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Work Programme

The Planning (Scotland) Act 2019  sets the future structure of the modernised planning system.  The new Act includes a broad range of changes to be made across the planning system including: 

  • arrangements for the preparation of development plans
  • proactive masterplanning
  • development management procedures and considerations
  • strengthening enforcement
  • a focus on improved performance and positive outcomes

The detail of how our reformed planning system will work in practice will be contained within secondary legislation and guidance, and we are working towards that now. 

Our Transforming Planning in Practice (September 2019) work programme had set out how we would engage stakeholders and implement most of the changes to the planning system by 2021. However, much of this work had since been paused as a result of the Covid-19 emergency, so that we can ensure people can continue to be involved in these crucial improvements to our planning system.

We have prioritised some elements of the reform programme that we can progress in advance of the Scottish Parliament election next May.

Here’s an outline of what to expect over the coming months:

Coming next

We recently consulted on new and amended permitted development rights for digital telecommunications infrastructure, agricultural development, peatland restoration and development related to active travel. We expect to bring forward legislation before the end of the year. This is phase 1 of a wide review of permitted development rights. We propose that the next phase will include changes that encourage vitality in town centres.

Following a recent consultation on the designation of Short-Term Let Control Areas, we have laid draft regulations in the Scottish Parliament covering the arrangements for the designation, variation and cancellation of short-term let control areas, alongside a related order for a licensing scheme for short-term lets.  Subject to the approval of the Scottish Parliament, the Short-Term let Control Area Regulations and the Licensing Order will come into force on 1 April 2021. 

Our proposed changes to pre-application consultation requirements are intended to clarify expectations and improve the quality of local consultation, including a second mandatory public event.  This is the first part of a wider package of measures to enhance community engagement in planning.  This consultation has closed and we will introduce the legislation soon.

We are consulting on new guidance on the promotion and use of mediation in planning, and are inviting responses by 12 March 2021. The Act requires the finalised guidance to be in place by July 2021.

Regulations will refine the content and process requirements for community bodies preparing their own local place plans, and for how those plans are handled through the planning system. We will consult on proposals for local place plan regulations in early 2021.

We will also consult in early 2021 on the details of the new development planning system; including the arrangements for open space strategies and play sufficiency assessments.  Consulting early next year will allow us to have the regulations ready in good time before NPF4 is adopted.


Other aspects of the Planning Act, including changes to development management, the introduction of masterplan consent areas and the performance and training provisions, will not be implemented before next year’s election.

We will say more about the scheduling of the remainder of the programme as soon as we can.

Last Updated: 29 Dec 2020

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