Planning and architecture

Development plans

Development planning

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: 

Evidence gathering 

  • early engagement and data collection 

  • evidence report 

  • gate check 

Plan preparation 

  • proposed plan 

  • consultation 

  • examination 


  • adopted plan 

  • delivery programme 

  • 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: 

Background to development planning reform

Information about the reforms to development planning and the development of the new regulations and guidance, including details of working groups, public consultations and analysis of responses, and of associated impact assessments, are available on the Transforming Planning website.

Development plans correspondence

Documentation from Scottish Government relating to individual development plans across Scotland is available on our site.

Planning authorities should send notifications and documents relating to plans and supplementary guidance that are required to be submitted to Scottish Ministers via our Development Plans Gateway:




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