National Planning Framework 4 - draft: consultation analysis

Independent analysis of the responses to our consultation on the draft fourth National Planning Framework (draft NPF4), which ran from 10 November 2021 to 31 March 2022.

Part 3 – National Planning Policy, Liveable Places

Eight policies are included under the Liveable places theme.

Policy 7: Local living

We want our places to support local living.

Question 29 – Do you agree that this policy sufficiently addresses the need to support local living?

Around 380 respondents made a comment at Question 29.

Some of those commenting noted their general support for the 'local living' policy approach and the principle of 20-minute neighbourhoods. This included comments highlighting the contribution that this approach can make to delivering sustainable development, achieving the required modal shift away from private car use, and supporting local access to natural places. Several potential examples of 20-minute neighbourhoods were cited by respondents, including ongoing and proposed development.

Most of those providing comment on Policy 7 saw a need for further detail on how the principle of 20-minute neighbourhoods can be applied across the diverse urban and rural areas of Scotland. Many commented that the policy seems to apply primarily to urban and accessible areas, and there was some scepticism as to whether the principle of 20-minute neighbourhoods can be applied meaningfully to rural areas.

Respondents sought further clarity on how the principles of 20-minute neighbourhoods are to be applied across different types of area. Some raised concerns that the policy could lead to the 'over-centralisation' of rural areas, potentially contributing to further depopulation of vulnerable remote rural communities. In this context, there were calls for recognition of the scale of challenge in adapting the principle of 20-minute neighbourhoods to some areas, and explicit reference to the additional support and investment likely to be required to deliver 20-minute neighbourhoods in more rural areas. Respondents called for greater flexibility to enable 'local living' to be realised in rural areas, and there were also calls for guidance on how local living and 20-minute neighbourhoods are to be balanced with other planning policies and considerations in these areas.

Others questioned whether the principle of 20-minute neighbourhoods should underpin Policy 7, particularly for rural and less accessible areas. The 20-minute threshold was seen by some as too restrictive, with alternatives such as 'sustainable neighbourhoods' suggested as being more representative of the principle of 'local living' for less accessible areas.

Some respondents expressed stronger opposition to the principle of 20-minute neighbourhoods, describing the policy as being overly restrictive on new development, even in urban and more accessible areas. This reflected a view that residents may not be able to access the full range of social, health and economic requirements within 20-minutes in some urban areas, and that the policy could, for example, limit potential urban regeneration and the development required to support town centre recovery. In this context, some referred to the potential for the creation of 20-minute neighbourhoods through mixed use developments within and on the edges of communities, and suggested that facilities provided through residential-led development proposals could help to deliver 20-minute neighbourhoods in areas with limited existing amenities. These respondents wished to see policy amendments to enable this.

Many of those commenting were looking for further detail on what 20-minute neighbourhoods will mean in practice. These respondents noted that clarity is required on the concept of a 20-minute neighbourhood, when it is appropriate to apply it, and how it will influence development management decisions. Specific questions raised by respondents included how the 20-minute threshold will be measured, and how the term 'reasonably be expected' will be used in planning authority decisions. There was thought to be a need for further guidance to support the policy and address these questions, including calls for NPF4 to highlight the role of communities in helping to determine what 20-minute neighbourhoods mean for their local area. Reference was also made to other relevant planning policy. For example, links were drawn with the Place Standard tool and place and wellbeing outcomes, and it was suggested that the reference to a radius of approximately 800 metres is not consistent with the National Performance Indicator for access to green and blue space.

Concerns were also raised around delivery of the policy. For example, respondents suggested that some of the requirements set out are outwith the control of individual planning authorities, with health and education services cited as examples. Respondents highlighted the importance of coordination between planning policy and decisions on the provision of local services, and wished to see NPF4 provide mechanisms to ensure delivery of sufficient services and infrastructure to enable the delivery of 20-minute neighbourhoods. Reference was made to the potential role of the Place Principle in coordinating delivery of the policy and there were calls for further guidance to support a consistent approach across stakeholders and boundaries.

Other issues and potential amendments raised in relation to the principle of local living and 20-minute neighbourhoods included that there should be:

  • A greater emphasis on the retrofitting of existing neighbourhoods to make them 20-minute compliant, including through guidance on how to address the range of planning considerations likely to be involved in delivering the necessary infrastructure.
  • Recognition of the importance of local third sector organisations, community groups and community-led initiatives for the realisation of 20-minute neighbourhoods.
  • Support for the significant public engagement likely to be required to shape the approach to local living and 20-minute neighbourhoods, including the necessary investment to support this.
  • Greater prioritisation of active, public and other sustainable transport as a key element of 20-minute neighbourhoods.

a) LDPs should support the principle of 20-minute neighbourhoods

Some of those commenting expressed their support for the role of LDPs in supporting the principle of 20-minute neighbourhoods. This included calls for NPF4 to ensure LDPs are able to take account of the local context and characteristics of the area.

However, most of those commenting on 7(a) raised concerns or suggested amendment to the draft NPF. This included some who suggested that, as an LDP requirement, it is not appropriate for inclusion as development management policy.

Many of those commenting sought clarity around the weighting that LDPs should give to the principle of 20-minute neighbourhoods to enable planning authorities to balance their requirements with other considerations. These respondents raised specific concerns around potential conflicts between Policy 7 and a brownfield-first approach, or Policy 28 (Historic assets and places) on demolition of listed buildings. It was suggested that the assessment of proposals against 7(a) could be weighted on the basis of the number of the facilities listed at 7(b) that are included in the development.

b) Development proposals that are consistent with the principles of 20-minute neighbourhoods should be supported

Comments included welcoming clarity that the listed development types will be supported, and a suggestion that this part of the policy should ensure that the prioritisation of 20-minute neighbourhoods is applied to all development proposals.

Many of those commenting wished to see 7(b) strengthened, with phrasing such as 'should support' and 'consideration is given to' described as too imprecise for development policy. Suggested amendments included:

  • Ensuring that any developments which do not support the principles of 20-minute neighbourhoods are rejected unless there are strong material considerations against this.
  • Support for developments which incorporate additional sustainable transport infrastructure to support 20-minute neighbourhoods.
  • That use of compensatory development to 'off-set' proposals which do not enable 20-minute neighbourhoods should not be allowed.
  • That development should not be permitted to demolish or otherwise degrade existing facilities that contribute to 20-minute neighbourhoods.

It was also suggested that undeveloped 'legacy' developments from previous LDPs should be removed from current plans if they do not meet the 20-minute neighbourhood criteria.

There were calls for further clarity on how 7(b) will be delivered in practice, including concerns that NPF4 should ensure a consistent approach is taken across Scotland, especially since development proposals which are consistent with 7(b) may still conflict with other relevant planning policies. Some suggested that 7(b) lacks the detail required to support the assessment of development proposals, and saw the considerations set out as more suited to guidance rather than policy. Clarification was also sought on how planning authorities should determine what constitutes a 'relevant development proposal'.

Respondents also noted that 7(b) sets out a relatively large number of facilities required to constitute local living and suggested that clarity is required around how many of these should 'reasonably' be expected to be included. It was suggested that some of the facilities listed at 7(b) may not be feasible at a local level.

Other points raised in relation to several of the specific development types listed included:

  • There was support for the role of public transport and active travel in 20-minute neighbourhoods and the contribution this can make to reducing unsustainable travel. Some wished to see a greater emphasis on the role of public transport and active travel. They referred to the importance of active and public transport links between 20-minute neighbourhoods and other areas. It was also suggested that NPF4 should include support for the decarbonisation of public transport and the need for electric powered public transport infrastructure as part of 20-minute neighbourhoods.
  • In relation to employment, it was suggested that employers should be supported to facilitate appropriate remote working.
  • Reference to the role of shopping for local living included calls for further detail on the types of shopping expected to be provided within 20-minute neighbourhoods; some made a distinction between food shopping (especially access to affordable healthy food) and other shopping requirements.
  • Health and social care was described by some as a fundamental requirement for 20-minute neighbourhoods, including a suggestion that health and social care services should be recognised as essential infrastructure alongside energy, water, roads and education.
  • It was suggested that reference to play opportunities should be linked to the role of greenspaces in 20-minute neighbourhoods.
  • In relation to safe streets and spaces, there was specific support for the importance of enabling safe sustainable travel, with this seen as especially important to encourage more cycling.

Respondents also suggested amendments that cut across development types, including that:

  • NPF4 should include clearer acknowledgement that ensuring a development forms part of a 20-minute neighbourhood may require changes beyond the boundaries of the development, for example to ensure integrated transport networks.
  • Other policy and guidance may be relevant to the application of this part of the policy, such as Open Space Strategies and Play Sufficiency Assessments.
  • 20-minute neighbourhoods will require development to be inclusive of all parts of the community, including concerns around the potential segregation of affordable housing and meeting the needs of people with limited mobility.

Suggested additions

Respondents wished to see several policy areas given greater prominence including:

  • An additional criterion should be introduced addressing how the concept of 20-minute neighbourhoods is to be understood in rural areas.
  • Support for the principle of enabling people to 'age in place' and highlighting the importance of health and social care services as part of local living. This included calls for reference to housing with care.
  • Opportunities to support low carbon transport and heat as part of local living, including supporting the emergence of local energy cooperatives and electric vehicle infrastructure.
  • Greater reference to the importance of green space and networks for delivery of 20-minute neighbourhoods, including further coverage of multifunctional blue and green infrastructure, and the role of accessible nature in relation to 20-minute neighbourhoods. This included reference to relevant policy considerations around biodiversity and woodland.
  • The importance of improved digital connectivity to support delivery of local living in rural areas.

Comments also included reference to specific types of development which respondents wished to see better represented. These included:

  • Arts, culture and heritage as part of the 20-minute neighbourhood.
  • Development proposals that support local food growing and allotments.
  • Development that supports the creation of local circular economies.
  • Green networks.
  • Provision of blue and green infrastructure for climate resilience.
  • Live/work units and hubs.
  • Shared transport.

Policy 8: Infrastructure first

We want an infrastructure first approach to be embedded in Scotland's planning system.

Question 30 – Do you agree that this policy ensures that we make best use of existing infrastructure and take an infrastructure first approach to planning?

Around 345 respondents made a comment at Question 30.

Some of these respondents expressed their support for the infrastructure first approach set out by Policy 8. This included particular reference to supporting delivery of the infrastructure required by 20-minute neighbourhoods, providing an opportunity to improve active travel infrastructure, and reference to the importance of energy and other infrastructure for delivery of carbon reduction targets.

Most of those commenting sought further detail on Policy 8 and its parts, including a view that as currently drafted the policy lacks the necessary detail to deliver an infrastructure first approach. There were calls for a clear definition of 'infrastructure', including reference to the definition used in the IIP. In terms of specific types of infrastructure, respondents referred to transport (including active travel), communications, drainage, sewerage and flood defence, water and energy supply (including renewable energy and electricity grid infrastructure), space heating, green and blue infrastructure, natural infrastructure, public services (especially education and health), electric vehicle infrastructure, recreation facilities, and existing buildings. Some also saw a need for the prioritisation of specific types of infrastructure, including specific reference to infrastructure that contributes to carbon reduction targets.

Respondents also sought further detail on how the policy will be delivered, reflecting concerns around whether aspects will be achievable, and a view that further detail is required to enable effective delivery. It was suggested that effective delivery will require significant investment, both in terms of strategic infrastructure investment, including to increase electricity grid capacity, and to ensure sufficient resourcing of the planning system. Some wished to see further detail on how planning authorities are expected to cost infrastructure requirements and how large infrastructure projects will be funded, reflecting concern that development could be lost if there are delays in Scottish Government funding for larger projects which are not identified in LDPs. Respondents also saw a need for greater clarity on the continuing role of developer contributions, alongside other mechanisms for funding and delivering infrastructure.

Concerns were raised regarding the skills and capacity that planning authorities will require to support the infrastructure first approach, including to support engagement with developers in the production of development proposals. There were suggestions that planning authorities currently struggle to resource the enforcement of section 75 agreements for the delivery of infrastructure, and concern that Policy 8 will add to resource demands on those planning authorities. In addition to resourcing, there was thought to be a need for additional mechanisms to enable planning authorities to leverage delivery of infrastructure.

