The planning system in Scotland is plan-led. Development planning is required to manage the development and use of land in the long-term public interest.
Development plans set out how places will change into the future, including where development should and shouldn’t happen. Development plans show where new homes and workplaces will be built. They outline how services and facilities such as schools and travel will be provided, and they identify the places and buildings we value and want to protect.
Development plans guide decisions on applications for planning permission. Decisions on planning applications must be made in accordance with the development plan, unless there are material considerations that indicate otherwise.
The development plan for any given area of Scotland consists of:
the National Planning Framework (NPF4 was adopted in February 2023)
the relevant local development plan (LDP). Scotland's 32 local authorities and the two national park authorities are planning authorities, and are required to prepare an LDP
Local development planning guidance outlines the Scottish Ministers’ expectations for the preparation and delivery of LDPs.
The three principal stages of local development planning are:
early engagement and data collection
monitoring and delivery
LDPs should be place-based, people-centred and delivery-focused, as outlined in the Local Development Planning Guidance.
Throughout the plan preparation process there are opportunities for the public to get involved and help shape their places.
Planning authorities are required to prepare development plan schemes annually. They set out the planning authority’s programme for preparing and reviewing their LDP, including opportunities for the public to get involved. They can be found on planning authority websites.
The following legislation prescribes the processes for development planning and related activities:
The Town and Country Planning (Scotland) Act 1997, as amended by the Planning (Scotland) Act 2019
The Town and Country Planning (Development Planning) (Scotland) Regulations 2023
The Planning (Scotland) Act 2019 (Commencement No.12 and Saving and Transitional Provisions) Regulations 2023
The Town and Country Planning (Grounds for Declining to Follow Recommendations) (Scotland) Regulations 2009