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
We wrote to planning stakeholders on a number of occasions during the Coronavirus pandemic in relation to implications for Scotland's planning system as a result of COVID-19 and restrictions that had been in place. These letters outlined some steps and actions to ensure planning can could continue to operate during the pandemic and play a vital role towards economic and societal recovery. A further letter in July 2022 from the Chief Planner and Minister for Public Finance, Planning and Community Wealth set out the arrangements for withdrawal of the relevant legislation and guidance.
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.
We are currently reviewing the National Planning Framework and Scottish Planning Policy, bringing a new national spatial strategy and planning policies together in National Planning Framework 4 (NPF4). Find out more at www.transformingplanning.scot.
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 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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Area 2-F (South)
Planning and Architecture Division
The Scottish Government