Development guidance - Housing in the Countryside
The information on this page sets out the Council current policy advice in relation to new rural housing across the Highland countryside and our ongoing work in updating this guidance and how you can participate in this.
Self-build housing has always been an important part of rural house building across the Highlands and supports local contractors, builder merchants and many other businesses. The Council and Scottish Government is keen to encourage greater self-build opportunities. However, building a bespoke house whilst very rewarding, is complex and involves many differing requirements and applications and as such the Council has produced this short guide as an initial starting point.
The Council operates a two-tier approach towards rural housing in the countryside. With the majority being classed as ‘wider countryside’, whilst the Moray Firth and wider Fort William areas are defined as ‘hinterland’, due to these areas experiencing the greatest pressure for rural housing. The link below opens an interactive map to help you identify the boundaries of each area.
Review of the Housing in the Countryside and Siting and Design Supplementary Planning Guidance
Highland Council is currently reviewing its ‘Housing in the Countryside and Siting and Design Supplementary Planning Guidance’. The draft version of which was approved for consultation by the Council’s Economy and Infrastructure Committee in September and we are now seeking your views on this draft guidance during an 8 week consultation which begins on Friday 23 October 2020.
Normally, we would hold various public consultation events to promote and seek views on the draft guidance. However, due to the current COVID-19 restrictions we are unable to do so and have instead produced this short film to highlight the main changes and explain in more detail the importance of the guidance document.
Your comments, views and opinions matter and will help the Council finalise the guidance and we would invite you to submit these through our consultation portal by Friday 18 December 2020. Following which, we will review the matters raise before seeking final approval of the guidance by the Council Economy and Infrastructure Committee and adoption following clearance by Scottish Ministers
Currently Adopted Housing in the Countryside and Siting and Design Supplementary Planning Guidance
Until such time the new guidance is adopted, the existing guidance remains in force.
2016 Policy Update – Use of Legal Agreements
The Council’s policy approach for housing in the countryside in hinterland areas went under scrutiny through two planning appeals. This concluded that the use of legal agreements to tie a new house to the operational land that justifies the house conflicts with national policy. In taking account of these cases along with Scottish Planning Policy and other advice from Scottish Government, the 11 May 2016 PDI Committee was asked to consider alternative options for dealing with such cases. The Committee subsequently agreed to remove the use of such legal agreements and adopt more stringent criteria to assess housing in the countryside in Hinterland areas as set out in this Housing in the Countryside Briefing Note.
This approach applies to all undetermined planning applications as of the date of the Committee, 11 May 2016 onwards.
Strategic Environmental Assessment