Planning and architecture

Promoting quality

We promote best practice and excellence in planning, architecture and design by assessing authorities' performance through the planning performance framework, and also by funding external organisations and supporting a number of events, awards and competitions. More information about these is provided below.

You can find information about older events and competitions in our website archive.


We publish quarterly and annual statistics on timescales and approval rates for planning applications. These statistics also provide information on local reviews and enforcement activity.

All planning authorities, and seven of the key agencies, prepare an annual Planning Performance Framework (PPF) report which provides a measurement of quality of the planning service and how it can be improved. We assess the reports against a set of 15 key performance markers. The final reports are generally available on planning authorities' own websites and the Heads of Planning Scotland website.

We produce the Planning Performance Annual Report, which summarises the individual authority reports. Read the annual Reports for 2014 to 2016.

Planning and Architecture Division prepare an annual Planning Performance Framework (PPF) report; the Directorate for Planning and Environmental Appeals (DPEA) produces an annual review of the Planning and Environmental Appeals Division 2015-2016.

In addition, we co-chair the High Level Group on Planning Performance alongside the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA).

Scottish Awards for Quality in Planning

We run the Scottish Awards for Quality in Planning (SAQP) Awards which acknowledge achievements in planning – ranging from strategic visions to new settlements.

They aim to recognise the hard work being carried out by, and within, the planning profession. Entries are assessed by a panel of independent judges appointed by Scottish Ministers.

The Award Winners for the 2017 can be found on our blog.

Architecture and Design Scotland

In 2017 to 2018 we provided funding of £1,670,000 to Architecture and Design Scotland (A+DS) to promote the value of good architecture and sustainable places in support of current policy.

A+DS is an executive non-departmental public body (NDPB) which provides exhibitions, events and an education programme for the public as well as advice, resources and support to practitioners in the built environment sector. A range of information and free resources are available on the A+DS website.

Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design 2016

The Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design 2016 was a celebration of Scotland's history and culture of innovation, our historic and contemporary architecture and exciting design talent.

We helped to support and facilitate the year-long programme which was led by VisitScotland with the support of a range of other partners.

Find out more about the Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design.

Festival of Architecture 2016

A large part of the Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design was the National Festival of Architecture, directed by the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland (RIAS) in collaboration with a wide range of partners. We contributed funding and support for the Festival which included hundreds of exhibitions, workshops, film screenings, musical celebrations and other events that took place across Scotland throughout 2016 and into early 2017.

Venice Architecture Biennale 2016

The Venice Architecture Biennale is one of the world's biggest and most prestigious showcases for architecture.

Scotland's contribution to the Biennale is delivered by the Scotland & Venice Partners, a partnership between Scottish Government, Creative Scotland, Architecture & Design Scotland and British Council (Scotland).

Scotland's 2016 Biennale project, Prospect North, was showcased in Venice in May and June 2016. The exhibition then toured a series of venues across Scotland and was opened by the First Minister at the 2016 Arctic Circle Assembly in Reykjavik.

Scottish Scenic Routes pilots

The Scottish Scenic Routes pilot programme, launched in June 2013, has resulted in the design and construction of eight innovatively designed viewpoints at popular visitor destinations.

Locations include Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park, Cairngorms National Park and Laggan Locks.

The proposals for each pilot site were selected through design competitions specifically aimed at supporting emerging design talent.

The initiative has been supported by a number of partners including: Visit Scotland, Transport Scotland, Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park Authority, Cairngorms National Park Authority, Scottish Natural Heritage, Scottish Canals, Forestry Commission Scotland, Sustrans, the Construction Scotland Innovation Centre, Edinburgh Napier University and Timber Design Initiatives.

RIAS Doolan Award for Best Building in Scotland

We contribute £25,000 annually to the RIAS Doolan Award for Best Building in Scotland to highlight and celebrate excellence as well as generating debate around the concept of architectural quality.

The RIAS Award winners 2017.

RIAS Scotland's Client of the Year award

We provide £5,000 of funding annually for the Scotland's Client of the Year Award, which recognises the importance of a well-informed and enlightened client in delivering design excellence.

2016 RIAS Award winners, including Client of the Year.

Scottish Civic Trust My Place awards

We also provide £17,500 annually in support of the Scottish Civic Trust's My Place Awards scheme. The Awards aim to identify projects or buildings that have had a positive impact in a local neighbourhood and have delivered tangible benefits to that community.

Scottish Civic Trust My Place photography competition

The Scottish Civic Trust's My Place Photography Competition is a built environment photographic project for primary and secondary school-aged children.

The winners represent Scotland in the International Heritage Photographic Experience exhibition.

2017 My Place Award and My Place Photography Competition winners

Saltire Society Housing Design awards

We provide £21,500 in support of the Saltire Society's annual Housing Design Awards, which celebrate innovation and excellence in Scottish house building and placemaking in both the public and private sectors. A specific Innovation in Housing Award recognises the importance of innovation in adaptability, technologies, life-cycle costs and energy use.

The Saltire Society's website has more information on the 2017 Housing Design Awards.

Designing Places student competition

Our annual Designing Places competition is an opportunity for Scotland's built environment students (whether studying planning, urban design, architecture, landscape architecture or transport planning) to develop their place-making skills.

The most recent competition took place on 11 March 2017 at the Lighthouse in Glasgow. Highlights from the day can be found on Twitter #DPSC2017

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