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National spatial strategy

The national spatial strategy sets out a shared vision for the planned development of Scotland

The national spatial strategy sets out a shared vision where each part of Scotland can be planned and developed to create:

  • Sustainable places - where we reduce emissions, restore and better connect biodiversity
  • Liveable places – where we can live better, healthier lives
  • Productive places - where we have a greener, fairer and more inclusive wellbeing economy
  • Distinctive places - where we recognise and work with our assets

Underpinning the national spatial strategy are a series of spatial principles which comprise:

  • compact growth
  • local living
  • balanced development
  • conserving and recycling assets
  • urban and rural synergy
  • just transition

The spatial strategy highlights the following five action areas :

There is also an overall map showing the five action areas - PDF (708KB)

Development of the national spatial strategy has been informed by early work that has considered the preparation of indicative Regional Spatial Strategies.

Regional Spatial Strategies

The Planning (Scotland) Act 2019 establishes a duty for a planning authority, or authorities acting jointly, to prepare and adopt a Regional Spatial Strategy (RSS). Whilst this new duty is yet to be enacted, the review of the National Planning Framework (NPF) has presented an opportunity to develop early thinking on Regional Spatial Strategies to help inform the preparation of the NPF4.

A factsheet and summary each set out further background about how initial work to prepare indicative Regional Spatial Strategies (iRSS) has been taken forward:

The new duty to produce Regional Spatial Strategies will be enacted with the publication of statutory guidance which we anticipate will be in place later in 2022. 

Once the duty is enacted it will be for planning authorities, individually or jointly, to finalise and adopt their RSS after the NPF4 has been approved. 

Regional to National: Early thinking

Having established a platform of understanding for this emerging work, a series of collaborative ‘charrete-style’ events considered how the early regional thinking might scale up to inform options for a national spatial strategy.

This activity was facilitated by Kevin Murray Associates (KMA) and this blog describes KMA’s impressions of this way of ‘on-line’ working (PDF 112KB).

The KMA blog also references a series of summary bulletins which are available through the following links:

The output from the events helped inform the proposed national spatial strategy along with five strategic focus areas. 

Draft NPF4 logo

The Draft National Planning Framework 4

Read the draft on

Last Updated: 22 Jun 2022