National Planning Policy in Scotland
The Scottish Government is responsible for the development and implementation of the legislative framework of the planning system in Scotland, setting out the strategy for Scotland's future development and policies on key planning issues and promoting good practice across the planning system.
In particular it:
- maintains and develops primary and secondary planning legislation
- prepares and monitors the delivery of the National Planning Framework (NPF4) which includes clear and proportionate planning policy and advice.
National Planning Framework 4 (NPF4) : Scotland 2045
The National Planning Framework is a long-term spatial plan for Scotland with an outlook to 2045. It sets out Ministers' policies and proposals for the development and use of land and should be read as a whole.
Scotland's 4th National Planning Framework (NPF4) was approved by the Scottish Parliament in January 2023 and adopted on 13 February 2023.
On adoption, it became part of the statutory development plan, giving it increased status when compared to its predecessor, and NPF now has a stronger role in day-to-day planning decision making.
Adoption of NPF4 was also the trigger for Strategic Development Plans (SDP) to cease to have effect. SDPs are no longer part of the development plan.
NPF4 has incorporated and updated what had previously been a stand-alone document Scottish Planning Policy (2014). NPF4 now contains detailed national policy on a number of planning topics and for the first time, spatial and thematic planning policies are addressed in one place.
NPF4 is also recognised as one of the key documents that will help inform the next iteration of Local Development Plans, in particular establishing baseline Minimum All-tenure Housing Land Requirements (MATHLR) which must be reflected in the amount and location of deliverable land for future housing development to be identified in LDPs.
There is a statutory requirement that NPF4 contributes to 6 specific outcomes:
- Meeting the housing needs of people living in Scotland including, in particular, the housing needs for older people and disabled people;
- Improving the health and wellbeing of people living in Scotland;
- Increasing the population of rural areas of Scotland;
- Improving equality and eliminating discrimination;
- Meeting any targets relating to the reduction of emissions of greenhouse gases; and;
- Securing positive effects for biodiversity.
The most distinctive characteristics of NPF4 is that it has been purposefully designed to help achieve a net zero, sustainable Scotland by 2045 and to secure positive effects for biodiversity and nature recovery.
To find out more about NPF4, please visit the National Planning Framework - Transforming Planning website
The Planning Scotland Bill was introduced to Parliament on 4 December 2017 and subsequently received Royal Assent on 29 July 2019.
It was central to a package of measures intended to strengthen the planning system's contribution to inclusive growth and empowering communities. The Act set out a series of proposed high level changes to the overall framework under which planning operates. Of particular significance were proposals to combine the National Planning Framework (NPF) and Scottish Planning Policy (SPP) in order to better reflect national and regional priorities and to make local development planning simpler.
NPF4 was subsequently adopted and published on 13 February 2023.
If you have any questions relating to the Development Plan process or just want to provide feedback and comments on our service, please email the Development Planning & Environment team at firstname.lastname@example.org . You can also write to us at Development Planning & Environment, West Lothian Civic Centre, Howden South Road, Livingston, West Lothian EH54 6FF
This page was last updated: 13 February 2023