To ensure an integrated approach to delivery, some wished to see stronger links between the policy and the spatial strategy. Reflecting the cross-boundary nature of some infrastructure, respondents also wished to see reference to the role of joint working across planning authority areas, between planning authorities and developers, for example to overcome challenges in designing development proposals that reuse existing infrastructure, and with those responsible for infrastructure to coordinate its delivery. It was suggested that a national body may be required to direct and coordinate infrastructure delivery.

Other issues raised included:

  • NPF4 should better address forthcoming policy changes that are likely to affect delivery of this policy, including the infrastructure levy and changes in relation to land value capture.
  • Current regulations do not always support an infrastructure first approach, for example in relation to energy infrastructure.
  • Policy 8 should support the role of communities in choosing appropriate infrastructure for their area.

a) LDPs and delivery programmes should be based on an infrastructure first approach

Respondents supported the policy's focus on embedding infrastructure considerations in land use planning, including support for the role of LDPs in setting out infrastructure requirements at a local level, and the reference to the importance of aligning LDPs with relevant infrastructure plans and policies.

However, some noted that the success of an infrastructure first approach will depend on the specific content of these plans and policies, along with how they are translated at a local level. Respondents noted that the lack of detail on infrastructure plans and policies limited their ability to comment meaningfully on the draft NPF, and there were calls for further clarity on timescales for production of plans and policies. It was also suggested that the plans and policies listed at 8(a) may have different review cycles, potentially leading to issues of alignment with LDPs.

Respondents also highlighted the importance of clarity on infrastructure requirements for developers. It was reported that this feeds into certainty regarding costs and informs investment decisions. In addition to the infrastructure requirements associated with residential development and settlement planning, respondents also highlighted the importance of translating national infrastructure requirements at a local level. There were calls for the NPF4 to set out clearer links between national development and this policy, including by setting out criteria to ensure a consistent approach to delivery of strategic infrastructure.

The importance of up-to-date infrastructure capacity assessments was highlighted by some, including calls for guidance to ensure a consistent approach. Concerns were also raised around potential for LDPs and associated delivery programmes to become out of date as the evidence base evolves over the 10-year plan period.

Some respondents referred to the importance of 8(a) for housing development, including raising concerns that housing targets will require the effective delivery of Policy 8. There was a call for guidance to ensure effective implementation, including to support early engagement between developers and planning authorities, and coordination with the third parties that are responsible for the necessary infrastructure. Some suggested that the delivery of rural housing development may be particularly negatively impacted by 8(a), given the challenges around delivery of the necessary infrastructure in these areas. These respondents wished to see clearer support through 8(a) for infrastructure provision in rural areas.

Respondents also raised concerns around the potential for infrastructure requirements placed on developers to affect the viability of residential and commercial development, including reference to challenges in ensuring coordination with third parties, such as utilities, to ensure timely delivery of infrastructure. Respondents made specific reference to developers being required to deliver heat networks, with some suggesting that the infrastructure requirements associated with heat networks can add uncertainty and delays to development proposals. Comments on the role of 8(a) for developer obligations included reference to the potential for it to remove current flexibility in how planning authorities calculate developer obligations, for example if planning advice is revised over the life of the plan. It was suggested that this would limit scope for planning authorities to respond to change over a 10-year LDP period.

b) Development proposals that create an infrastructure need should demonstrate how they have taken account of the Investment Hierarchy

Comments in support of 8(b) included that a specific focus on making best use of existing infrastructure is welcome, although some thought that there could be greater emphasis on the reuse of existing infrastructure. This included a suggestion that the eventual decommissioning and recycling of materials from infrastructure projects should be considered at the planning stage.

Others raised concerns regarding the extent to which 8(b) will result in new development being focused around existing provision. For example, it was suggested that, in rural areas, a focus on poor quality or insufficient existing infrastructure could conflict with the development needs of local communities, and could potentially undermine rural repopulation and economic development objectives. It was also suggested that a focus on existing infrastructure may require more detailed evidence on the capacity of that infrastructure. Some also wished to see 8(b) ensure that the focus on existing infrastructure does not disregard the location of demand for development.

There was a call for clearer guidance on how development proposals should be assessed against 8(b), including calls for detailed assessment criteria. Respondents cited several examples of where they were unclear about how proposals would be assessed against the Investment Hierarchy, including the adaptation of existing buildings and in relation to additional units on an existing non-residential site. It was also suggested that the Investment Hierarchy may not be sufficiently detailed to support assessment of local infrastructure requirements. Some suggested that LDPs could support 8(b) by setting out a framework for local infrastructure requirements that takes the Investment Hierarchy into account.

Other issues and suggested amendments highlighted included:

  • NPF4 should highlight the role of planning authority investment plans in setting out how and when strategic infrastructure funding will be made available.
  • Concerns regarding the skills and capacity required of planning authorities to assess development proposals against the Investment Hierarchy.
  • That some planning authority level guidance does not permit planning obligations to be sought for the reconfiguration of existing buildings and infrastructure. There was a call for 8(b) to address this directly.

c) Development proposals that provide infrastructure identified as necessary by the LDP should be supported

Respondents raised concerns regarding the extent to which this part of the policy may be misinterpreted or misapplied. For example, some highlighted the potential for it to lead to development proposals being supported on the basis of a relatively small infrastructure contribution, even if they are contrary to other planning policies. It was suggested that additional guidance or criteria are required to assess the sufficiency of infrastructure contributions for 8(c), and/or that a requirement should be placed on LDPs to set out the types of development expected to contribute to identified infrastructure needs. Respondents also emphasised the importance of a range of critical factors being considered when assessing the suitability of development proposals, including calls for cross-referencing between 8(c) and other relevant parts of NPF4.

It was also noted that 8(c) places significant emphasis on the accuracy of LDPs in terms of identified housing targets and infrastructure requirements. Associated concerns included that LDPs could over-estimate infrastructure requirements on the basis of 'unrealistically' high housing targets, which could result in support for infrastructure proposals that prove unnecessary. Concerns were also raised around the potential for 8(c) to result in newly arising infrastructure needs not being supported, particularly where LDPs may not anticipate all future infrastructure needs. There was specific reference to the potential for renewable energy infrastructure requirements to change over the course of a 10-year plan, including through additional adopted policies and plans. It was suggested that national climate policy targets should take primacy over LDPs in relation to infrastructure requirements.

d) Development proposals should not be supported unless they mitigate their impacts on infrastructure

There was support for development proposals being required to mitigate their impact on infrastructure. This reflected concern that development to date has already resulted in demand outstripping infrastructure capacity across parts of Scotland.

Some respondents identified particular concerns around the capacity of schools, strategic transport links and other major infrastructure which are beyond the scope of developer contributions. Concerns about the use of developer contributions to fund infrastructure also reflected a view that some major infrastructure is required in advance of residential and other development, including cases where infrastructure can act as a catalyst for subsequent development. Respondents wished to see further detail on how these types of infrastructure will be funded, for example through the NPF4 delivery plan. It was also suggested that legal requirements on developer obligations need to be reformed to remove barriers to their use to deliver large-scale infrastructure.

Respondents also raised concerns about potential challenges in the delivery of mitigation for some development proposals. There were calls for further detail on how infrastructure provision will be funded where it is not possible or feasible for mitigation to ensure sufficient infrastructure capacity, for example where this requires input from national bodies such as Transport Scotland or Network Rail. Reference was made to the possibility that development proposals that are supported by other aspects of NPF4 and/or that LDPs may not be supported if the required infrastructure mitigation is not achievable. Some called for flexibility for planning authorities to avoid excessive infrastructure requirements that would undermine the viability of development proposals.

Some respondents were looking for further detail on how development proposals are to be assessed in terms of proposed mitigation approaches. They highlighted the need for clarity for planning authorities and developers in terms of the level of mitigation and developer contributions that are considered reasonable for different types of development. There were also calls for 8(d) to better recognise differences in the scale and nature of infrastructure challenges across urban and rural areas. It was suggested that the approach to mitigation of infrastructure impacts in rural areas should be tailored to local circumstances, and should support rural repopulation.

Some respondents questioned the relationship between 8(c) and (d). This included a suggestion that they could be merged or re-drafted to clarify the distinction between them.

Policy 9: Quality homes

We want to support the delivery of high quality, sustainable homes that meet the needs of people throughout their lives.

Question 31 – Do you agree that this policy meets the aims of supporting the delivery of high quality, sustainable homes that meet the needs of people throughout their lives?

Around 370 respondents made a comment at Question 31.

Comments were often lengthy, and the analysis below seeks to present an overview of the general themes raised, before moving on to consider each of the ten specific criteria in greater detail. Please note that all consultation responses are available to the Scottish Government.

A general observation was that the policy itself covers a very broad area, and that there may be a case for it being divided into more than one NPF4 policy. A specific suggestion was that it could be divided into a policy that is focused on quantity (equating broadly to 9 (a), (b) and (c)), with a second policy focused more specifically on quality.

Overall impact

In terms of the current overall approach, aspects that respondents liked included that there is more of a focus on deliverability than was said to be the case under existing policy. It was also suggested that the overall approach has the potential to reduce the variety of approaches taken across local authorities, if generally applied.

There was support for developing and adopting a robust methodology for assessing housing need and providing the land necessary, which was described as a core requirement of a functioning planning system. It was suggested that such an approach has been absent in the planning system in Scotland for too long, leading to a situation where the plan-led system was undermined, and planning decisions were delivered inconsistently on appeal.

A different perspective was that as drafted the policy contains a range of definitive statements, which if taken on their own, could be used to justify inappropriate development. It was suggested that as currently set out the policy opens up new routes through which the housing land position becomes harder to manage and also opens up the possibility of legal dispute. Connected to this was a view that Policy 9 needs significant alteration to be workable.

Housing to 2040 and other strategies, plans and regulations

A number of respondents noted the lack of reference to Housing to 2040, and there was a concern that it is not clear how NPF4 links to the ambitions of Housing to 2040. In terms of links and connections that need to be made and set out, there was also reference to:

  • The recommendations from the Scottish Land Commission on housing delivery. It was suggested that there is an opportunity to embed these recommendations into NPF4 and to be more ambitious and innovative regarding housing delivery.
  • Building Standards and the new energy requirements.
  • The Heat in Buildings Strategy.
  • A Fairer Scotland for Older People (2019), and the consultation on the Health and Social Care Strategy for Older People (2022).

It was suggested that links to wider government policy, including Housing to 2040, could be made more explicit if the policy's focus was on affordable and accessible homes. It was suggested that plans for housing development could be linked more explicitly to:

  • The assessed needs of the population, including people with disabilities and older people.
  • Local Heath and Care Commissioning Strategies.
  • Local Housing Strategies (LHSs).

Affordable housing and tenure-balance

Others raised issues about the tenure-based focus of the current draft, along with a concern that the new policy will repeat what were described as the failures of NPF3 to deliver affordable quality housing.

It was reported that additional housing is needed at every level of the market, and that this will be driven by private developers and the volume housebuilders but also by housing associations, local authorities and the third sector. It was proposed that the policy should reference encouraging, promoting, and ensuring delivery of homes across different tenures and by a range of providers.

One view was that a measure of success for this policy, and NPF4 as a whole, must in part be its ability to meet the housing need of those households who are struggling to access a social rented sector home. A different perspective was that, although affordable housing covers many types of homes, at its heart it is about social housing and only by increasing the supply of social housing in the right places can the housing emergency be addressed. There was a call for more of a focus on social housing, including through a firm commitment to increasing the social housing stock.

Connected to this position was the view that the success of Policy 9, and others in NPF4, must be measured against its ability to deliver enough social rented sector homes to meet existing and future demand, as well as ensuring those homes are of high quality, affordable, secure and sustainable. An associated point was that NPF4 should indicate how the Housing Need and Demand Assessment (HNDA) requirements are to be considered, particularly when they point to a significant proportion of the identified need and demand being for affordable housing.

In terms of ensuring that the right type of homes are delivered in the right places, it was suggested that LDPs should allocate land for specific tenures including social, affordable, self-build and community or public-led housing only.

Sustainability and net zero

A number of comments considered what is meant by 'sustainable homes' and it was suggested that the 'sustainable' aspect of this policy needs more thought if it is to deliver climate and nature-friendly housing. There was a concern that the draft NPF has not recognised sufficiently that construction contributes to carbon emissions and also has a significant impact on biodiversity.

Rather than what was described as a slightly modified 'business as usual' approach, there was a call for a more transformative approach to find the most effective way of delivering the homes needed while also prioritising the climate and nature emergency.

