Short Term Let Control Areas

Closed 11 Apr 2022

Opened 14 Feb 2022


We are carrying out an 8-week period of consultation to gather opinions from local residents and a wide range of relevant sectors on whether there are particular issues in East Lothian's communities that could mean one or more Control Areas may be required under the Scottish Government's new Town and Country Planning (Short-term Let Control Areas) (Scotland) Regulations 2021.  Attached to this consultation you will find a copy of the legislation, a copy of the Scottish Government's Planning Circular 1/21 Establishing a Short Term Let Control Area, and a guidance note prepared by East Lothian Council's Policy & Strategy Team.  All this information is intended to assist with completing the consultation survey and to give general background information on short term lets, what they are, their prevalence in the main East Lothian settlements, and the types of issues that should be taken into account when considering the need for control areas.

The Scottish Government introduced the new legislation in 2021 allowing Local Authorities to create Control Areas that would place restrictions on additional properties operating as a Short Term Let.  Typically these properties are advertised on websites such as AirBnB or VRBO.  Control Areas can be helpful in managing the effects of Short Term Lets if there is a particular prevalence in an area, and if it is deemed that this is creating undesirable impacts on the local community.

The new planning legislation allows planning authorities to designate all of their area as a control area or parts of their area as one or more control areas. They are not under a duty to designate control areas and may choose not to do so. If control areas are introduced, then within these areas short terms lets would require planning permission and their numbers could be restricted.

Within the Scottish Government's Planning Circular 1/21 are the types of issues that would be relevant to determining if short terms let control areas are required. It states they could be brought in:

  • to help manage high concentrations of secondary letting (where it affects
  • the availability of residential housing or the character of a neighbourhood)
  • to restrict or prevent short-term lets in places or types of building where it is not appropriate; or
  • to help local authorities ensure that homes are used to best effect in their areas.

Control areas are a land use planning tool and if these controls are introduced, then it is essential that it is due to relevant planning issues being regularly raised as a problem by residents. Within the context of the three issues set out above, relevant planning considerations would include:

  • changes to the look and feel of a neighbourhood, such as multiple keyboxes on many buildings or structures or wheelie suitcase noise on streets and in stairwells;
  • signs that local services are struggling, such as many instances of overflowing bins;
  • lack of affordable and appropriate housing for local residents, perhaps indicated by a high share of sale volumes to, and high prices paid by, non-residents;
  • a significantly higher level of complaints relevant to use of dwellinghouses as short-term lets from neighbours spread across a number of tenements or properties than in a comparable area, within or outside the planning authority area, and
  • detrimental impact on local amenity, with some businesses, schools or other services that serve, and are reliant on, permanent residents closing or relocating.

Ultimately, it will be for the Council to determine whether a control area is required taking all relevant local circumstances into account. Prior to making this decision, we are seeking the views of local residents and organisations as to whether they think any of the issues and planning considerations set out above are prevalent in East Lothian and whether this would merit the introduction of control areas. These views are being gathered through this online survey on the East Lothian Consultation Hub. 

Why your views matter

By taking part in this consultation, you will be providing valuable information that will assist East Lothian Council in our decision-making on the need for Short Term Let Control Areas.  

What happens next

Consultation on Short Term Let Control Areas in East Lothian has now closed.  Thank you to everyone who participated.  


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