management

Climate Change and Flood Risk

As per the update in the last bulletin, which included an increase in climate change allowances for flood risk assessment, climate change has continued to be a focus of Government.

SEPA provides planning authorities with specialist advice on flood risk assessments and has also issued updated guidance for agents.  SEPA have set out a mandatory requirement that any flood risk assessment submitted to them in support of a planning consultation must be accompanied by a completed Flood Risk Assessment Checklist (51.1kB) (Opens in a new window or downloads a file).

The driver behind this is to improve the quality of flood risk assessments (FRAs) submitted with planning applications, with the aim of ensuring the right information is received from the outset and help minimise protracted timescales for decision.

Planning Reform

The Planning (Scotland) Act 2019 was passed by Parliament on 20 June 2019 and secured Royal Assent on 25 July 2019.

The Scottish Government has published the Transforming Planning in Practice - Post-Bill Work Programme, setting out how it will implement the Planning (Scotland) Act 2019 and take forward the wider programme of reform.

Three sets of commencement regulations have already been made, bringing various parts of the Act into force between 1 December 2019 and 1 March 2020.  An information note has been published by Government providing more details. 

Public Access Downtime January and February 2020

The main database server that hosts our casework system is to be replaced.  As a consequence, there is a significant amount of work scheduled over a six week period to set up and test all the inter-related software that supports Public Access for planning.

Though the timetable may vary, the main periods where the Public Access system will be unavailable are:  10 January; 3 February; and 10 – 14 February 2020.  We ask for your patience during this essential work. 

Development Management Team - 2019

The Planning Service of the Comhairle has had another demanding year having registered a larger number of cases in 2019 than in the previous year, with 576 cases registered by Thursday 19 December.  The extremes of case complexity, include for an increased number of larger scale EIA cases, through to a marked increase in the number of prior notifications for agricultural buildings.

The planning officers and support staff strive to provide a high quality of service.  We are one of a declining number of authorities that actively encourage pre-application engagement as a means of improving design quality and policy compliance, effectively reducing determination timescales once a planning application has been submitted.  The Comhairle Planning Service does not charge for pre-application advice.

The team looks forward to another year of working with developers to secure high quality development outcomes across the islands.

Customer Survey

The Comhairle Planning Service Customer Satisfaction Questionnaire (Opens in a new window or downloads a file) is available through Survey Monkey Copies can also be collected at Comhairle offices or just contact us if you would like us to send you a copy.  Your comments help us to improve the service we provide.  The Planning Service Customer Survey Results are published on the Comhairle website.

The Comhairle Planning Performance Framework, which shows the Performance of the Planning Service and areas for improvement, is available online

Performance Information

Building Standards

For Quarter 1 of 2019/20 (01 Apr – 30 June), 93% of Building Warrants were responded to within 15 days and 93% of warrants were issued within 6 days.  In terms of Certificates of Completion, 89% were responded to within 9 days.  The target for these indicators is 85% in each case.

For Quarter 2 of 2019/20 (01 July – 30 Sept), 98% of Building Warrants were responded to within 15 days and 88% of warrants were issued within 6 days.  In terms of Certificates of Completion, 91% were responded to within 9 days.  The target for these indicators is 85% in each case.

Development Management

The Scottish Government has issued its summary of Planning Performance by the Comhairle in the context of Scottish Planning Authorities.  Statistical bulletins give the Latest Information on Planning Authority Performance (Opens in a new window or downloads a file).

Contact Details / Area Responsibilities

Building Standards

Planning Service

Online Resources

We would remind and encourage developers to make best use of on-line resources for generic queries thus minimising the draw on the time of local officers.

Preparation of Planning Applications: Validation and Determination Guidance  (») (Opens in a new window or downloads a file) 

Submitting Planning Applications: (Opens in a new window or downloads a file)

Viewing Planning Applications:  Comhairle Public Access (Opens in a new window or downloads a file)

Comhairle Planning Service

Scottish Government Planning and Architecture (Opens in a new window or downloads a file)

Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) (Opens in a new window or downloads a file)

Planning Aid for Scotland (PAS) (Opens in a new window or downloads a file)

Historic Environment Scotland (HES) (Opens in a new window or downloads a file)

Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) (Opens in a new window or downloads a file)

Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) (Opens in a new window or downloads a file)

Marine Scotland (Marine and Fisheries) (Opens in a new window or downloads a file)

Scottish Water (Opens in a new window or downloads a file)

Contact Information

Building Standards

01851 822692 (Stornoway)
01870 604990 (Balivanich)

Development Management

01851 822690 (Stornoway)
01870 604990 (Balivanich

Development Plan and Marine Planning

01851 822690 (Stornoway)
01870 604990 (Balivanich)