It was noted that new housebuilding, the infrastructure required, and the subsequent use of new homes will all generate emissions, however well they are designed, but that if badly planned they will generate even more. Given this, it was seen as concerning that housing seems to have been excluded from several of the conditions relating to climate and biodiversity covered at Policy 2 and (Climate emergency) and Policy 3 (Nature crisis). Further comments included that:

  • It is not clear how overall climate emissions from housing delivery will be assessed, other than on a partial per development basis under Policy 2 (c) relating to development proposals that will generate significant emissions. It was suggested those aspects of Policy 2 (c) which are applicable to proposed housing developments should not include exemptions on grounds of viability.
  • Policy 9 needs to include direct reference to the need for new build homes to be energy efficient, in line with the New Build Heat Standard. Reference should also be made to Policy 11 (Heating and cooling).
  • It appears that it will be left to local authorities to determine at the LDP stage when the emissions from existing provision – including through the retrofit and refurbishment, using empty homes and the reuse of brownfield sites – should be considered.
  • There should be a policy requirement in NPF4 requiring LDPs to carry out an assessment of how housing needs can be achieved using the least damaging sites and lowest means of climate emissions, using a combination of retrofit, renovation, conversion and new build.

Other comments about existing buildings and infrastructure and the use of brownfield included that:

  • Policy 9 should recognise and encourage a significant contribution to housing targets to be made by existing empty homes, or buildings not currently used for residential purposes, being returned or converted to use as homes. This approach would be far more in keeping with other policies on circular economy and 20-minute neighbourhoods and would have the benefits of reducing carbon emissions through embodied energy and reducing construction waste. It would also protect other land uses such as agricultural land.
  • A new policy of building reuse first should be developed. It was noted that building reuse is referenced in Policy 27 (Town centre living) and Policy 28 (Historic assets and places). However, it was suggested that a clearer steer is required around addressing the embodied energy and carbon in existing buildings, including not just when their previous use is no longer viable.
  • Prioritising brownfield development should be front and centre of Policy 9.

Other sustainability-related points made included:

  • The policy needs to acknowledge the high levels of fuel poverty, and the below tolerable standards associated with some of Scotland's housing stock.
  • Any measure for sustainable homes must include water efficiency, consumption, and sustainable drainage. Sustainable metrics for homes need to include measures to address future pressures from climate change on water, drainage and flood risk. The policy also needs to cover water consumption, grey-water recycling, and the management of surface water through plot, street, and development level implementation of SuDS.
  • As flooding is forecast to increase, safety from its many impacts must be a key consideration. The connection was made to homeowners being able to access affordable mortgages and insurance, and it was suggested that a precautionary approach should be taken around development in an area of possible flood risk.

Clarity of terms and definitions

Finally in terms of general themes, it was suggested that Policy 9 contains several ambiguous or unclear terms. Examples given included what is meant by good quality homes, minimum standards, targets and requirements?

There was a concern that imprecise wording, as it relates to the delivery of housing, may contribute to issues in LDP preparation and implementation. The lack of clarity around some of the terms used, such as 'long' or 'longer term', 'an identified need' in relation to affordable housing, and 'progress to delivery', was seen as potentially problematic.

a) Identify a housing target for the area it covers, in the form of a Housing Land Requirement

Please note that issues associated with the specific Minimum All-Tenure Housing Land Requirement for each planning authority are covered at Question 57, Annex B - Housing numbers.

General comments at this question highlighted some fundamental concerns about the intended approach. Reflecting some of the issues raised above in relation to tenure-balance, it was suggested that trying to deliver affordable housing by allocating generous amounts of land for all-tenure housing is flawed. It was noted that the MATHLR figures are described as a Minimum Housing Target, with the rationale being that there may be a need to identify more housing land than is expected to be required. This was described as an inefficient, speculative model that will not deliver the affordable homes we need. Further concerns included that:

  • The current MATHLR figures in Annex B appear to have been developed without consideration of the most sustainable, low emission means of delivering better and appropriate housing for all who need it.
  • The requirement for such a large margin for 'generosity' makes it harder to efficiently target infrastructure investment, and seems to be based on an assumption of permanent development and growth that is incompatible with the climate and nature emergencies.

It was suggested that there is an urgent need to reconsider our current models of housing development and to explore more land and resource efficient models that can that result in more accurately and effectively planning.

Other concerns focused on the specifics of the MATHLR and included that it is set far too low. It was suggested that the HNDA tool that was used fails to capture the housing needs and demand of significant portions of society. As an alternative, it was proposed that household surveys should be used in order that the current trend-based model of housing projections is supplemented with real world evidence.

There was also a fundamental concern that the MATHLR methodology is not appropriate for low volume build, low populous areas like the Outer Hebrides. In particular, there was a concern that it does not allow for ambitions relating to sustainable economic and population growth to be taken into account. It was suggested that MATHLR needs to make allowance for local authority policy aspirations and population initiatives.

There were also reservations about how the approach will work in areas of pressured market demand but where there are environmental and other constraints. It was suggested that 9(a) should not constrain the ability of planning authorities to set a Housing Land Requirement appropriate to local circumstances, and that the reference to 'minimum' should be removed.

Others were more broadly supportive of the approach, although there remained some doubt about whether this policy will reduce the debate on the Housing Land Requirement, including around how much flexibility LDPs may need to have 'built-in' to cover a 10-year LDP cycle and how the housing land supply is measured.

Some of those offering support were nonetheless looking to have certain points clarified or changed. These included:

  • It would help to clarify whether the housing targets are the number of houses expected to be built, or the land that is potentially suitable should demand materialise.
  • The term 'target' should not be used. If LDPs are to allocate land to the level of the Housing Land Requirement, that should simply be stated.
  • There should be a reference to HNDAs, or alignment with LHSs, as the main basis for considering additions to the Housing Land Requirement. The LHS will provide the housing target, the LDP will identify sites to deliver it. It was suggested that LDPs could refer to and signpost the 'latest LHS housing target'.

It was also suggested that the MATHLR process does not recognise the role of regional and local housing markets sufficiently, including how markets operate across boundaries. There was also a concern that the policy as set out may restrict local authorities to only planning to meet the Housing Land Requirement within their boundaries, rather than across any Housing Market Areas of which they are a part. Equally, however, it was seen as important to ensure that local authorities do not defer meeting a requirement to the regional level. There was a view that Regional Spatial Strategies should play a role.

'At least' meeting MATHLR

There were a number of comments specifically about the reference to identifying land to 'at least' meet the 10-year MATHLR.

One perspective was that this places a focus on identifying a requirement beyond the figures set out in NPF4, by seeming to assume that the outcomes of the HNDA process will highlight a greater level of need. There was a concern that debates and appeals could focus on how many additional homes should be provided for on top of MATHLR, and it was suggested that it should not be possible to challenge an LDP on that basis.

A different perspective was that the reference to 'at least' will encourage local authorities to identify the MATHLR as the actual Housing Land Requirement. The associated view was that it would be preferable for them to both go beyond the requirement and to plan for beyond 10 years. It was suggested that there should be a 15 to 20-year requirement, and that a reserve of deliverable sites should be maintained. It was proposed that these sites could then come forward earlier if the housing land pipeline under-delivers. A connected point was that there is no mechanism to trigger a review of the Housing Land Requirement if under-delivery is a persistent issue.

b) A deliverable housing land pipeline should be established for the Housing Land Requirement

Comments included that rather than 'pipeline', the policy should refer to 'supply', as this is a technical term that relates to established planning procedures and policies.

Many of the comments about the housing land pipeline were looking for further information or clarification about how various aspects of 9(b) are expected to work in practice. General concerns included that what is proposed is somewhat vague, with specific queries including:

  • What is a deliverable housing land pipeline? Further definition and clarification would be welcomed.
  • Whether establishing the housing pipeline would be a one-off exercise, or is expected to be an annual process similar to that used for the Housing Land Audit?

In terms of general concerns about how the approach might work, the following were raised:

  • 9(b) does not acknowledge the role of developers in delivering homes. It was noted that local authorities do not control the rate of housebuilding other than for their own developments. It was suggested that the wording needs to be changed so as not to impose a requirement on planning authorities that is not within their remit.
  • It is not clear how the housing land pipeline timescales would work where the market conditions lead to the delivery of homes through a build to order process. There should be recognition that the pace of delivery of sites cannot be determined by planning authorities.

An alternative perspective was that 9(b) will not succeed in achieving the overall objectives of Policy 9, including because it will not address what was said to be a persistent failure of many LDPs to allocate enough deliverable housing land to meet need and demand. It was reported that this has been a source of tension and challenge between home builders, local authorities and the Scottish Government, and it was considered critical that NPF4 contains provisions which both encourage the delivery of housing, and enable the release of more land if not enough is being delivered by an LDP. There was a concern that the draft NPF is not sufficiently clear or strong to ensure this is addressed.

A specific concern was the policy does not recognise windfall sites as a formal mechanism for the delivery of housing. It was reported that windfall sites can have a particularly important role to play, especially in some rural areas. The role of self-build sites was also noted. It was suggested that the role of windfall and self-build sites needs to be acknowledged.

Short-, medium- and long-term sites

A number of comments addressed the reference to short-, medium- and long-term sites, sometimes in order to request definitions for what is meant by each. Clear definitions were seen as key to achieving consistent practice across the country. Other points or queries included:

  • Which of the timeframes set out would contribute to the 5-year effective housing land supply, or is that no longer a consideration? There was an associated query as to whether the lack of reference to an effective 5-year land supply is intended.
  • Can allocations be considered appropriate if they do not meet the 20-minute neighbourhood criteria? It was suggested that this would be particularly challenging in a rural context.

There was also a concern that the currently proposed system risks encouraging local authorities to push back the programming of sites to later in the effective period. A suggested alternative approach was to have four groups of sites as follows:

  • Immediate term sites: to be commenced in 1-3 years. Includes sites with full planning permission that should be allocated in the adopted LDP.
  • Short term sites: to be commenced in 4-6 years. Includes sites with planning permission and allocations supported by masterplans, site briefs or equivalent and should be allocated in the adopted LDP.
  • Medium term sites: to be commenced in 7-10 years. In locations that align with the spatial strategy. Should be allocated in the adopted LDP.
  • Long-term sites (safeguarded land): To be commenced after Year 10. These sites align with the Site Assessment Methodology, are either free from constraints, or can be made free from constraints, and are available to come forward earlier if needed.

Locations identified beyond the plan period

There were also queries about the meaning and intention of the reference to 'locations that may be suitable for new homes beyond the plan period'. They included:

  • What status would these sites have and what level of scrutiny during the plan preparation process do they require?
  • Is this an absolute requirement, and if so what amount of land is to be identified? It was thought that the use of 'can' rather than 'must' suggests that it is optional. Clarity was sought as to when, and if, such sites should be identified. The associated suggestion was that it should be at the discretion of the local authority and that there should be no obligation or specific target.
  • There will need to be precision on how it will be determined that a deliverable site is no longer deemed to be delivering as expected, and therefore other longer term sites should be brought forward.
  • Is the mechanism for bringing forward sites to be initiated by the planning authority through an LDP review, or could developers simply apply for permission on longer term or even unallocated sites at any time arguing the ineffectiveness of allocated sites?

There was also a concern that a mechanism to bring forward sites is open to misuse, with sites being drawn down prematurely and potentially undermining the delivery of existing allocated sites. It was reported that many sites do not progress to delivery as programmed because factors outside control of the planning authority can get in the way, especially for larger complex sites. It was suggested that bringing forward other 'longer term deliverable sites' early may further hinder progress. It was seen as important that the approach does not inadvertently disincentivise the delivery of short- and medium-term sites, particularly if the latter sites are the more difficult to develop or are less marketable.

An alternative view was that the current policy is extremely limited with regards to the sites which can be brought forward to resolve under-delivery. It was proposed that if medium- and long-term sites from the pipeline do not address the delivery timeline, then non-identified sites should have to come forward. It was also suggested that 9(b) should be amended to require LDPs to include information on the housing land pipeline relative to the Housing Land Requirement.

Site de-allocation

While some gave their support for the removal of sites where they are no longer deliverable, there were also notes of caution. These included that:

  • The ability to remove sites on an ad hoc basis does not seem to accord with the objective of giving stakeholders certainty over the plan period.
  • There may be cases where sites stall, or become ineffective, but should not be treated the same as undelivered sites. It was reported that sites are dynamic, and deliverability can be affected by a number of factors beyond the control of the planning process, including the strength of the housing market and the developers' own timescales. It was said to be not uncommon for a site to go from being effective to non-effective and back to effective again.
  • Finding alternative sites in some rural settlements may be difficult, as constraints such as marketability could be as applicable to the new site as it was to the site being de-allocated.

