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