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What is the National Planning Framework?

The Draft National Planning Framework was laid in Parliament on 10th Nov 2021.

The National Planning Framework (NPF) is a long term plan for Scotland that sets out where development and infrastructure is needed. 

Scotland’s fourth National Planning Framework (NPF4) will be a long term plan looking to 2045 that will guide spatial development, set out national planning policies, designate national developments and highlight regional spatial priorities.

It will be part of the development plan, and so influence planning decisions across Scotland.


The current National Planning Framework (NPF3)and Scottish Planning Policy (SPP), both published in 2014, will remain in place until NPF4 is adopted by Scottish Ministers. 

In 2020, we started work on the preparation of NPF4.

NPF4 will be different to NPF3. It will have increased status and be part of the statutory development plan, meaning that its policies will have a stronger role in day-to-day planning decision making.

NPF4 will incorporate updated Scottish Planning Policy which will contain detailed national policy on a number of planning topics. For the first time, spatial and thematic planning policies will be addressed in one place.

Process for developing NPF4

During January to April 2020 we sought early views on NPF4 through our 'Call for Ideas', inviting stakeholders to consider Scotland in 2045 and reflecting on planning policy changes and national developments needed to get us there.

In November 2020, we published our Position Statement which reflected on the Call for Ideas and set out thinking on potential policy changes. We invited comment on the Position Statement content to inform the draft NPF4.

As part of our work on NPF4, we have been working with local authorities and other partners, to take forward early thinking on the potential for Regional Spatial Strategies (RSS). This opportunity has allowed us to factor in regional priorities into the draft NPF4 spatial strategy.

Draft NPF4 Consultation

On 10 November 2021, we laid the Draft NPF4 in the Scottish Parliament. Alongside Parliamentary scrutiny of the draft, we ran a public consultation to invite comments on the content of the draft. Following the consultation at the end of the Parliamentary scrutiny process, we will analyse the published responses and produce a final NPF4.

The final adoption date will depend on the approval of NPF4 by the Scottish Parliament, but we are currently aiming to lay a finalised version for approval by Autumn 2022.

Draft NPF4 logo

The Draft National Planning Framework 4

Read the draft on

Last Updated: 02 Sep 2022