In terms of how any approach is expected to work, comments included that:

  • It is unclear what mechanism the Scottish Government is proposing and whether this would be some form of formal de-allocation process, or if it would be a matter to be addressed in a review of an adopted LDP.
  • It is not clear where the burden of proof will lie. Will it be for developers or landowners to effectively 'prove' their sites are deliverable, or will it be for local authorities to conduct more rigorous assessments of all of the sites within their boundaries? If the latter, it was suggested that guidance will be required to ensure that sites are assessed on a consistent basis.
  • A number of practicalities need to be considered, including timescales involved, evidence required and the right to appeal.

It was noted that the draft Local Development Planning Guidance (paragraph 475 regarding Delivery Programmes) states that de-allocation should be considered by way of an amendment or review of the plan. It was thought that as the guidance does not have the status of NPF4 as a material planning consideration, and indeed because the reference is made only in relation to delivery programmes and not the preparation of LDPs themselves, there remain concerns.

Managing the development pipeline

General observations included that further clarity on how the Delivery Programme and Housing Land Audit are to be used to manage the development pipeline would be welcome. Further comments included that monitoring could be undertaken annually alongside the Housing Land Audit process. It was hoped that this approach would ensure that local authorities have a consistent and transparent approach to monitoring housing land pipeline sites.

It was also suggested that the reference should be to the Delivery Programme and Housing Land Audit being used to 'monitor' not 'manage' the development pipeline.

c) Sustainable locations that create quality places to live

Those who commented specifically on 9(c) often noted their agreement, with reasons including that the principle of a tailored approach to housing for rural and island areas is supported. However, there was a question about how the requirement for land to be allocated in sustainable places ties up with the aim of repopulating rural areas. It was suggested that these areas are never going to be 'sustainable' if the spatial strategy favours most development being in the largest population centres.

There was a concern – which was also raised in relation to 9(f) below – relating to the need to ensure the housing needs of older and disabled people are met. The suggestion was that it will be difficult for planners to interpret 9(c) and (f) when scrutinising residential proposals; this may then conflict with one of the outcomes for NPF4 set out by the Planning (Scotland) Act 2019 that it meets 'the housing needs of people living in Scotland including, in particular, the housing needs for older people and disabled people.' These issues are picked up again at the analysis relating to 9(f).

Suggested changes or additions to this part of the policy included that:

  • A clear definition of 'sustainable locations' needs to be included.
  • It should acknowledge that sites also need to be allocated where there is market demand, and they are potentially deliverable.
  • There should be a stronger and more explicit statement prioritising brownfield sites over greenfield.
  • Diverse needs and delivery models should be taken into account across all areas, including when allocating land to ensure provision of accommodation for Gypsy/Travellers and Travelling Showpeople.

It was also noted that there is currently a planning advice note (PAN) that covers site assessment, and there was a question as to whether 9(c) is intended to replace it.

20-minute neighbourhoods and infrastructure

A number of comments addressed 20-minute neighbourhoods and an infrastructure first approach, sometimes referring back to their comments under Policy 7 (Local living) or Policy 8 (Infrastructure first).

Relating back to 9(b) above, there was a query as to whether currently allocated sites should be de-allocated if they cannot meet the 20-minute neighbourhood principles? There was also a question about how the approach to allocating land to ensure provision for Gypsy/Travellers and Travelling Showpeople (discussed further below) fits with the 20-minute neighbourhood approach. Other comments relating to 20-minute neighbourhoods included that it may not be practical for all sites, or if there is a need to retrofit facilities and services into existing established residential or urban areas and where available space is at a premium.

In relation to transport infrastructure, it was noted that where people live is a key determinant of their travel needs and behaviours. It was suggested that direct links should be made between Policy 9 and the other policies that support reducing the need to travel and making the best use of existing transport networks.

Further comments included that 9(c) should refer to the need to identify and explicitly state the requirement for climate adaptation infrastructure and nature recovery action. It was suggested that this should be set out early enough to ensure that developers account for these components in the costs of land acquisition and development.

Gypsy/Travellers and Travelling Showpeople

A general observation was that in providing an apparent 'presumption' in favour of development where appropriate tests are met, the Scottish Government is adopting a strong and commendable approach which recognises the distinct needs of the Gypsy/Traveller community. It was suggested that this also provides a good basis to inform forthcoming LDPs and other corporate and local Community Planning strategies.

However, there was also a call for the policy to be strengthened and for support to be given to local authorities in ensuring the provision of sufficient public and private sites in a place-led manner. It was suggested that it would be helpful if planning authorities are required to make such provision for Gypsy/Travellers by the Scottish Government; this would address the current situation where it was said to be apparent that some planning authorities do not do so, either at all or adequately.

There was reference to the need for specific housing need appraisal work, or for it to be made clear what mechanism is to be used to identify need and deliverable land. The concern was that the HNDA is a blunt instrument inappropriate to this requirement, and it was suggested that assessment is best carried out at a national, or at a minimum a regional level, to take travelling into account. It was also noted that the identification of appropriate quality sites must be undertaken in consultation with the travelling community.

There was a concern that the allocation of land cannot ensure the provision of accommodation; it only provides the potential opportunity, but LDPs cannot deliver these sites without the actions of others. Further points included that:

  • Experience of including allocated sites within LDPs has shown that both the development industry and landowners have been resistant to the inclusion of gypsy/ traveller pitches within identified development sites.
  • Provided there is a housing need, there should be a clear policy direction that provision can be sought in a similar manner to meeting affordable housing needs. It should be provided as serviced land, in perpetuity. The concern was that otherwise there would be a reliance on 9(g), which was described as an unplanned approach unlikely to meet the needs of the community.

In terms of the specific reference in 9(c), it was suggested that it should be qualified by 'a need having been identified'.

d) Homes should be of a high quality and contribute to making great places

In addition to general comments in support of homes being of a high quality and contributing to making great places, it was suggested that there should be greater emphasis on:

  • The importance of design.
  • A green infrastructure first approach and providing access to outdoor space.
  • Building at a sufficient density to sustain existing or future local facilities, services and amenities.

It was also suggested that there must be consideration of how surface water is managed at individual plot level, including local capture and reuse, to ensure water resilient places are delivered.

In terms of what makes for quality homes, comments included that:

  • There needs to be a focus on a variety of house and tenancy types to meet the needs of all community groups and promote community cohesion.
  • Homes must be low-carbon future-proofed and include low carbon heating and on-site generation. It was seen as essential that planning policy relating to homes supports the changes taking place within the low-carbon heating sector.
  • There should be full fibre in all new build properties in Scotland. This consideration should be added to 9(d).
  • Some of the six qualities of place are more difficult than others to apply to the dispersed single unit housing developments that are prevalent in some rural areas. A proportionate approach will be needed.

There was a concern that 9(d) lacks any meaningful detail which could be used to assess whether proposed housing is adaptable to changing and diverse needs and lifestyles. It was suggested that terms such as 'high quality' and 'great places' can be interpreted differently, and that this could lead to conflict and delays. It was suggested that NPF4 would benefit from design guidance that reinforces the commitment to delivering high quality homes set out in Housing to 2040, including by identifying how the planning framework will support these efforts.

However, there was also a view that being adaptable to changing and diverse needs and lifestyles is most likely a function of a home's construction and internal layout and, as such, is outwith the remit of planning and is more appropriate to Building Standards. It was also suggested that, in any case, the matters covered at 9(d) are contained in Policy 6 (Design, quality and place) and do not need to be repeated at Policy 9.

e) Statement of community benefit

General comments included that, while the requirement for a Statement of community benefit may be a positive step, more information and detail is required. Issues about which further clarity was sought included:

  • What is meant by 'improving the residential amenity of the surrounding area'? How are 'local' housing requirements to be defined?
  • What weight can be given to the Statement and how far the planning authority can go in challenging its contents?
  • Whether there is to be any input, consideration or approval from the actual community?

In terms of the approach and Statement, it was suggested that provision should be made for local communities to be involved in the development and assessment of such statements. Other comments included that:

  • An explanation of how a proposed development meets local housing requirements, including affordable homes, will be useful. This early engagement would assist the strategic housing authority to identify new developments in the pipeline in relation to affordable housing policies and identify developments which may need to be earmarked for grant funding.
  • There is potential for this to be mixed up with existing requirements for community benefits linked to public sector procurement. Consideration should be given to a different name for the Statement, such as 'Meeting housing and community needs'.
  • The Statement should draw on links to the 20-minute neighbourhood concept and how proposals benefit, supplement or provide facilities to promote this concept.
  • Producing a Statement should be a responsibility for all new development, rather than being limited to housing.

In relation to the 50 homes threshold, there was a question as to whether it is too high, and it was reported that smaller developments can still have a significant impact on a small settlement or a particularly sensitive location. There was support for flexibility around the threshold of 50 homes in rural areas. An alternative perspective, however, was that the opportunity for local authorities to extend this requirement to smaller proposals in rural areas risks allowing for an overly onerous approach to be adopted by some.

Clarity was also sought in relation to what would be expected to be covered under the Statement. Further comments or suggestions included that:

  • Developers should be asked to identify how they are contributing to community wealth building objectives. The concept should be expanded to address and consider the full 'local socio-economic impact' of the development, and specifically how the development will contribute to the compact local living agenda, for example by providing sources of long-term employment, connectivity and access to services and nature.
  • It should address both positive and negative environmental changes that will impact on the local community.

Others raised some fundamental concerns about 9(e), including that community benefit is not a planning consideration and will not be picked up in the process of allocating sites, or reflected in the site allocation in the LDP or through other LDP policies when considering any planning application. Given this situation, it was suggested that it should only be required for allocated sites if the proposal is not in accordance with the detail of the LDP.

A number of practical issues and challenges were also raised, including how an application would be assessed against a Statement of community benefit, and when an application could be refused on the basis of the Statement of community benefit? Other notes of caution included that:

  • The Statement could be given more weight than other policies by some decision makers.
  • Assessment of the Statement would also be an additional resource ask of local authorities, who already face extra demands and dwindling resources.
  • Identified community benefits may not always be related to the development directly, and development management may not have the tools and policies available to secure developer-promised community benefits.
  • Whether major housing developments can be deemed to be improving surrounding residential amenity is a matter of perspective; it would be likely to be strongly contested by neighbouring residents despite any proposed improvements.

It was also noted that there may not be any need for the enhancement of local infrastructure, facilities or services arising from a proposed development and while this policy implies that it is 'a given' that must be addressed.

f) Homes that improve affordability and choice

General comments included that some of the language could be clearer, for example around what is meant by 'choice'. There was a concern that the current wording is not strong enough to ensure that market-led developments will meet the aspirations of Housing to 2040 to improve choice and affordability for all. An associated point was that simply supporting developments which contribute to this goal will not give local authorities enough leverage to ensure that the type of housing delivered is diverse and meets peoples' needs.

It was suggested that in the interests of certainty and clarity for developers and communities, the LDP should form the basis for taking an equalities-led approach, and that the approach in the LDP should be informed by the Evidence Report and LHS. An associated suggestion was that when these other documents are updated, they should be given consideration in the assessment of proposals for new homes, as further material considerations.

Also in relation to identifying needs, it was suggested that it will be important to be clear about whether needs are to be based on the local authority evidence of the housing mix required, or on developers' understanding of 'the market'. It was suggested that these can often be very different, but also that the current assessment methods for determining need are inadequate.

There were also comments about the list of households that may have a specific housing need, including that the list is not required if it is non-exhaustive as it could be read as setting out the only options available.

It was suggested that including all the groups listed within the Place and Wellbeing Outcomes would provide the level of inclusion needed for NPF4 to achieve the outcome set by the Planning (Scotland) Act 2019 on reducing inequalities. Specific suggestions for groups to be added to the list included:

  • Those who are homeless or at risk of homelessness.
  • People living in overcrowded accommodation.
  • Victims of domestic abuse.

It was also suggested, however, that it will be the Strategic Housing Investment Plan that sets the groups for which provision will be made.

The housing needs of older and disabled people

(Please note that this issue is discussed further at Question 56 (Annex A – NPF4 Outcomes statement).

