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National Planning Framework for Scotland




182. The National Planning Framework is not a comprehensive master plan or fixed blueprint. Instead it offers a perspective on Scotland's long-term spatial development. The Executive and its agencies are not in control of all the factors driving change. Some changes must be seen in the context of European enlargement and globalisation. Others reflect the cumulative effect of decisions made by individuals and businesses. But the decisions that the Executive and its agencies make can and do affect the potential of places.

183. Much development is already underway. In addition, as a result of expenditure commitments, for example on transport, and decisions on planning applications and appeals, much of what will happen in our cities, towns and rural areas over the next 5 to 10 years is already fairly clear. Beyond that there are important choices facing Scotland. Some parts of the country have a buoyant economy and that is placing significant strains on existing infrastructure. Other areas have experienced sustained decline but a co-ordinated approach to regeneration can bring genuine economic, social and environmental benefits and close the opportunity gap between places. Striking the balance in policy, expenditure and Executive action can involve difficult choices, but we must take decisions in Scotland's long-term interest.

184. In particular, a more systematic approach is required to decision-making on strategic infrastructure provision. Major infrastructure projects are expensive and can have big impacts on people's lives. They can raise the ability of places to compete but are essentially irreversible. That is why decisions must be careful and considered.

185. The publication of the National Planning Framework marks the start of a process of engagement and debate on Scotland's long-term spatial development. We intend to update the framework every 4 years and will present the second framework to Parliament early in the life of the next administration. Meantime, the framework will be taken forward through:

  • the statutory planning system, community planning and the programmes of the Enterprise Networks;
  • factoring strategic spatial development considerations into the future spending priorities of the Executive, Communities Scotland and Scottish Water and the work of the Ministerial Group on Regeneration;
  • taking spatial issues into account in policies and strategies such as the updated Framework for Economic Development in Scotland;
  • investing in transport, water and drainage and telecommunications infrastructure;
  • strengthening the grid, setting targets and preparing action plans to support renewable energy development;
  • implementation of the National Waste Plan;
  • progressing the West Edinburgh Planning Framework and the regeneration of the Clyde Waterfront and Clyde Gateway; and
  • the review of strategic transport projects and the use of modelling and other appraisal tools to assess policy and project options.

186. The National Planning Framework recognises Scotland's position in the changing geography of Europe and highlights its environmental qualities and the connections between Scotland's places. The value of our environmental and cultural resources is embodied in our land and people. Both work better when they are working together.