Edinburgh Council has a backlog of over 1,600 short-term let applications

Wednesday May 15th 2024


Written by Local Democracy Reporter, Donald Turvill

Edinburgh Council’s planning department is facing a backlog of over 1,600 short-term let applications, sparking “serious questions” over whether it is adequately resourced.

New figures have revealed the extent of pressures on the city’s planning service following the introduction of new regulations for second homes used as holiday lets.

They show that at the end of March a total of 2,546 short-term let (STL) applications had been lodged since 2018, with 880 of these granted, refused or withdrawn so far – leaving 1,666 which are yet to be issued with a decision.

More than two-thirds (76%) of the backlog is made up of requests for certificates of lawfulness.

Previously the council said this route was only available to those who could prove their property had been used as an STL for more than 10 years.

However, after a judicial review last year found the authority could no longer demand ‘change of use’ applications for all other holiday lets, an increasing number of landlords have sought lawful certificates in a bid to avoid the full planning permission process – which has seen just one in three approved, of those determined so far.

Cllr Chas Booth, Edinburgh Greens’ spokesperson on planning, said: “I’m extremely concerned that more than 8 of every 10 applications for an STL certificate of lawfulness have not yet been determined by the council.

“It’s important that these applications are processed swiftly and fairly, not just for the applicants, who deserve a clear decision, but also for neighbours and communities who might be impacted by some of these applications.

“This raises serious questions about whether the council has sufficient resources, and enough planning officers, to cope with the number of STL applications.”

Fiona Campbell, CEO of trade body the Association of Scotland’s Self-Caterers (ASSC), said: “Industry repeatedly warned about the resource implications for local authorities stemming from short-term let regulations.

“The status quo is a lose-lose situation for all concerned as planning departments are overwhelmed while small business owners face crippling uncertainty.

“Taking a proactive approach to address these challenges, the ASSC has presented legally sound and mutually beneficial policy solutions to City of Edinburgh Council.

“This would help enable a sustainable future for the remaining self-catering businesses in the capital and reduce the administrative burden for the Council.

“With jobs and livelihoods on the line, we want to get this right and we look forward to further discussions with them on the regulatory framework.”

Planning convener Cllr James Dalgleish said: “We’ve expanded the short term lets team since the control area was first introduced in September 2022 as we are acutely aware that backlogs need to be reduced and applications processed in a timely manner.

“This has been challenging due to the volume of applications received and the handling of a large number of public comments and queries in this area. The team has also had to consider the implications of the outcome of the judicial review in December 2023 which has had a knock on impact on the timescales in the determination of applications.”

Tweet Share on Facebook  

Subscribe to the Midlothian View newsletter

Support Midlothian View from as little as £1. It only takes a minute. Thank you.

Comments are closed.