It was noted that The Town and Country Planning (Scotland) Act 1997 (as amended) places an obligation on Scottish Ministers to include a statement in the NPF about how they consider that development will meet the housing needs of older people and disabled people. The Act also places a duty on Ministers to report to Parliament every two years on how the planning system is operating to meet the housing needs of older and disabled people. It also contains a requirement for LDPs to address the housing needs of the population of the area and the availability of land for housing, including for older people and disabled people.

A number of respondents considered that there is insufficient content within the draft NPF to meet the requirements outlined above. It was suggested that Policy 9 should clearly set out needs in terms of housing, both in terms of quality and quantity, along with how these needs should be met at a local level. It was also suggested that:

  • NPF4 should be clear about the need for a sound evidence base to inform the housing numbers and site allocation set out in LDPs.
  • Detailed research and analysis should be undertaken to demonstrate what needs exist, and how planning authorities might address them.

With specific reference to housing for older people, issues that respondents wanted to see addressed included:

  • Improving ease of access to services, either by locating such services close to residential areas with a high population of older people, or by ensuring frequent, safe and accessible transport links between residential and service areas.
  • Ensuring there is sufficient adaptable housing for single people and older households to meet needs arising from disability, a long-term health condition or increased frailty. In particular, addressing the requirements of older people for adaptable housing in rural areas and in new housing developments was highlighted.

With regard to wheelchair accessible housing. it was suggested that the Public Sector Equality Duty should be referred to, along with the Fairer Scotland Duty. Further comments included that:

  • It would have been helpful if the Scottish Government confirmed that research would be undertaken on setting percentage requirements for wheelchair homes.
  • The Scottish Government should require all local authorities to ensure that a minimum of 10% of new-build homes across all tenure types are built to a wheelchair-accessible standard. This should be monitored and reviewed throughout NPF4, planning policy or through changes to Building Standards.
  • Local authorities should meet their duty to publish their EQIAs alongside their LHS and Strategic Housing Investment Plan. Evaluation could then be carried out on the impact of projects on people with, or who share, protected characteristics.

A disparity in guidance where the LHS is required to state a cross-tenure target for delivery of wheelchair accessible housing, and the LDP is not, was also highlighted. It was also suggested that requirements around wheelchair accessible homes should be addressed through Building Standards rather than be considered 'a choice'.

Other comments also focused on disabled peoples' right to accessible housing. They included that NPF4 should be bolder in terms of highlighting housing-related human rights, and should:

  • Require evidence reports and LHSs to use evidence and projections of demand for accessible homes from disabled people who wish to buy or rent privately, as well as those waiting for housing in the social rented sector.
  • Encourage accessible housing solutions to come from the private sector. It was suggested that NPF4 should include methods of encouraging and requiring housing developers to build a proportion of affordable homes with space standards that would make them easily adaptable to wheelchair standards; this also means considering how to market and sell these houses effectively.
  • Introduce requirements for checks to ensure that new build homes are accessible to disabled people. Remedial works should be required if they are not.

There was also a note of caution against over-reliance on housing waiting list data to evidence disabled peoples' housing needs. It was noted that accessibility is not simply about wheelchair accessibility or physical access and that autistic people and those with dementia, mental health problems or learning disabilities also experience access barriers.

Young people and children

It was suggested that NPF4 should also consider what high quality homes look like for young people. It was noted that there is no mention of child-friendly neighbourhoods, and it was suggested that reference needs to be made to child-friendly planning within Policy 9. Other comments included that:

  • Involving children and young people in decision-making, and using the existing evidence we have around children's play and hanging out in urban environments, can substantially improve how we plan new housing so that it meets their needs.
  • The relationship with Policy 7 (Local living), and 20-minute neighbourhoods specifically, should be considered. For young people the safety of the local area and access to the resources they need such as parks, transport and shops are key to their homes feeling appropriate and safe.

Community-led housing

A number of comments focused on community-led housing, and included that community-led housing development already takes account of locally specific market circumstances. It was also suggested that housing providers are not currently addressing the need for housing in smaller settlements and that plan-led approaches are failing to take account of housing demand within local contexts.

There was a call for NPF4 to support and promote the community-led approach, with policies that welcome and support community-led housing proposals and demonstrate commitment to enabling communities to deliver housing needs. Suggestions for how this could be achieved included that:

  • Community-led housing policies should be developed and local needs housing sites should be allocated in LDPs.
  • There should be a presumption in LDPs in favour of community-led housing in areas of pressure.
  • LDPs should state how public development corporations and community development corporations will be supported to assemble land.

Other issues to be considered

Respondents also identified other issues that they wished to see considered in relation to improving affordability and choice. These included:

  • Reducing the long-term operating costs and energy required to occupy any new homes built.
  • Requirements for a minimum proportion of new homes to come with dedicated home office space.
  • Means of controlling the number of second homes and properties that are not principal residencies.
  • A clear policy position on the use of residential caravans as a form of permanent accommodation.

g) Gypsy/Traveller and Travelling Showpeople sites

There were relatively few comments about 9(g) other than a very substantive submission submitted by a number of individual respondents. Some of the issues they raised have already been covered under 9(c) above. Other points included that the specific inclusion of a policy commitment to provide for quality homes within the Gypsy/Travellers community is welcome but that:

  • This requires some refinement and strengthening to reflect the societal and family needs of those being provided for, specifically children and young people. It also necessitates an onus being placed specifically on planning authorities, by Scottish Government, to require the provision of accommodation, not simply to encourage its provision.
  • It will be important that placemaking grounds are used to ensure that Gypsy/Traveller sites are integrated and provided for, both with regard to design but also infrastructure and access to services. This will ensure improved health and quality of life outcomes.

There was said to be an opportunity to consider placemaking as part of the preparation of design guides for communities and sites. There was a call for NPF4 to reflect these design guides, along with the references to the funding and delivery of Gypsy/Traveller provision set out in Housing to 2040. It was suggested that NPF4 should also provide an improved articulation and practical direction for planning authorities on the required quantum, type and nature of Gypsy/Traveller sites.

Comments made by other respondents included that:

  • Clarity is required in relation to how need is to be determined, and what is meant by protected land or features.
  • 9(g) refers to 'judgements' about Gypsy/Traveller and Travelling Showpeople sites; this feels jarring and should be replaced with 'assessments' or similar.

Other comments included that the assessment criteria set out are not expansive enough to assess the suitability and necessity of additional sites not already identified in the LDP. It was reported that Draft Gypsy/Traveller design guidance is being prepared and should be referenced, as should the 20-minute neighbourhood criteria listed in 9(i).

Finally, it was suggested that it is not clear why homes for Gypsy/Traveller and Travelling Showpeople should be permitted on sites not identified for that use, when other new homes are specifically not supported on land not identified for housing. An associated suggestion was that the policy should set a strong presumption towards allocated sites in the development plan and that only under very exceptionally circumstances should a non-allocated site be supported.

h) Affordable homes in areas where there is an identified requirement

Those who commented at 9(h) sometimes offered their broad support for the policy approach set out, although respondents were looking for clarity on some issues. These included hat is meant by 'area' and whether it refers to the local authority area or to smaller housing market areas? There was also a query about whether the 'requirement' is expected to be derived from the HNDA, LHS or some other form of evidence?

Others raised concerns about 9(h), including that:

  • There can be high expectations of what the private sector can deliver in respect to affordable housing, and this can result in unrealistic LDP policies which can have the effect of stifling all-tenure delivery.
  • Contributions can be hard to deliver in the context of a 'brownfield first' strategy, given the likely high costs of such development.

It was also suggested that for some locations, mid-market rent, low-cost home ownership, community developed housing and in some cases self-provided housing may well be much better, more affordable and desirable options than the usual social rented housing approach.

At least 25%

Some gave their support for the contribution to the provision of affordable homes on a site being at least 25% of the total number of homes, including noting that it reflects the current affordable housing contribution requirements in their area, and that either higher or lower contributions may be appropriate if justified by evidence of need.

However, others did not welcome the approach set out and suggested that, with current SPP saying that the contribution should generally be no more than 25%, 9(h) represents a significant change in policy. Reasons given for disagreeing with the change included that the current 25% benchmark works in practice to some extent, and is now understood and mostly accepted by home builders and landowners.

The concern was that a policy context which encourages variation is likely to result in a highly differentiated mosaic of requirements, which will create uncertainty and confusion and could lead to a significant stifling of the delivery of private and affordable housing. It was suggested that this could also apply to the delivery of all-tenure housing projects and an evidence-based assessment of demand must be matched with funding commitments for sub-market priced housing. Other comments were that:

  • Local authorities are likely to favour requiring a greater contribution over viability concerns.
  • The current text could be interpreted to mean that affordable housing is required at a certain level even when there is no justification for it.

In terms of setting and setting out levels of contribution, it was suggested that there should be a consistent approach for either higher or lower contributions, both of which should be based on local evidence of need. It was also suggested that:

  • It should be made clear that 9(h) should be the default only in the absence of existing, evidenced, up-to-date LDP policies on affordable housing.
  • The appropriate place to set a higher threshold for contributions would be through the development plan, or alternatively the LHS, particularly where the LDP has been in place for some time. It was thought that this would ensure that the local authority's approach is clear, giving certainty to developers and communities and avoiding an ad hoc and inconsistent application of the requirements.
  • A definition of the limits of locations and circumstances where a lower contribution may be appropriate is required, particularly in complex cross- boundary market areas and where joint HNDAs are required.

Other comments on levels of contribution included that:

  • The current wording suggests that, at the point of the determination of a planning application, the 25% provision would need to be applied unless there was adopted LDP policy that permitted a lower provision. It was suggested that discretion to permit a lower provision in LDPs must equally be available to planning authorities in determining an individual application, even where there is no LDP policy in place to that effect.
  • Affordable housing requirements should be set at a local level based on specific viability assessments. The reference to 25% should be omitted and replaced by a statement that market housing must include levels of affordable housing to be agreed at a local authority level.

Serviced land

There were also a small number of references to the role of serviced land. They included a view that serviced land as the contribution is not widely utilised at present. Other comments included that more detail is required, including that:

  • It is important to reference that land can be transferred either at a value relating to its end use for affordable housing, or by agreement between the developer and the local authority or Registered Social Landlord, at a lower value. In any event it should be transferred at less than the value for mainstream housing for sale.
  • The role that other contributions can make to the delivery of affordable housing, such as commuted payments, off site provision or provision of completed units on site, should also be referenced. It was suggested that serviced land may be appropriate in pressurised housing areas due to high land values, but that it is important for national policy and guidance to provide the necessary flexibility for the whole of Scotland.

A suggestion was that 9(h) could refer to developers being expected to make X% of the number of serviced plots available for affordable housing, but that if no funding is available to deliver the affordable housing on site, alternative solutions will be considered.

Exceptions for smaller scale developments

Comments relating to smaller scale development included that it is positive to see this suggestion regarding exceptions. It was suggested, however, that it will be important to be clear about how the unmet need will be adequately assessed. Suggestions included consultation with local elected members, community councils, local development groups and schools, rather than requiring communities to produce costly housing needs surveys.

i) Land not identified for housebuilding

Some respondents noted that they agreed with new homes on land not identified for housebuilding not being supported, but most of those commenting raised concerns about this policy. They included that some of the language used is ambiguous, and that it would be easier to read if it did not use double negatives.

Some respondents, including many 'Development, Property or Land Management Company or Representative Body' respondents were concerned that the 9(i) is far too limited and that there would effectively be no circumstance that would enable a 'normal' housing site to be given permission, unless all of the sites in the housing land pipeline were underway. Suggested changes included that:

  • There must be a mechanism to permit housing on unallocated sites in the event that there are not enough deliverable short- and long-term sites to meet the Housing Land Requirement.
  • In certain circumstances, sites not identified for home building in the LDP should be considered/supported, provided that they are consistent with the Site Assessment Methodology confirmed in the Evidence Report.

A very different perspective was that there are too many exceptions set out at 9(i), or that there should be none. The concern was that, including with the use of 'or' at the third bullet point, the policy suggests that proposals would not have to be consistent with the spatial strategy or other relevant policies. For example, there could be confusion as to whether residential developments which are in unsustainable locations, or do not meet requirements in terms of design or positive effects for biodiversity, could be supported. There were also concerns about the lack of reference to biodiversity and the nature crisis.

