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

Planning should support 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.

In July 2019 we published a letter from the Chief Planner providing an update on current workstreams being taken forward by Planning and Architecture Division.

Applications for planning permission can be made on the ePlanning Scot  website. 



Scottish Planning Policy (SPP) aims to increase sustainable economic growth, which is the main purpose of the Scottish Government. This means that the planning system should help build a growing economy, but at the same time protect our environment for future generations and make sure that communities can enjoy a better quality of life.

Our aim is to support the design, planning and delivery of places where people prosper. ‘Infrastructure, Development and Place’ is one of the central themes of our Economic Strategy.

National Planning Framework

The current (third) National Planning Framework (NPF) was published in June 2014, and sets the context for development planning in Scotland and provides a framework for the spatial development of Scotland as a whole.

We are reviewing the National Planning Framework from summer 2019. Find out more on Twitter: @scotplan

Scottish Planning Policy

Our current Scottish Planning Policy (SPP) was published in June 2014. It sets out national planning policies which reflect Scottish Ministers’ priorities for the operation of the planning system and for the development and use of land. It contains overarching policies that promote sustainability and placemaking as well as subject-specific planning policies

We are reviewing the Scottish Planning Policy from summer 2019.

Important documents

  • 'A Guide to the Planning System in Scotland' sets out the basic principles of the planning system.
  • 'Creating Places', published in 2013, is the Scottish Government’s policy statement on architecture and place. It contains policies and guidance on the importance of architecture and design.
  • 'Designing Streets' published in 2010, was the first policy statement in Scotland for street design, and marked a change in emphasis by putting place and people before the movement of motor vehicles.

Bills and legislation

The 2006 Town and Country Planning (Scotland) Act brought about the most significant modernisation of the planning system in Scotland in over 60 years. The aim of the Act is to ensure a planning service that is efficient, inclusive, fit for purpose and sustainable.

Primary legislation

The main pieces of legislation which the planning system operates under are:

Planning (Scotland) Act 2019

The Planning (Scotland) Act 2019 received Royal Assent in July 2019. It proposes that the National Planning Framework (NPF) be amalgamated with Scottish Planning Policy (SPP) and have enhanced status as part of the statutory development plan. A revised document will provide a combined strategic policy and spatial perspective and will form a part of local authorities’ development plans.

Secondary legislation

Since the 2006 Act, various pieces of secondary legislation have been brought in to implement the provisions within the act. These regulations are supported by Circulars which provide an explanation of the relevant regulations. Circulars are available on the relevant pages in this section and on the producing planning guidance page.


Email: chief.planner@gov.scot

Twitter: @ScotGovPlanning

Blog: Planning and Architecture blog

Telephone: 0131 244 7528

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