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 (NPF) •provides clear and proportionate planning policy and advice (SPP).

National Planning Framework 3 (NPF3) : A Plan for Scotland: Ambition, Opportunity, Place

The National Planning Framework is a long term plan for Scotland that sets out where development and infrastructure is needed to support sustainable and inclusive growth. Scotland's third National Planning Framework was published by the Scottish Government in June 2014 and is the spatial expression of the Scottish Government's Economic Strategy.

NPF3 brings together plans and strategies in economic development, regeneration, energy, environment, climate change, transport and digital infrastructure to provide a coherent vision of how Scotland should evolve over the next 20 to 30 years and will help to inform future policies and prioritise investment decisions.

NPF3 sets the context for development planning in Scotland and there is an explicit requirement for planning authorities to take it into account when preparing strategic and local development plans and in subsequent development management decisions.

The 4 Key Planning outcomes for Scotland are;

  • A successful sustainable place - supporting economic growth, regeneration and the creation of well-designed places;
  • A low carbon place - reducing our carbon emissions and adapting to climate change;
  • A natural resilient place - helping to protect and enhance our natural cultural assets and facilitating their sustainable use; and
  • A connected place - supporting better transport and digital connectivity

NPF3 identifies 14 'national developments', which are considered by the Scottish Government to be essential to Scotland's strategic spatial development. Those impacting on West Lothian include the Central Scotland Green Network and High Speed Rail.


UPDATE: Draft National Planning Framework 4 (Draft NPF4) : Scotland to 2045

Now that the Planning (Scotland) Act 2019 has been enacted a key endeavour of the Scottish Government has been the preparation of the next National Planning Framework (NPF4).

The Scottish Government has concluded the process of reviewing NPF3 and the Draft Fourth National Planning Framework (Draft NPF4) was laid in the Scottish Parliament on 10 November 2021 and will be considered for a period of up to 120 days.

Draft NPF4 sets out the Scottish Government's priorities and policies for the planning system up to 2045 and how their approach to planning and development will help to achieve a net zero, sustainable Scotland by then. It establishes a vision and a long-term spatial strategy for the whole country.

Draft NPF4 also incorporates a revised suite of national planning policies on a number of topics and replaces the previous Scottish Planning Policy (SPP 2014). For the first time spatial and thematic planning policies will be addressed in one place and they will form part of the statutory development plan.

Once approved by the Scottish Parliament (expected during 2022), NPF4 will directly influence planning decisions and will inform the preparation of the next round of Local Development Plans. When finalised, it is intended that NPF4 will also be underpinned with a clear delivery programme.

For the time being however, the current National Planning Framework 3 (NPF3) and SPP 2014 remain in force.

To find out more about Draft NPF4 or engage in the consultation, please visit the National Planning Framework - Transforming Planning website


Scottish Planning Policy (SPP 2014)

Scottish Planning Policy is a non-statutory statement of Scottish Government Policy on how nationally important land use planning matters should be addressed across Scotland.

It sets out national planning policies which reflect Scottish Ministers priorities for how the planning system should work and for the development and use of land. The overarching aim of the planning system under SPP is to achieve sustainable economic growth.

The SPP promotes consistency in the application of policy across Scotland whilst allowing sufficient flexibility to reflect local circumstances. SPP was published in June 2014.

Scottish Planning Policy (SPP) is a 'material consideration' to be taken account of in the preparation of development plans and when planning authorities determine planning applications. It sits alongside the National Planning Framework for Scotland (NPF3) in the policy hierarchy.


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 . You can also write to us at Development Planning & Environment, West Lothian Civic Centre, Howden South Road, Livingston, West Lothian EH54 6FF or phone 01506 280000.

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