There were also a number of issues raised about how the policy would work in practice. These included a concern that, as currently drafted, 9(i) will prevent development of windfall sites in acceptable locations. There was a specific query as the whether the 9(i) would apply to brownfield windfall sites, and it was suggested that this would be overly restrictive.

A number of respondents commented specifically on the first exception relating to progress in the build-out of housing land pipeline sites exceeding delivery timelines. Points included that:

  • Combined with the second exception (an agreed timescale for build-out), the first exception provides significant opportunity for the housing land supply to be disputed. Specifically, it was noted that there is no identified process for measuring whether or not progress in delivering the housing land pipeline is exceeding the delivery timelines, and 'overall progress' is also open to interpretation.
  • It should be understood within the wider context of market forces which are elastic and as such, planning for housing in a period of high development activity may not lead to the sustainable outcomes that NPF4 generally seeks to achieve. NPF4 should be clear that the brownfield first approach should take precedence. Any additional release should be plan-led and linked to a mid-term Plan review. It should be evidenced by updated household projections or other information, rather than granting planning permission in potentially less sustainable locations in a period of high building activity.

A different perspective was that there should be a presumption in favour of sustainable, non-allocated sites being introduced if the accumulating delivery either exceeds or falls short of the housing delivery pipeline by 20% or more for two consecutive years. It was accepted that buffer percentages, and the period of over or under-delivery, should be subject to detailed consideration, but there was a call for clear and objective criteria to be identified.

There were also differences of opinion on the third exception, that a proposal should be consistent with the spatial strategy and other relevant policies. One perspective was that the focus on the plan-led system, and the emphasis on relevant policies, should be retained. There was also a call for a specific reference to green belts. Others were concerned, however, that the third exception could result in continued patterns of growth across rural areas, including pressured areas, without consideration for sustainability, good placemaking, or 20-minute neighbourhoods.

On the fourth and fifth exceptions, comments included that 'small sites' and 'residential areas' should be clearly defined and that:

  • Existing small groups of housing may not be best located for increased density or expansion to be appropriate. It was also noted that while appropriate windfall development within urban areas does tend to be smaller in scale and be within established residential areas, this is not always the case. It was suggested that in limited circumstances larger housing sites, or those in areas not deemed to be predominantly residential in nature, can be acceptable where these will not result in any negative impacts upon the character of the area or surrounding land uses.
  • Sites should be allocated with consideration of a wide range of other policy matters such as the spatial strategy. There was an associated concern that the fifth exception could open the doors to the increased provision of affordable housing on unplanned sites and could undermine the plan-led system. There were calls for the fifth exception to be removed.

j) Householder development

Those who commented sometimes welcomed the content on householder development, although there was also a suggestion that householder applications should be dealt with through LDP design policies and should not be covered in a national planning document.

In terms of the draft NPF as set out, a number of issues were raised, or points of clarification sought. The most frequently-raised query was whether all four of the criteria need to be met. There was also a request for guidance on how the criteria are to be interpreted and prioritised in the decision-making process.

There were some concerns about the criteria relating to providing adaptations relating to people with health conditions and in response to risks from a changing climate. It was assumed that the intention is not that householder development would need to be providing adaptations for health conditions and changing climate. It was suggested that if the intention is to give greater support than otherwise to proposals for health- and climate-related adaptations, then this should be made clear. However, there was also a view that the adaptations criteria should not override those about neighbourhood amenity and should perhaps be removed.

If not removed, there was a call for clarification around:

  • What would be accepted as being an adaptation in response to risks from a changing climate?
  • The definition of 'environmental quality of the house' and 'physical impact'.

Suggested additions included that the detrimental impact criterion should also refer to siting as a key consideration. Other comments or suggestions included that:

  • There should be a link back to Policy 6 (Design, quality and place).
  • A criterion on providing the necessary infrastructure and mitigations to make a development acceptable, for example bin stores, privacy screens and parking (where appropriate), should be added.
  • Consideration should be given to what evidence is likely to be required in relation to adaptations which require planning permission. It should be clear if adaptations include extensions.
  • There should be greater ambition, including around requiring proposals which seek to extend and/or alter the existing built stock to adopt a 'fabric first approach' to improving the energy performance of the existing building.

Policy 10: Sustainable transport

We want to reduce the need to travel unsustainably, decarbonise our transport system and promote active travel choices.

Question 32 – Do you agree that this policy will reduce the need to travel unsustainably, decarbonise our transport system and promote active travel choices?

Around 325 respondents made a comment at Question 32.

Most of those commenting supported the principle and overall direction set out by Policy 10, although most also expressed some reservations and/or suggested amendments or additions.

Some respondents saw the policy as too ambiguous and permissive, expressing concern that it may not be effective in preventing unsustainable development. Other concerns related to delivery of the policy, reflecting a view that its application through development management will be vital to its success. Respondents also questioned the extent to which Policy 10 takes account of the diversity of Scotland's places, with particular concerns regarding the relevance of some parts of the policy for rural and island communities. There were also calls for clearer financial commitments to provide the investment required to support the policy, especially around active travel and public transport infrastructure, and achieving a modal shift from private car use.

Other issues raised included that the policy should:

  • More explicitly highlight the importance of sustainable travel for carbon reduction and the delivery of net zero targets.
  • Be re-ordered, for example reflecting a view that parts relating to active travel and emissions reduction are more important and should be presented earlier in the policy.
  • Make clearer links with other relevant policy and strategy such as the National Transport Strategy, RTSs, Active Travel Strategies, Regional Spatial Strategies, Local Transport Strategies and Active Travel Plans.

It was also suggested that clarity is required regarding how sustainable transport infrastructure is to be assessed as deliverable.

a) LDPs should aim to reduce the need to travel unsustainably by prioritising locations for future development

Some of those commenting simply expressed their support for the role of LDPs in reducing unsustainable travel, with some indicating that this was a key element in their overall support for the policy. Those expressing support also highlighted the potential role in reducing carbon emissions and suggested that reducing unsustainable travel should also be reflected elsewhere in NPF4, such as at Policy 7 (Local living), Policy 8 (Infrastructure first) and Policy 9 (Quality homes).

However, some respondents highlighted concerns or suggested amendments. This was most commonly related to a perception of urban bias across Policy 10 as a whole, and a view that rural areas would face significant challenges in implementing some of its elements.

It was suggested that for many rural and island areas with more limited sustainable transport infrastructure, development proposals are likely to require greater reliance on private car travel than is the case in urban areas. Some wished to see this acknowledged more clearly, for example by providing a wider definition of 'sustainable travel' to allow for differences between urban and rural areas. Suggested amendments included:

  • Referencing more sustainable car travel, such as electric and zero carbon fuel cars or car sharing.
  • Including definitions for 'sufficient infrastructure capacity', 'minimum quality and safety of travel' and explaining what is being referred to in relation to opportunities to incorporate renewable energy generation as part of development.

Respondents also raised concerns that 10(a) could obstruct or prevent NPF4's aim to increase the population of rural and island areas, including by limiting rural development and the strengthening of infrastructure in areas which currently lack sufficient sustainable transport options. It was also suggested that 10(a) would rule out the potential to use rural development to contribute towards the development of more sustainable transport infrastructure in rural areas.

Some respondents also questioned how effective 10(a) was likely to be in reducing unsustainable travel. There was a view that LDPs will not be effective in reducing unsustainable travel until better sustainable travel options are available, particularly in rural areas. It was also suggested that 10(a), and Policy 10 as a whole, do not acknowledge established patterns of development, population movement and service delivery across Scotland, and that planning policy will have limited impact on unsustainable travel without wider work to change these patterns.

Suggested changes to 10(a) included that:

  • LDPs should be required to identify potential for retrofitting sustainable transport infrastructure.
  • Consideration should be given to the requirements set out in LDP regulations and guidance.
  • 10(a) and (b) could be merged.

It was also suggested that 10(a) reflects a requirement placed on LDPs which is considered in more detail by LDP regulation and guidance, and as such may not be an appropriate NPF policy.

b) LDPs should be informed by an appropriate and effective transport appraisal

Comments in support of 10(b) included particular reference to the requirement for LDPs to be supported by a transport appraisal, the application of sustainable travel and investment hierarchies, and the promotion of 20-minute neighbourhoods. However, most of those commenting highlighted issues or suggested changes.

Some wished to see 10(b) strengthened, with specific suggestions included making clear that developments which do not support the sustainable travel hierarchy will not be approved, and requiring that developments in less suitable locations are leveraged to improve active travel and public transport infrastructure.

Some questioned whether the Development Planning and Management Transport Appraisal Guidance (DPMTAG) should continue to be the benchmark for transport appraisals. These respondents noted that this guidance is now more than 10-years old and highlighted the extent to which the policy context has changed over this period, including through the refocusing of transport priorities under National Transport Strategy 2 (NTS2). This view was reflected in calls for DPMTAG to be reviewed and updated as a matter of urgency. The DPMTAG process was also described as resource intensive for smaller planning authorities, and it was suggested that greater flexibility in the transport appraisal approach may be appropriate. There was also concern that shared transport is not referenced by transport appraisal guidance, with suggestions that this should be included as one of the alternative transport modes to support the decarbonisation of travel.

Other suggested amendments included the need to:

  • Set out the sustainable travel and investment hierarchies in NPF4.
  • Make clear the links to Policy 7 (Local living) and other sections of NPF4 that cover 20-minute neighbourhoods.
  • Include clearer cross-referencing to LDP regulations and guidance.
  • Reference cross-boundary movement and partnership working through Regional Spatial Strategies.
  • Reference the link to supporting rural repopulation and the delivery of Policy 31 (Rural places).

c) A transport assessment is required where a development or change is likely to generate a significant increase in the number of person trips

The meaning of 'significant' in relation to person trips was the main focus for most of those commenting, with calls for NPF4 to set out a clear definition. It was recognised that the threshold may vary for different proposals, but some felt that a clear measure could be provided to ensure clarity and consistency of approach. There were suggestions that the definition should favour sustainability, for example referencing the NTS2 target to reduce car kilometres by 20% by 2030, and/or expecting a majority of these trips to be made by sustainable means.

Some also wished to see greater clarity on the recommended approach to the transport assessment, including who will be responsible for undertaking the assessment and delivering any measures required to address the identified transport impact. Strengthening 10(c) to state that developments which are likely to generate a significant increase in person trips will not be supported if the transport assessment indicates that these will be predominantly by private car was also proposed.

It was also suggested that 10(c) does not recognise the complexity of response required to a development which generates a significant increase in the number of person trips. There were calls for encouraging the reimagining of town centres to create sustainable places that put people first, removing the focus on cars.

d) Significant travel generating uses and other relevant developments must be accompanied by a Travel Plan

Most of those commenting focused on the meaning of 'significant travel generating uses'. Respondents wished to see NPF4 set out a clear definition of 'significant' to ensure clarity for developers and communities and a consistent approach across Scotland. As was noted in relation to 10(c), some wished to see the definition include reference to sustainability of travel, including specific reference to ensuring consistency with current SPP. It was also suggested that a clear definition of 'smaller scale development' is required to ensure clarity for developers and communities.

Reference was also made to monitoring of Travel Plans, including suggestions that this should be linked to targets set by LDPs and Local Transport Strategies. Some also wished to see updated guidance to inform the approach to Travel Plans, and it was suggested that funding will be needed to deliver improvements and mitigation measures identified by such plans.

e) Proposals with the potential to affect the operation and safety of the strategic transport network require a full impact assessment

Some objected to developers being required to meet the costs of mitigation measures to ensure the continued safe and effective operation of the strategic transport network. These respondents noted that strategic transport interventions often have a spatially wide-ranging impact, and suggested that the costs of mitigation should not be met by a single developer when there is a wider benefit. It was also suggested that mitigation costs should not be met by one developer where this would make the development unviable. There was also concern that 10(e) could result in developers being held responsible for the cost of rectifying existing deficiencies in transport infrastructure. There was a call for guidance for local authorities on what is to be considered a reasonable cost to be met by developers.

Other suggested changes included:

  • Providing clarification around whether the capacity of existing infrastructure and mitigation measures required are expected to be identified through a transport assessment, and whether assessment of development impacts refers only to the interest of Transport Scotland.
  • Adding a requirement that mitigation measures are sustainable.
  • Expanding 10(e) to consider proposals that may affect any part of the transport network, rather than being limited to the strategic transport network only.

f) New junctions on trunk roads will only be considered where significant benefits can be demonstrated

Many of those commenting noted that the provision of new junctions on trunk roads is a function of Transport Scotland, including some who felt that this issue should not be covered in NPF. Others suggested an amendment to allow consideration of developments supported by specific LDP proposals, which would have been agreed in principle with Transport Scotland.

