City of Edinburgh Council launches consultation on short term let controls
A consultation is set to begin next month following consideration of a report published by the City of Edinburgh Council outlining a draft proposal to designate the whole city as a short term let (STL) control area.
If, following the consultation, the council gives the go ahead and the proposal is approved by the Scottish Government, the new powers would mean all residential properties, which are not an owner’s principle home, being let as STLs in their totality throughout the local authority area would require approval of a ‘change of use’ to a STL from Planning.
Around a third of STLs in Scotland are in Edinburgh. At the moment, in addition to planning applications made for STLs, to establish whether or not planning permission is required for properties where this is disputed, the council’s enforcement team looks at each case individually, which is a very lengthy and time consuming process.
The introduction of powers to make a control area, follows the council calling for new legislation to tighten up the control of STLs to help manage high concentrations of secondary letting where it affects the availability of residential housing or the character of a neighbourhood.
Also, it will help to restrict or prevent STLs in places or types of buildings where they are not appropriate as well as making sure homes are used to best effect in their areas.
If a home has been changed to secondary letting and continually operated as a STL for more than 10 years before a STL control area is designated and no enforcement action has been taken during that time, planning permission is not required. Also, generally, renting out a room/s in your house or letting your property whilst on holiday would also still be allowed if Edinburgh became a STL control zone.
The Scottish Government is currently consulting on legislation to introduce a new licensing regime next year, which the council also called for, to address the issues of safety, anti-social behaviour and noise. These issues have all had a detrimental effect on communities as the number of STLs has greatly increased across the city in recent years.
The proposal is that all Scottish councils will have to adopt a STL licensing system by October 2022. In terms of the Government’s proposed new licensing regime, if Edinburgh becomes a control area it will be a mandatory condition of any licensing application to have made a planning application or to have planning permission already when providing accommodation that requires it.
Councillor Neil Gardiner, planning convener, said: “Last year we welcomed that our call for new Scottish Government legislation to control STLs was successful. If the proposals are approved by the Planning Committee, we’ll be in a position where we can push forward and ask our residents, the industry and other interested groups, for their views on making the whole of Edinburgh a STL control area. We’ll be looking carefully at this feedback before the proposal is finalised as the impact of STLs can be felt in communities across Edinburgh.
“If the Scottish Government approve the whole city as a STL control zone, we’ll be able to manage the number of STLs in the city as properties being let out in these areas would automatically require to have ‘change of use’ planning permission in place. It’s also good news that the Scottish Government is proposing that when people apply for a licence we can ask for evidence that they have that planning permission. This is something we’re very keen to do and our ‘Choices’ consultation responses for our next local development plan - ‘City Plan 2030’ - showed overwhelming support for control zones.
“Combined with the proposed licensing regime due to be introduced next year, if approved, this step forward is in direct response to our hard work in pushing for the powers we know we need to deliver for our communities city-wide.”
Maureen Child, vice-convener of the planning committee, added: “It’s great to see so much progress being made to tackle this issue we have campaigned so hard to address. This is so important as STLs have reduced the city’s housing stock, hollowed out communities and caused numerous issues for residents such as noise and other anti-social behaviour. I look forward to seeing these new powers being used to improve the lives of many of our residents throughout the city.”