Skip to main content

Development Planning

Scotland’s planning system is plan-led. The ‘purpose of planning’ is “to manage the development and use of land in the long term public interest”.

Development plans set out how places will change into the future, including the long term vision for where development should and shouldn’t happen. Development plans show where new homes and workplaces will be built, how services and facilities such as schools and travel will be provided, and identify the places and buildings we value and want to protect.

The development plan comprises:

  • The National Planning Framework (NPF), which covers all of Scotland. The current NPF, NPF4, was adopted in February 2023.
  • The local development plan (LDP) for each planning authority area. Each of Scotland's 32 local authorities and the two national park authorities are designated planning authorities and are required to prepare an LDP.

Together these will be the main basis for all planning decisions.

Significant changes to development planning were made by the Planning (Scotland) 2019 Act. The Development Planning work package included implementation of provisions relating to:


Local Development Planning

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.

More detail about local development planning is available online


How we got here/Consultation

We consulted on proposals for the secondary legislation and draft guidance.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  • Part C – Draft Guidance on Local Development Planning: This sets out draft guidance for stakeholders on: (Section 1) the overall aims and expectations for new style local development plans; (Section 2) the process of how to achieve a new style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.

A separate consultation on the definition of Gypsies and Travellers, for the purpose of engagement on LDP Evidence Reports, ran between December 2022 and February 2023. Targeted in-person engagement took place with Travelling community members, with one early engagement session in November and three consultation events in February. The online consultation received 41 responses from members of various Travelling communities, representative bodies and local authorities.

The responses informed the development of the final regulations. The Policy Note provides details of the regulations’ provisions, the consultation to inform the Regulations and of the impact assessments carried out.





Engagement prior to the Planning (Scotland) Bill


December 2019 - October 2020

Development Planning Working Group and Sub-Groups


March 2021

Development Planning Working Group Outputs




December 2021 – end of March 2022

Consultation on the proposed LDP regulations and guidance




December 2022 and February 2023

Consultation on the definition of Gypsies and Travellers


March 2023

Development planning regulations made and laid in Parliament

19 May 2023

Regulations came into force:

The Town and Country Planning (Development Planning) (Scotland) Regulations 2023

The Planning (Scotland) Act 2019 (Commencement No.12 and Saving and Transitional Provisions) Regulations 2023

24 May 2023

Local Development Planning Guidance published



Draft NPF4 logo

National Planning Framework 4

Read the adopted NPF4 on

Last Updated: 21 Feb 2024