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Short-term Lets (Planning Guidance) – PQ

Official Report transcript of Murdo Fraser MSP Parliamentary Question (PQ) on STLs from Social Justice portfolio questions 25th January
Short-term Lets (Planning Guidance)
2. Murdo Fraser (Mid Scotland and Fife) (Con): To ask the Scottish Government whether it will update its guidance to local authorities on planning rules for short-term lets, in light of the recent ruling from the Court of Session that deemed the City of Edinburgh Council’s planning guidance for businesses on short-term lets to be unlawful. (S6O-03007)
The Minister for Housing (Paul McLennan): In bringing the judicial review of the City of Edinburgh Council’s local guidance, the petitioners noted that it was not consistent with the Scottish Government’s guidance. In issuing its decision, the court agreed with the Scottish Government’s position on the interpretation of the relevant legislation. Therefore, the Scottish Government does not consider it necessary to update its current guidance, which was set out in planning circular 1/2023.
Murdo Fraser: I am sure that the minister would acknowledge that there is confusion about the law on planning for short-term lets, with different councils taking different approaches. Some councils now require such operators, even if they have been operating for some time, to apply for retrospective planning consent before they will grant a short-term let. Other councils take a different approach. Does the minister not think that updated guidance from the Scottish Government would be helpful, so that we could have uniformity of approach across the country instead of the current confusion?
Paul McLennan: One of the most important points when we set out the policy was about giving local authorities the ability to use their own flexibility—something that was supported in our discussions by the Society of Local Authority Lawyers and Administrators in Scotland, SOLAR.
I am aware that representatives of the City of Edinburgh Council are speaking to petitioners to try and clarify some of the points that have been raised, and I know that discussions are on-going in that regard.
Gordon MacDonald (Edinburgh Pentlands) (SNP): Will the minister make it clear that the court ruling applies only to the City of Edinburgh Council’s short-term lets policy, and that the national legislation underpinning the licence scheme remains robust and applicable across Scotland, with a considerable degree of local discretion?
Paul McLennan: As I mentioned in my previous answer, I can confirm that the ruling applies only to the local planning policy of the City of Edinburgh Council, which relates to the council’s interpretation and implementation of legislation for designated short-term let control areas. The ruling does not impact in any way on either planning or short-term let licensing legislation, nor was the court asked to consider any matters relating to legislation as part of the judicial review. Our view is that the licensing and planning of short-term let accommodation can be operated effectively by authorities so as to respect the rights of hosts and guests.

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