Reforming the planning system

A high quality planning system is essential to create quality places with the homes, infrastructure and investment that people need.

We are improving Scotland's planning system, to strengthen the contribution planning can make to inclusive growth, to delivering housing and infrastructure and to empowering communities to influence future development of their areas.

We believe that the planning system needs to change to respond to a changing world. That includes the part planning must play in addressing climate change and ensuring we sustain and support communities across Scotland.

Changes being made to Scotland’s planning system are wide-reaching and substantial, including a new legislative structure, radical policy change to tackle the climate emergency and support a wellbeing economy, and digital transformation of the ways we engage and participate in planning.

Transforming planning in practice

The Planning (Scotland) Act 2019 was passed by the Scottish Parliament in June 2019. This will determine the future structure of the modernised planning system.

The detail of how the new Act’s provisions will work in practice will be contained within secondary legislation and guidance, which we are now in the process of developing and implementing.

We published and adopted Scotland’s fourth National Planning Framework (NPF4) in February 2023. It is a crucial element of our planning reforms. NPF4 sets out a new plan for Scotland in 2050. It replaced National Planning Framework 3 and Scottish Planning Policy, for the first time addressing Scotland’s national spatial and thematic planning policies in one place.

Our new Planning Act is giving NPF4 an enhanced status as part of the development plan.

Underpinning our new planning system is its digital transformation, a 5-year programme that will implement Transforming Places Together: A Digital Strategy for Planning. This is involving a complete rethink of how we all engage and interact with planning, making sure everyone has access to the knowledge and the tools that help us make the best choices for our futures.

Being involved

We want people to be involved as we develop and implement all of these crucial improvements to Scotland's planning system. We will engage widely and consult our stakeholders throughout to make sure everyone has the opportunity to influence the future of planning in Scotland.

You can find more information and resources about the planning transformation programme, including how to keep up-to-date and to be involved, at our dedicated Transforming Planning website. 

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