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National Planning Framework for Scotland




86. The key aims of the strategy for Scotland's spatial development to 2025 are:

  • to increase economic growth and competitiveness;
  • to promote social and environmental justice; and
  • to promote sustainable development and protect and enhance the quality of natural and built environments.


photo87. A Partnership for a Better Scotland identifies raising the long-term sustainable growth rate of the Scottish economy as the Executive's top priority. The strategy being pursued by the enterprise networks in promoting economic growth was set out in A Smart, Successful Scotland published in 2001. The aim is to create a knowledge-driven economy capable of meeting the challenges of a highly competitive global environment. The intention is to focus more on skills and innovation. Progress towards a more competitive position will be based on a skilled workforce, creativity and enterprise and the transfer of knowledge into the market place. Scotland's universities, higher education institutions and further education colleges lie at the core of the strategy for developing the skills base necessary to support a knowledge-driven economy. Scotland: A Global Connections Strategy sets out the Executive's vision of a Scotland well connected economically, physically, digitally and intellectually to the rest of the world.


88. The Executive is committed to social justice and equality of opportunity. It wants a Scotland where everyone can enjoy a decent quality of life. The most direct way in which disadvantaged communities can be helped is by ensuring that the people who live in them have access to good quality jobs and opportunities. When new commitments are made to infrastructure and economic investment it will be important to ensure that the potential benefits for these communities are fully realised. A Partnership for a Better Scotland places emphasis on promoting clean and safe neighbourhoods, creating better living environments and regenerating communities where there are persistently high levels of unemployment. The planning system has a key role to play in promoting high quality neighbourhoods and environmental justice, and ensuring that all of Scotland's communities enjoy good access to jobs and services.

photo89. The integration of SIPs into the Community Planning framework should mean that regeneration funding can work more effectively alongside the mainstream provision of public services in disadvantaged areas. This integration, and the closer linking of communities to strategic decision-making, also offers the potential for more closely linking economic opportunities with action in neighbourhoods to help more people into jobs.

90. As far as spatial planning is concerned, there are two main issues:

  • ensuring that priorities for economic development are chosen in a way which takes account of the location of communities where the need for regeneration and renewal is most pressing; and
  • once long-term commitments to economic development have been made, timely investment is needed to ensure that hard to reach groups in disadvantaged areas are put in a position to benefit from the jobs and opportunities that will be created.

91. The Executive is committed to major investment in health and education to improve the quality of life and economic prospects of people throughout Scotland. This spending can be an important driver of change at regional and local levels and community and development planning will have crucial roles to play in ensuring that new health and education provision accords with wider strategic development objectives.

92. The Spatial Perspectives set out in the following section identify a number of key areas of change which either encompass, or are close to, communities where a major improvement in opportunities is needed. A Ministerial Group on Regeneration has been established to consider the Executive's future role in major regeneration projects. New delivery vehicles, such as regeneration companies and Urban Development Corporations, may have a part to play in achieving change.


93. Realising the vision set out in this framework will require a strong commitment to protecting and enhancing the natural, built and cultural environments, which are essential components of the quality of life of people living in Scotland and unique economic assets. Economic development must be closely integrated with the promotion of environmental quality. Areas of change must be seen as opportunities to create high quality environments.

94. In their rich diversity, Scotland's landscapes are a national treasure. They provide the context for our daily lives and are a major attraction for our tourist visitors. As settings for outdoor recreation they are a source of refreshment and inspiration for many. They bear witness to the activities of our forebears and are a critical element in defining Scotland's identity. However, landscapes evolve continuously in response to climatic, economic, social and technological change. The effect on landscape character will be an important consideration in decision-making on renewable energy developments. Major urban regeneration projects, the changes taking place in the rural economy and the restructuring of our forests offer strategic opportunities to improve landscape quality and repair past damage. The aim should be to build environmental capital and pass well-managed, high quality landscapes on to future generations.

95. The Executive has set a target of returning an additional 100 ha. of vacant and derelict land to productive use by 2006 and 20 million has been allocated to accelerate the process in Glasgow, North Lanarkshire and Dundee. The restoration of vacant and derelict land, former mineral workings and landfill sites offers important strategic opportunities for improving the environment and increasing biodiversity through the development of green networks and the expansion of urban, amenity and community woodlands. The Scottish Forestry Strategy contains a commitment to expanding woodlands around settlements to provide an improved landscape setting and widen recreational opportunities. Indicative Forestry Strategies can provide a valuable policy framework for this work.

96. The Executive is committed to an integrated approach to the management of water, including environmental protection, public health, flood risk management, the supply and drainage infrastructure required for development, and aquaculture. It has set a target of improving 315 km of poor or seriously polluted watercourses by 2007. The Water Environment and Water Services Act 2003 provides a framework for the sustainable management of water resources. A comprehensive system of River Basin Management Plans (RBMP) will be prepared, based on the analysis of human impacts on water systems. The plans, the first of which are expected in 2009, will set environmental objectives for individual bodies of water, to be delivered through pollution controls and will have implications for development plans. It will be important that decisions on the distribution of development take account of RBMPs and that they take account of planning issues.

97. The Executive intends to consult on the development of a strategy for protecting and enhancing Scotland's coast, including the options of building on existing policies and establishing a national coastline park and marine national parks. The spatial aspects of the strategy which emerges will be reflected in future revisions of the national planning framework.