Others suggested that permitting expansion of road capacity is not consistent with the spirit of NPF4 and the NTS2 hierarchy, along with the commitment to reduce car kilometres by 20%. Concerns were raised that 10(f) could lead to the justification of unsustainable development.

To ensure a consistent approach, some saw a need for a clear definition of 'significant prosperity or regeneration benefits'. Other suggested changes included:

  • Referencing the application of 'Designing Streets' policy and guidance where trunk roads are within urban boundaries.
  • Adding a requirement for any new junctions to support sustainable travel, including public transport and active travel.
  • The inclusion of carbon emissions associated with the construction and future use of trunk road junctions as considerations for refusing development proposals.

g) Development proposals should put people and place before unsustainable travel

Many of those commenting expressed support for 10(g), including the particular reference to the opportunity to incorporate blue and green infrastructure and nature rich habitats as part of new transport infrastructure.

However, some felt that 10(g) needs to be strengthened if it is to be effective, for example by requiring that all new transport infrastructure incorporates blue and green infrastructure, that all development proposals put people and place before unsustainable travel, and that all development reduces the number and speed of vehicles and provides safe crossings. It was suggested that these changes are required to ensure consistency with Scottish Government climate change targets. It was also suggested that there should be an emphasis on the importance of sustainable transport and investment hierarchies when considering proposals.

Other suggested changes included:

  • Adding a clear definition of 'unsustainable travel' for Policy 10 as a whole, 10(g) specifically.
  • Proving clarity on 10(g)'s application in rural areas with poor existing transport infrastructure
  • Referencing the reallocation of road space to prioritise non-motorised users, as part of designing places which put people first.
  • Ensuring placement of new transport infrastructure avoids negative impacts on existing habitats and biodiversity, and incorporates wildlife mitigation measures.
  • Encouraging a more joined-up approach between planning and roads departments to ensure effective implementation.
  • Making clearer links with Policy 6 (Design, quality and place) and the 'Designing Streets' guidance. This included calls for existing 'Designing Streets' guidance to be refreshed.

h) Significant travel generating uses should not be supported where these would increase reliance on the private car

Some respondents wished to see 10(h) strengthened to make clear that any developments that increase private car reliance should not be supported, irrespective of associated sustainable transport infrastructure. These respondents suggested that this stronger formulation is required to meet Scottish Government climate change targets, including the commitment to a 20% reduction in car kilometres by 2030. It was also suggested that NPF4 should make clear that developments should meet all three criteria set out under 10(h) if they are to be considered.

Others felt that 10(h) should be more realistic in its aim to reduce car use, and there was a view that the private car will remain a key mode of transport for many people in the short to medium term. There was some scepticism around how effective NPF4 can be in reducing reliance on the private car, for example without significant changes in public attitudes towards other travel modes. This included references to a need for significant behavioural change, and substantial investment in public transport and other sustainable transport infrastructure.

There were also concerns about how 10(h) would affect rural and island areas, particularly in the context of support for rural repopulation and supporting the rural economy. Some wished to see an exception for rural development, which they expected to support repopulation and/or bring prosperity benefits. Respondents also suggested that allowances for more sustainable means of private car travel, such as electric vehicles and different vehicle ownership models, should be included.

Respondents also raised issues about the implementation of this part of policy. This included calls for a definition of 'significant transport generating uses', especially in the context of rural and island areas, and clarification on how the 400m threshold for walking or wheeling compares to the spatial definition of 20-minute neighbourhoods. In relation to transport assessments, there were calls for DPMTAG to be updated to ensure all modes of sustainable transport are considered.

i) Development proposals and sustainable transport

Some of those commenting saw a need for further clarity to support interpretation and implementation of 10(i). This included calls for policy guidance to support planning authorities in its application in the development management process. Clarity was also sought on whether all development proposals are expected to meet the criteria set out under 10(i), with some suggesting that it should be made clear that it only applies to developments 'where appropriate'.

Others wished to see a stronger requirement on developments that they 'must', rather than 'should', meet the criteria set out in NPF4. It was also suggested that 10(i) should be reflected at Policy 6 (Design, quality and place) in relation to design, and at Policy 23 (Digital infrastructure).

In terms of particular aspects of 10(i), most of those commenting referred specifically to public transport and the provision of low or zero emission vehicle and cycle charging points.

In relation to developments being accessible by public transport, it was noted that all current registered bus services in Scotland receive on-going public sector funding, and some suggested that very few parts of the public transport network in rural areas are commercially viable. There were calls for the policy to acknowledge the challenges facing public transport in rural and island areas in particular. This included reference to the potential role of community transport schemes. It was also suggested that reference to access by public transport should be expanded to include all sustainable transport, including access by active travel modes. A definition of 'reliable public transport' was also requested.

The focus on provision of low or zero emission vehicle and cycle charging points was specifically welcomed by some. This included support for provision in rural areas and included calls for a requirement that all rural housing development includes provision of vehicle charging points. There was also support for the provision of electric vehicle and cycle infrastructure in economically disadvantaged areas, reflecting a concern that market forces alone may not deliver the required infrastructure in these areas. A requirement for electric vehicle charging points for all domestic and commercial development was seen as one way of ensuring that disadvantaged areas benefit.

Comment on the provision of low or zero emission vehicle and cycle charging included calls for greater clarity on what developments are expected to provide in terms of vehicle and cycle charging points, for example with some noting that it is unclear whether hydrogen networks will be developed within the life of NPF4. There was said to a need for national requirements and standards. Some wished to see reference to charging points for personal mobility scooters and e-scooters. It was also suggested that the policy should make clear whether charging points must be provided within the boundary of the development, or whether provision of charging points and/or network development elsewhere is acceptable. Some also wished to see a requirement for a clear justification of why charging points cannot be provided within a development.

Reference was also made to the impact of vehicle charging infrastructure on the electricity grid. This included calls for 10(i) to include explicit consideration of this impact and a perceived role for on-site energy generation to help mitigate impacts on the electricity grid.

j) Proposals to improve active travel infrastructure or public/multimodal transport hubs should be supported where deliverable

There was support for the focus on the potential role of easily accessible active travel infrastructure in encouraging a modal shift away from cars. Some thought that this aspect should be given greater priority in Policy 10 and include links to relevant national policy targets. It was also suggested that making the provision or funding of sustainable travel infrastructure mandatory, or requiring all new or widened roads to incorporate traffic-separated active travel, would strengthen the approach.

Concerns were raised around the scale of change required to achieve a significant shift towards active travel and public transport use, including the need for additional investment in both active travel infrastructure and public transport. Some wished to see NPF4 set out further detail on the scale of investment required. This included calls for public funds to be dedicated to upgrading active travel infrastructure and public transport links across Scotland, reflecting a view that the scale of investment required cannot be met by developers alone.

It was also suggested that 10(j) should be extended to protect existing active travel routes from other development, noting that active travel infrastructure such as the National Cycle Route are not protected in the same way as road and rail routes. Some also wished to see support for other sustainable transport options such as community transport schemes.

There were some concerns regarding how 'deliverable' is to be defined in relation to transport hubs, and the potential for this lack of clarity to lead to developers seeking to disprove the viability of sustainable infrastructure. This was seen as a particular issue given that many sustainable transport developments may only be viable with some form of subsidy.

Other issues and suggested amendments included:

  • A definition and further guidance are required in relation to 'mode share targets'.
  • Reference should be made to the role of street design in supporting active travel modes over vehicular traffic, including reference to 'Cycling by Design'. There was also support for the identification of active travel links and public transport links from the outset of development design. Respondents wished to see NPF4 encourage early engagement with public transport planners and operators for all large-scale development.
  • Making clear that proposals to improve active travel infrastructure or public/multimodal transport hubs must also be assessed against other national and local policies.
  • Clarifying whether demonstrating that the proposed development can be delivered is a material planning consideration?

Reference was also made to specific infrastructure and amenities which respondents wished to see supported, including:

  • Cycle-related amenities and infrastructure including dedicated cycle lanes, charging stations, repair facilities and parking and storage.
  • Ensuring people feel safe using active travel infrastructure, such as through the use of passive surveillance.
  • Incorporating electric vehicle charging, clean fuel and last mile logistics as part of multimodal hubs and other transport infrastructure.
  • Provision of greened active travel infrastructure.

k) Transport infrastructure proposals must consider the needs of users of all ages and abilities

Respondents sought further detail on several aspects to ensure effective and consistent implementation of 10(k). This included calls for clarity around the types of transport infrastructure to which it will apply, which equalities legislation is to be considered and how the needs of users are to be assessed and prioritised. 'Cycling by Design' was seen providing a potential definition of user groups and abilities.

Clarity was also sought on how 10(k) links to other legislation and policy. Respondents questioned whether the policy would require planning authorities to assess all planning applications against equalities legislation, with some questioning whether this should be included in planning policy if it is a requirement of equalities legislation. Respondents also referred to the Public Sector Equalities Duty to involve people with protected characteristics in EQIAs and other assessments, and to links with Policy 4 (Human rights and equality).

Specific groups which respondents wished to see reflected included:

  • Women, including their specific experience using public transport.
  • Those with mobility needs. This included reference to the concerns of disabled people that the poor design of some active travel schemes limits their ability to use sustainable travel modes. It was also suggested that the private car remains a vital mobility aid for many. There were calls for reference to the provision of disabled parking.
  • Children and young people, especially the potential for safety and cost concerns to limit their participation in active travel.

l) Proposals should consider the need for cycle parking

Some respondents specifically welcomed the support for cycle storage and parking, including reference to the potential for an increased need for cycle storage if other parts of Policy 10 are successful in encouraging a shift to active travel options.

However, it was suggested that 10(l) should be strengthened by setting out the level and type of cycle parking that development proposals are expected to include, rather than asking developers to 'consider' the provision of cycle parking. There was a particular concern that the policy should ensure provision of sufficient volume and size of cycle parking for the anticipated number and profile of households, recognising that some households will have multiple cycles. Some also wished to see a requirement that all cycle parking is sheltered and accessible.

Reference was made to 'Cycling by Design' as setting out relevant standards for cycle parking, and to the role of Policy 6 (Design, quality and space) in relation to the design of cycle parking. However, some questioned whether 10(l) adds to the design considerations already set out at Policy 6.

Some respondents also wanted to see 10(l) extended to include secure parking provision for powered mobility devices, and charging facilities for electric bikes and powered mobility scooters. These respondents also wished to see a greater emphasis on the security of cycle parking, for example to ensure those with high value electric bikes feel comfortable using cycle storage.

A small number of respondents also queried the reference to 'existing nearby provision' of cycle parking. This included requests for further clarity on how 'nearby' is to be defined and assessed.

m) Development proposals with low or no car parking provision

There were calls for these types of development to be given greater prominence under Policy 10, and for greater emphasis across NPF4 on the role of planning policy in limiting car parking provision. Some respondents also suggested a stronger approach for 10(m), for example that only developments meeting specific criteria will be supported, or a requirement that all developments in urban areas propose low/no car parking provision.

To ensure a consistent approach across planning authorities, and to resolve any disagreement with developers at the development management stage, some saw a need for clarity regarding how 'very accessible' is to be defined. It was also suggested that the relationship with 20-minute neighbourhoods should be considered, and that 10(m) should be expanded to include 'accessible', in addition to 'very accessible', urban places.

Other issues and suggested amendments included:

  • Encouragement of developments with low or no car parking should not be at the expense of those who are not able to use active travel or other sustainable transport modes.
  • Consideration should be given to ensuring compatibility with National Roads Development Guidance.
  • The maximum parking standards set out at Annex B should be referenced in the main body of NPF4.

However, it was also suggested that 10(m) is not enforceable as currently written and should be removed.

Suggested additions

Respondents wished to see several policy areas and objectives given greater prominence in Policy 10. These included:

  • Calls for a separate part of the policy specifically focused on rural development in the context of supporting rural repopulation. This included suggestions to include specific allowances and exceptions for rural development.
  • Greater emphasis on climate change targets and the decarbonisation of travel, including support for electric and zero carbon fuel vehicles, a reduction in associated energy demand, and improving the climate resilience of transport infrastructure.
  • The need for a specific reference to core path networks.
  • The policy should support integration of renewable energy generation as part of transport infrastructure development.
  • There should be greater consideration of the need for planning authorities to work together to deliver NPF4 policies given the cross-boundary nature of travel and freight.

