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National Planning Framework for Scotland




98. The key elements of the spatial strategy to 2025 are:

  • to support the development of Scotland's cities as the main drivers of the economy;
  • to spread the benefits of economic activity by promoting environmental quality and connectivity;
  • to enable the most disadvantaged communities to benefit from growth and opportunity;
  • to strengthen external links;
  • to promote economic diversification and environmental stewardship;
  • to highlight long-term transport options and promote more sustainable patterns
    of transport and land use;
  • to invest in water and drainage infrastructure to support development;
  • to realise the potential of Scotland's renewable energy resources;
  • to provide the facilities to meet waste recycling targets; and
  • to extend broadband coverage in every area of Scotland.

99. The Cities Review emphasised the importance of Scotland's cities as growth centres.
If our cities are to be competitive places attracting high value jobs and creative people, they will have to be well connected and able to offer distinctive, high quality environments and a first-class quality of life. Good air links, the presence of centres of academic excellence, and well-developed social and cultural facilities are essential parts of the package. Attractive, lively places also provide the basis for a strong tourism and leisure economy. Edinburgh and Glasgow are already major tourism gateways and Aberdeen and Inverness have potential to develop that role. We need an approach to city region development which promotes environmental quality, local and regional distinctiveness, connectivity and the efficient and sustainable use of resources.

100. The cities are the hubs of wider regional economies and their surrounding towns and rural areas can offer attractive locations for a wide range of economic activities. As a basis for prioritising investment, Scottish Enterprise has identified business locations which have the potential to become the focus for key industries and clusters. These locations can be grouped into the following broad economic development zones (see Map 15):


  • Clyde Corridor
  • Lanarkshire
  • Central Ayrshire
  • Central Scotland
  • West Edinburgh/South Fife
  • Lothian
  • Dundee
  • Aberdeen.

In the Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) area, Inverness and Inner Moray Firth is a zone with similar characteristics. In addition, HIE is placing a strong emphasis on supporting economic and community development in fragile areas on the West Coast and in the Northern Isles. It is essential that investment in new or improved infrastructure takes account of economic development priorities.

101. To be successful, economic development zones will require to have good links to the rest of Scotland and the wider world. The strategic business locations which they contain will need to be well connected with each other and readily accessible from residential areas. It will be important to ensure that people in areas undergoing community regeneration enjoy good access to the opportunities being created in strategic business locations. If Scotland is to be attractive as a business location and tourism destination, we shall need to promote high quality environments and good transport interchange facilities at our air, rail and sea gateways.

102. An important element of economic strategy is the promotion of synergies between clusters of related industries. The Enterprise Network is focusing on seven clusters - biotechnology, creative industries, microelectronics, optoelectronics, food and drink, forest industries, and tourism. The spatial dimension of the relationship between businesses within a cluster is important. The planning system should ensure that business and industrial land allocations take account of opportunities to foster the development of clusters and facilitate the provision of supporting infrastructure.

103. There is scope for spreading the benefits of economic activity more widely. This will involve providing more areas with the connectivity and environmental quality they need to participate successfully in the modern economy. A more even spread of economic activity will help to relieve pressures in high growth areas such as Edinburgh, provide additional opportunities in areas such as Ayrshire, Inverclyde, West Dunbartonshire and Dundee, and improve the overall efficiency of the Scottish economy. Successful cities need to be supported by strong regions well connected to urban facilities and offering residential amenity, business environments and infrastructure which cannot be provided in the urban core, and a wide range of recreational opportunities.

104. National planning policy encourages the reuse of previously developed land in preference to greenfield land. However, while the highest levels of growth are expected in the East, vacant and derelict land is heavily concentrated in the West. There is therefore potentially much greater scope for accommodating new development on previously used land in Glasgow and the Clyde Valley than in Edinburgh and the Lothians and the City of Aberdeen, where a substantial proportion of new development will have to be on greenfield sites. Vacant and derelict land also offers important opportunities for environmental improvement through the development of green networks for people and wildlife.

photo105. Economic diversification is a key strategic aim. Encouraging a greater range of economic activity can help to reduce vulnerability to sectoral downturns, improve local investment levels and increase activity rates, spending power and vibrancy, so attracting more people to live and work in the area. A commitment to place-making, environmental improvement and connectivity and a flexible and positive approach to land allocations and the use of buildings are important elements of a diversification strategy. Efficient city region public transport systems will be needed to support a more flexible labour market.

106. Good governance and community empowerment are essential elements of successful place-making. A distinctive identity, building on local traditions and developing local speciality products, can help to restore the sense of pride and community which makes places safe and attractive environments in which to live. Tackling derelict land, improving physical infrastructure and upgrading environmental quality can help to promote environmental justice and provide employment opportunities for those less well equipped to participate in the knowledge economy.

107. In March 2003, the Executive published the West Edinburgh Planning Framework to ensure a co-ordinated approach to land use and transport issues in one of the fastest growing parts of the country. The Clyde Corridor and the Western Isles are two other areas where co-ordinated action is required in the national interest (see Spatial Perspectives).

108. While much can be done to improve the competitiveness of places throughout Scotland, some of the companies which might be attracted to the Edinburgh area could not easily be located elsewhere. For some headquarters functions, the choice may be between Edinburgh and a prestige location in England or overseas. However, high land values, skill shortages and congestion in the more pressured areas will drive some businesses to consider alternative locations. Glasgow's success in creating new jobs in the service industries and a new financial district on the Broomielaw illustrates the potential in the West. Public-sector employment makes an important contribution to the economy and the Executive is committed to ensuring that its relocation policy continues to distribute the economic benefits of government activity more widely (see Map 16).


109. Tourism and leisure activities can make an important contribution to the development of the Scottish economy. The Executive is seeking to attract international sporting and cultural events to Scotland under the Event Scotland programme. It is committed to investment in the improvement of national and regional sports facilities, including the development of six indoor multi-sport facilities serving the Central, East of Scotland, West of Scotland, Highland, Grampian and Tayside and Fife areas. The Executive will also continue to support the conservation and promotion of the historic environment as a key feature of Scotland's tourism potential.

110. Across Scotland there is already a plentiful supply of land for business and industrial development. Knowledge economy businesses are generally less demanding than the older industries in terms of space and land requirements. Many office-based activities are compatible with residential and other uses and therefore relatively easy to integrate into mixed use developments within the existing urban fabric. Against that background, regeneration in urban areas is likely to open up opportunities for the reallocation of some of the current industrial land supply. The majority of business locations have already been identified. The planning challenge is to identify locational priorities, promote efficient transport and communications networks, secure improvements in the quality of places, and ensure adequate provision of all types of housing.