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Development Planning

The Development Planning work package includes implementation of Planning (Scotland) Act 2019 provisions relating to:

  • Purpose of planning
  • National Planning Framework / Scottish Planning Policy
  • Local Development Plans

The provisions on the Purpose of Planning and the National Planning Framework were among the first sections of the 2019 Act to be brought into force.

  • The Purpose of Planning is “to manage the development and use of land in the long term public interest”,
  • With the legislation in place, work is progressing on the preparation of Scotland’s fourth National Planning Framework (NPF4).

Local Development Planning - Regulations and Guidance Consultation

Local Development Plans (LDPs) set out how our local places will change into the future, including where development should and should not happen.  They form part of the statutory ‘development plan’ and will, alongside the National Planning Framework, be the main basis for all decisions on planning applications.

There is strong support for a plan-led planning system in Scotland. Our planning reforms have sought to strengthen and simplify LDPs.  We want a new approach to preparing plans that will result in #newstyleplans that support the management and use of land in the long term public interest. 

Significant changes to development planning were made by the Planning (Scotland) 2019 Act. To guide implementation of these changes we consulted on proposals for secondary legislation and draft guidance. The consultation was informed by input from the Development Planning Working Group.

The consultation documents included:

  • Part A – Introduction: This provides an overview of the consultation, including context, structure, details of the consultation process and highlights the impact assessment work.
  • Part B – Proposals for Development Planning Regulations: This sets out proposals for secondary legislation and includes Draft Regulations.
  • Part C – Draft Guidance on Local Development Planning: This sets out draft guidance for stakeholders on: (Section 1) the overall aims and expectations for new style local development plans; (Section 2) the process of how to achieve a new style plan; and (Section 3) detailed thematic guidance on how new style plans are to implement policies in National Planning Framework 4.
  • Part D – Interim Impact Assessments: This includes the associated impact assessments: Business and Regulatory Impact Assessment (BRIA); Equalities Impact Assessment, covering human rights (EQIA); Child Rights and Wellbeing Impact Assessment (CRWIA); Island Communities Impact Assessment (ICIA); Fairer Scotland Duty (FSD) Assessment; and Strategic Environmental Assessment screening (SEA).
  • A list of the consultation questions - PDF (244kB)

The consultation closed on 31 March 2022, and we received 87 responses.  Where consent was given to publish the response, these are available to read on the Scottish Government’s consultation website.

We also commissioned independent analysis of the responses, which found that respondents were generally supportive of the proposed Guidance and Regulations, with a series of comments on the detailed wording.  More detail is available in the Analysis Report.

We are currently considering the responses, which will inform the development of the final regulations and accompanying guidance.

Transitional Arrangements

This Transitional Arrangements Guidance - PDF (458kB) (Nov, 2020) provides advice about the intentions for the transitional arrangements to allow for a smooth changeover from current to new development planning processes. It also informs of the likely timing of changes to the existing legislation. Updates will be provided should there be any change to the intentions set out within this guidance, to support the introduction of the new system.

Draft NPF4 logo

The Revised Draft National Planning Framework 4

Read the revised draft on

Last Updated: 14 Dec 2022