Supporting the planning system

Consultations on resourcing, skills and changes for major developments.

The public and businesses are being asked to give their views on three consultations looking to improve the resilience and flexibility of the planning system.

The first consultation explores options to better resource planning and is seeking views on giving planning authorities the power to set fees locally, increase fees each year in line with inflation and introduce fees for certain services, such as processing agreements and appeals.

Ideas for increasing the number of skilled planners are also being sought, building on proposals already being considered to broaden routes into a career in planning and the preparation of a skills strategy. Creating a more robust funding model and increasing workforce numbers will benefit users of the planning system by reducing decision timescales and improving service quality.

The second consultation asks about regulations that would give planning authorities the option of creating Masterplan Consent Areas. These areas, which could cover either sites or specific developments such as housing in defined areas, would come with consents granted up-front for projects considered to be of most local benefit. This would simplify consenting for developers and provide certainty, making it easier for them to secure investment.

Proposals for regulations that would allow the National Planning Framework and Local Development Plans to be amended in response to newly emerging or urgent matters, such as changes to energy policy, are the subject of the third consultation. It asks about appropriate notification and consultation requirements if amendments are proposed prior to the formal reviews that take place every 10 years.

This month marks the first anniversary of the fourth National Planning Framework (NPF4), which sets out measures to improve people’s lives by making sustainable, liveable and productive places. The consultations build on NPF4 and the Planning (Scotland) Act 2019.

Planning Minister Joe FitzPatrick said:

“Planning makes a difference to all of our lives because it is a powerful tool for transforming our towns and cities. It can inspire people to get involved in shaping their neighbourhoods, and protect and enhance our environment.

“Over the last year, I have heard a lot about the challenges facing the system. To deliver change responsibly and effectively we need a robust, well-resourced and streamlined planning system to take the sort of decisive action that will make a real difference to people and places.

“NPF4, a turning point for planning in Scotland, was a product of collaboration and we are committed working with the public and partners as we deliver the next stage of our ambitious programme of work. As we mark the first anniversary of NPF4, we look forward to hearing views on the proposals in these consultations.”


Investing in Planning – a consultation on resourcing Scotland’s planning system. The deadline for responding is Friday 31 May 2024.

Development plan amendment regulations: consultation. The deadline for responding is Wednesday 22 May 2024.

Masterplan Consent Area regulations: consultation. The deadline for responding is Wednesday 22 May 2024.

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