We operate Scotland's planning system and are responsible for the development and implementation of national policy on planning, architecture and place.
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Coronavirus (COVID-19) and planning
The Chief Planner and the Minister for Local Government, Housing and Planning wrote on 3 April 2020, 29 May 2020, 18 December 2020, 22 March 2021 and on 8 November 2021 in relation to implications for Scotland's planning system as a result of COVID-19 and the resultant need for physical distancing. These letters outline some steps and actions to ensure planning can continue to operate during these times and play a vital role towards economic and societal recovery.
The Coronavirus (Scotland) Act 2020 includes provisions relevant to the operation of the planning system. This guidance for stakeholders explains the provisions of the Act.
The Coronavirus (Scotland) Act 2020 and Coronavirus (Scotland) (No.2) Act 2020 provided for the extension of the duration of planning permission, listed building consent and conservation area consent. Where such duration would otherwise expire before the end of the specified ‘emergency period’ (now 30 September 2022), it is extended to the end of the ‘extended period’ (now 31 March 2023). In relation to applications for approval of conditions attached to a planning permission in principle, if the last date for making an application for an approval is within the emergency period, then the time limit for making such an application will be 6 months from the end of the emergency period.
Regulations were introduced to enable specified aspects of the planning system to continue to operate. The intention is to roll forward some of these provisions until 30 September 2022. This includes a suspension of the requirement for physical public events within pre-application consultation (PAC) during this current period. There will need to be some alternative online engagement with local communities so that people can still have an opportunity to influence proposals that affect them. This guidance on pre-application consultations for public events (April 2020) explains more. The coming into force of 2021 Regulations introducing new PAC requirements is therefore to be postponed until 1 October 2022. To this effect, Regulations in SSI 2022/66 and SSI 2022/67 came into effect on 30 March 2022. Work will, however, continue on guidance to accompany the postponed changes.
The requirement to hold local review body meetings in public was reinstated from 1 October 2021.
It is also important that the development planning process continues to function during this period to support future economic and societal recovery. The current situation has consequences for how development plans are progressed and in particular how planning authorities consult and engage with stakeholders. This advice note and Chief Planner letter explains more about Ministers expectations.
Permitted development orders relating to development by local authorities and health service bodies and by the Crown, grant temporary planning permission for certain developments to support the national response to COVID-19. For example temporary hospital facilities, testing centres, vaccination centres or other emergency related purposes.
We continue to liaise with stakeholders about the implications of COVID-19 for the planning system and any further legislation or other actions needed.
Our role within planning in Scotland is wide and varied, and includes:
- overseeing the Scottish planning system
- reforming the planning system to strengthen its contribution to inclusive growth, to delivering housing and infrastructure and to empowering communities to influence future development of their areas
- ministerial involvement in planning decisions
- monitoring development plans for their compliance with national policies on planning, architecture and place
- maintaining the development management process for making decisions on planning applications
- managing the ePlanning Service , which enables online submission of planning applications, appeals and other permissions required under planning law
- encouraging community involvement in the design and planning of local places
- promoting quality and encouraging and recognising good practice in planning design and service performance
- producing planning guidance on the implementation of legislation or procedures
- determining planning and environmental appeals against decisions made by planning authorities and other bodies
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 / Scottish Planning Policy
The current (third) National Planning Framework (NPF) was published in 2014, and sets the context for development planning in Scotland and provides a framework for the spatial development of Scotland as a whole.
Our current Scottish Planning Policy (SPP) was also published in 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.
Bills and legislation
The Coronavirus (Scotland) Act 2020 came into force on 7 April 2020. The Act includes provisions relevant to the operation of the planning system. Those include:
- extending duration of planning permissions about to expire
- publishing planning documents online rather than at physical locations
- allowing authorities to exclude people from meetings for public health reasons
This guidance for stakeholders explains the provisions of the Act.
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 recently 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 will provide 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 at our dedicated website www.transformingplanning.scot.
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Telephone: 0131 244 7528
Area 2-F (South)
Planning and Architecture Division
The Scottish Government