This section applies to buying or leasing and taking on the management of land, in its current use and for proposed new uses. Although it focuses on land, if your project involves changes to the use of buildings or the erection of new buildings or structures, you will still learn how to avoid pitfalls by reading through this section. 

Restrictions on Use of the Land

You need to check the terms and conditions of your lease or deeds as there may be restrictions on the uses of land or you may require the permission of the landowner prior to changing the use of the land or building on the land. A guide to what to consider when checking property titles can be downloaded at the bottom of this page. 

Planning Permission

You may need planning permission if you want to use the land (or building) for purposes other than its current use. For example, if the current use of the land is grazing land or vacant land and you want to use the land for playing pitches or community gardening, it is likely that permission will be required, even if your use is for a temporary period of time. Also, if the land has been used as playing pitches and you want to erect play equipment, you may require permission.

In all circumstances, you should check with the local planning authority (LPA) at your Council before you start to use the land or prior to carrying out any physical development work. As the onus lies with you to secure the correct permissions, it is advised that you provide the LPA with as much information as you can on your proposed project so that they can advise you as accurately as possible.

As well as confirming whether you need permission, the LPA can advise you what plans, information and fees are required to be submitted with the planning application; what issues they think will need to be addressed in the application; and the potential timescale for consideration of the application. You may need to instruct professional advisors to submit the application or to address the issues. The Royal Town Planning Institute has a list of some chartered town planners who deal with planning in Scotland. It can also be beneficial to submit a supporting statement with your application to explain how the proposal fits in with policies and meets local needs in your area.

Alternatively, other development professions may be able to offer advice / support and may well be happy to be instructed to deal with the planning application.



The Town Planner

  • Manages and oversees the planning process
  • Submits and manages the planning application, project manages other professional in the planning application process, consultation with neighbours and other stakeholders
  • Monitors the local development plan and supplementary planning guidance - reviews and submits comments to the various stages of LDP preparation

The Architect

  • Produces detailed designs and site layout plans to accompany the planning application
  • Could manage the planning process

The Transport Consultant

  • Possible input into the planning application
  • Assesses transportation issues associated with the proposed development, proposes changes to the transporation network
  • Completes Transportation Impact Assessments and Travel Plans

The Environmental Consultant(s)

  • Possible input into the planning application
  • Can include experts on noise, flooding, drainage, heritage (archaeology, conservation, Listed Buildings), ecology, soil, hydrology

The Landscape Architect

  • Possible input into the planning application
  • Provides detailed landscape design proposals and plans

If planning permission is required, you will need to consider the potential time delay to your project to get that permission (this time lag includes the time to prepare a good planning application, including the necessary detailed drawings and studies; consult neighbours; submit and have considered the planning application; potential amendments; and determination). You should allow at least 3 – 4 months from start to finish of this process although periods in excess of 12 months are not uncommon, depending upon the complexity of the proposed development. Again, your LPA can advise on this.

A useful source of advice, training, support and mentoring is available through Planning Aid Scotland.


It is advisable to consult neighbours to the site and other existing and potential users of the site prior to submitting any planning application or changing the manner within which the land is used. Generally, interested parties will be more favourable to changes in the use or operation of land if they have been informed prior to those changes occurring and if their views have been properly taken into account.

You may also want to discuss your proposal with various statutory consultees (roads, environmental health etc) which may be involved in your proposal as it will be necessary to take on board their requirements. The LPA can advise you which consultees will be involved in your planning application.

In all cases, you should approach the consultation exercise with an open mind, ready to take on board issues raised by those you have consulted. You may find that you are not able to meet all those issues, however, so you may need to advise those interested parties as to the valid reasons why the proposed changes cannot be made or the extent to which you have been able to accommodate their requirements. As it is rare that all persons can be pleased all of the time, it is advisable that you show the LPA, in the supporting statement, how you have tried to address any concerns raised to your proposal.


Related Resources

Guide for Landowners by the Community Land Advisory Service

The Guide For Landowners (updated 2018) has been produced by the Community Land Advisory Service in Scotland and provides free, comprehensive information and advice to help landowners play their part in the surge in community gardening and food growing across Scotland.

PDF icon SF&G CLAS Landowners Guide 09.18.pdf

Successful Planning = Effective Engagement and Delivery

A practical guide to better engagement in planning in Scotland.

PDF icon Speed-2018.pdf

Property Title Checklist for Community Organisations

It is recommended that those buying any property have the title examined by a qualified legal professional. This document is a non-exhaustive list of some of the things they should look into on your behalf. As the client you should be aware of them, ensure they have been checked over and take into account any implications of the findings.

File Property Title Checklist for Community Organisations