Some of you may have seen this weekend’s article about hutting in The Observer newspaper – a full page of enthusiastic support for hut life. Unfortunately, however, the reporter has made the common mistake of confusing planning and building regulations – and wrongly states that huts do not require planning permission. Not only that, the writer misquotes our campaigner, Karen Grant, supporting the misconception that planning and building regulations are the same thing. All a bit frustrating for Karen and the Thousand Huts campaign team – particularly as this article has now been repeated in The Times online.
To clarify, here is a summary of the current situation for those wishing to build new huts:
- There IS a requirement to apply for planning permission to build a hut. However, the Scottish Planning Policy published in 2014 includes encouragement for planning authorities to consider huts for recreational use, and includes a definition of a hut.
- In support of this policy, Reforesting Scotland’s Thousand Huts campaign has published the guidance paper New hutting developments: Good practice guidance on the planning, development and management of huts and hut sites which can be used to help applicants or planners considering new hut developments.
- The Scottish Government has said that they plan to EXEMPT huts from building regulations by creating a new building type for huts. Huts will still need planning permission but the will have a much lighter regulatory burden in terms of how they are constructed, and in many cases may not require any building warrant at all.
- However, this exemption is dependent on hut builders following health and safety guidance contained in a new publication currently under production (look out for more information on this in coming months).
Many people do not understand the difference between planning and building control. Planning rules are there to manage and control the way that towns and countryside develop. Planners are interested in the siting, design, use and environmental impact of a development. Building Regulations set standards for the design and construction of buildings largely to ensure the safety and health for people in or about those buildings. Although the two areas overlap, their key roles and regulation are completely different. They are managed by different staff within planning authorities.