Planning and architecture

We operate Scotland's planning system and are responsible for the development and implementation of national policy on planning, architecture and place.

Planning makes an important contribution towards each of the National Outcomes that describe the kind of Scotland we want. See how our work contributes.

Applications for planning permission and related appeals can be made on the website.

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Our role within planning in Scotland is wide and varied, and includes:


Planning supports the design and delivery of high-quality, successful places which are distinctive, safe, pleasant, welcoming, adaptable, resource efficient and easy to navigate. Distinctive high-quality places are vital to the social, environmental and economic success of our cities, towns and rural communities, and to our health and wellbeing.

National Planning Framework

Scotland’s fourth National Planning Framework (NPF4) was adopted and published on 13 February 2023.  It is now part of the statutory development plan, while also replacing NPF3 and Scottish Planning Policy.

NPF4 sets the context for development planning in Scotland and provides a framework for the spatial development of Scotland as a whole, together with identifying 18 national developments. Regional Spatial Priorities set out how each part of the country can use its assets and opportunities to help deliver the overall strategy. National planning policy sets out our policy framework by topic under the three themes of sustainable, liveable and productive places.

Bills and legislation

Town and Country Planning (Scotland) Act 1997

The main primary legislation setting the structure of the planning system is the Town and Country Planning (Scotland) Act 1997. That Act has been amended by the Planning (Scotland) Act 2019.

Planning (Scotland) Act 2019

The Planning (Scotland) Act 2019 was passed by the Scottish Parliament in June 2019. It contains a broad range of changes to our planning system which are currently being implemented. These include the National Planning Framework (NPF) being amalgamated with Scottish Planning Policy (SPP), with enhanced status as part of the statutory development plan. Scotland's fourth National Planning Framework provides a combined strategic policy and spatial perspective. 

Find out more about the implementation of the Planning (Scotland) Act 2019 and our wider planning reform programme on our dedicated Transforming Planning website.



Twitter: @ScotGovPlanning

Blog: Planning and Architecture blog

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Area 2-F (South)
Planning and Architecture Division
The Scottish Government
Victoria Quay

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