Comments on Policy 10 also included reference to several transport modes and sectors which respondents wished to see better represented. These included:

  • The sustainable transport of goods and materials, with reference to freight hubs, supporting a shift in freight from road to rail, last mile deliveries and cycle logistics.
  • The role of aviation and airports for Scotland's international and UK connectivity and exports, and for island communities. This included reference to airport decarbonisation and reflected concerns that the policy, as currently written, could make it more difficult to deliver airport development.
  • Sustainable transport links and other development considerations around High Speed Rail (ND13).
  • Hybrid ferries.

Policy 11: Heating and cooling

We want our places to help us achieve zero emissions from heating and cooling our buildings and adapt to changing temperatures.

Question 33 – Do you agree that this policy will help us achieve zero emissions from heating and cooling our buildings and adapt to changing temperatures?

Around 240 respondents made a comment at Question 33.

Some of these respondents expressed their support for the overall approach set out by Policy 11. This included particular reference to the contribution that this policy can make to the decarbonisation of heat. Some requested clearer links between the policy and other aspects of NPF4 relating to heat decarbonisation, and also to other relevant standards such as the Passivhaus standard. There was also support for the joined-up approach proposed, for example with reference to LHEES, and the Heat Networks (Scotland) Act 2001.

However, some noted that heating is already controlled by Building Standards and sought greater clarity on the anticipated role of the policy in relation to these. This included suggestions that Building Standards may be a better means of achieving Policy 11's objectives. It was also suggested that aspects overlap with LDP Regulations and Guidance. These points sometimes reflected a wider view that NPF4 should be clear about how its policy relates to other legislation and regulation. Reference was made here to the Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009 and the Heat in Buildings Strategy, and there were specific calls for greater consideration of the affordability of zero emission heating and cooling, for example through links to the Fuel Poverty Strategy.

Others suggested that the draft NPF is unrealistic regarding the achievability of aspects of Policy 11. Concerns were raised regarding the potential scale of resources required, for example in the assessment of technical proposals. More specific concerns were raised around the role of heat networks, with some of the view that the policy is too narrowly focused on technology. For example, it was suggested that, while heat networks can deliver benefits for some development, NPF4 should better recognise what were seen as commercial, practical and viability constraints on the integration of heat networks with new residential developments. Particular concerns were raised regarding constraints on heat networks in areas of lower density heat demand. Respondents wished to see greater flexibility in the promotion of heat networks alongside alternative approaches.

Some respondents also referred to the role of other heating and cooling technologies. For example, it was suggested that evidence is limited on the potential for incinerators to generate heat from waste in Scotland, and does not justify a prominent role for this technology. In contrast, there were calls for greater prominence and further detail on the role of low carbon heat pumps, particularly in replacing fossil fuel and wood-fire domestic heating. This included reference to research identifying the potential for heat pumps to contribute to heat decarbonisation. Others wished to see greater emphasis on the retrofitting of existing buildings and heat networks, reflecting a view that retrofitting will have a significant role to play in delivering decarbonisation targets.

Finally, some respondents suggested specific changes to the draft NPF to remove what was seen as overly ambiguous references and to strengthen the policy. For example, requiring developers to 'be consistent with' or 'align with', rather than 'take account of' specific policies.

a) LDP land allocation should take account of LHEES and heat network potential

Most of those commenting expressed support for the link between NPF4 and LHEES, including heat network zoning and support for heat networks. However, there were also calls for further guidance on how the spatial implications of LDPs are expected to align with LHEES and heat network zoning.

Respondents also suggested amendments to strengthen the policy, including through further consideration of how it can contribute to the decarbonisation of heat. For example, some wished to see 11(a) ensure that the full range of low and zero carbon heating options are considered as part of the LHEES and heat network zoning process, and there were calls for clarity regarding whether NPF4 aims to actively encourage identification of new development that can support heat network zones. It was also suggested that 11(a) could go further by requiring LDPs to link to Energy Plans and consider whole energy system opportunities.

Other suggested additions included:

  • Given the significant emphasis on heat network zones at 11(a) and across Policy 11 as a whole, providing further guidance to ensure that heat network zoning is underpinned by a robust evidence base. It was suggested that this should include specifics for a coordinated approach to heat mapping, with reference to the Scotland Heat Map.
  • Adding a reference to energy efficiency and reducing energy demand as part of the energy hierarchy.
  • Highlighting that consideration of existing and planned heat networks should not limit allocation of land.

It was also suggested that 11(a) should recognise potential challenges in convincing developers to connect to local heat networks even where these are already in place, and consider potential need for further legislation and/or financial incentives.

However, there was also a view that 11(a) is a statement of LDP requirements, and as such should not be included in development plan policy.

b) Development proposals should be supported where they connect to existing heat networks, especially within heat network zones

Many of those commenting expressed their general support for 11(b). There was particular support for the role of 11(b) and (c) in terms of future-proofing development to enable connection to future heat networks. However, it was also suggested that the relatively small number of existing and planned heat networks may limit their scope.

Some wished to see strengthening or clarification of what is envisaged. For example, there were calls for more clarity around how planning authorities should deal with cases where the design of a heat network zone means that development proposals cannot connect to the network. It was also noted that 11(b) does not ensure subsequent connection to a heat network, and there was a concern that this could lead to the redundancy of infrastructure. In this context, it was suggested that 11(b) should require that any development in a heat network area facilitates further expansion of the heat network. It was also suggested that NPF4 should reference the role of energy statements in the assessment of development proposals against 11(b).

Respondents cited a range of other considerations that may impact on the assessment of development proposals against 11(b), and potentially conflict with its aims. These included reference to cost effectiveness, technical feasibility including heat network capacity, proximity distance buffers, and other planning legislation such as listed building status. There were also calls for clarity regarding interpretation of 'including retrofit where appropriate', and a perceived need for further guidance on retrofit proposals, including any development types that will be exempt.

Respondents noted that significant technical expertise may be required to assess development proposals and potential for retrofit against 11(b). It was also suggested that the assessment of development proposals may be more complicated where heat network zones include multiple heat networks.

c) Development proposals in locations where heat networks are planned should only be supported where they allow for later connection

Some expressed their support for 11(c) and especially for the future proofing of development to facilitate the provision of heat networks. However, most of those commenting raised issues or suggested amendments. These included suggestions to extend the scope of 11(c), for example to require all development proposals to enable future connection to a heat network if there is potential for a network to be developed in the area and even if there are no existing plans. Some specifically referenced the potential for 11(c) to provide greater demand certainty for future heat network development, including suggestions that the delivery of development proposals could encourage investment in a new heat network.

Others sought clarity around aspects of 11(c). There were calls for:

  • Further detail on how development proposals are expected to allow for future connection
  • Guidance on how cost effectiveness is to be determined.
  • Clarity on the timescale over which development proposals should be expected to plan for future development of heat networks.

Some wished to ensure that any definitions or guidance relating to 11(c) are consistent with Building Standards. It was also suggested that planning conditions should have a role to play in the control of development proposals to ensure implementation of plans for future heat network connection.

There were some concerns about the implementation of 11(c), including in relation to the expertise and resources required. For example, it was suggested that planning authorities may not have the necessary knowledge to assess whether a development proposal would allow for cost effective connection to a heat network in the future, particularly given the potential for continuing technological development. Some also raised concerns regarding the potential for redundancy of development where the technical profile of planned heat networks change. In this context, there were calls for further guidance to inform the assessment of proposals against 11(c). Some also wished to see NPF4 make clear that any development proposals would also have to be assessed against other relevant policies.

Respondents also expressed a view that there is limited developer confidence in heat networks and saw this as a potential barrier to delivery. It was suggested that, to overcome this barrier, 11(c) should be supported by:

  • Independent research into the viability of heat networks.
  • Funding support.
  • A statutory requirement to plan for future networks.

Other queries or suggested changes included:

  • That clarity is required around the handling of cases where a planned heat network may not be commissioned in time for a development proposal, for example by giving consideration to temporary low carbon heating solutions until the heat network is in place.
  • Whether 11(c) would rule out other individual low or zero carbon heating and cooling systems, for example where these may be more feasible than heat networks with a single supplier of heat?

There were also concerns regarding the in-situ performance of heat networks, and the extent to which support for this form of heating can make a significant contribution to the decarbonisation of heat.

d) Development proposals with no effective option for a heat network connection should provide alternative low/zero emission heating

Some of those commenting noted their support, but most raised issues or suggested amendments. These included suggestions to strengthen 11(d), and Policy 11 as a whole, for example to ensure that all development from 2024 onwards complies with the New Build Heat Standard, even where development has been approved prior to 2024.

Respondents highlighted several aspects of 11(d) as needing to be clarified. There were specific concerns about what is to be classified as 'low or zero emissions heating', and the capacity of planning authorities to assess whether a heating system is low or zero carbon. There was a call for guidance to support planning authorities, including a suggestion that this should consider the potential impact of alternative heating systems on fuel poverty. Other areas highlighted as in need of clarification included whether 11(d) would apply to changes of use, in addition to new build proposals, and whether it should only apply to proposals that are not within or near to a heat network zone.

Some respondents suggested that the relatively limited supply of heat networks could result in a substantial proportion of development proposals falling under 11(d), particularly in more rural areas. This reflected a view that 11(d) should recognise issues of heat density requirements in rural and semi-rural areas. Concerns were also raised around the development industry's capacity to provide alternative low or zero carbon heating systems by the time of NPF4's publication, with some seeing a need for a transition period as part of a national decarbonisation plan. Some respondents also wished to see exceptions for some types of development proposals, such as small householder extensions, proposals that do not have any heating or cooling requirements, and marine aquaculture development.

Other suggested amendments included that:

  • Reference should be made to the New Build Heat Standard due to come into effect from 2024, including clarification of whether 11(d) is expected to supercede the 2024 date for implementation of the new standard.
  • There should be links to Policy 6 (Design, quality and place) in relation to the importance of siting and design for heating and cooling.

It was also suggested that 11(d) could be more effectively delivered via Building Standards.

e) National/major development with waste heat should be co-located in areas of heat demand, and include a heat and power plan for use of waste heat

While some of those commenting noted their support, most highlighted concerns or suggested amendments.

Some saw a need for the refinement of 11(e) and/or inclusion of specific exceptions. There were concerns regarding the potential for the co-location of national and major development to adversely affect residential amenity and safety, and a view that this may limit the scope of this part of the policy. Some called for additional guidance on whether 11(e) anticipates the co-location of industrial and residential development.

Concerns were raised around the technical expertise required to assess the appropriateness and feasibility of planned energy recovery, and the capacity of planning authorities to identify and enforce requirements to ensure development complies with 11(e). It was also suggested that consideration of amenity, and health and safety implications of co-location, may lead to an excessive burden on developers. There were calls for clear design guidance to assist applicants, for example in relation to pipe runs, pipe work and connection. Some also suggested that effective incentives and/or remedies should be used to ensure that the heat and power plan is implemented within a reasonable period where it is technically and financially feasible to do so.

f) Energy infrastructure proposals should take account of heat maps and zoning

While some respondents expressed their support for the role of heat maps and zoning in relation to energy infrastructure proposals, most of those commenting were looking for changes.

Some respondents wanted to see 11(f) set out a wider range of considerations for energy infrastructure proposals. There was reference to national and regional infrastructure and systems, national energy strategy, and renewable and low carbon energy policy. These suggestions reflected concerns about the potential impact of development on the electricity grid, including suggestions that 11(f) should also recognise the regulated asset investment approach that applies to Distributed Network Operators (DNOs). It was suggested that DNOs should be consulted on energy infrastructure proposals where relevant.

Specific concerns were raised around support for development proposals that repurpose former fossil fuel infrastructure, and how such proposals will be assessed. For example, it was suggested that the assessment of proposals will need to balance a range of technical considerations, for example relating to technology choices, carbon savings and financial viability, with wider place and design considerations to ensure that the repurposing of infrastructure does not adversely affect communities.

Other issues raised included:

  • Clarity is required regarding which developments should be included within the definition of 'energy infrastructure', including suggestions that this should exclude wind turbines and power lines.
  • There is a degree of overlap between 11(f) and (h). It was suggested that the two could be merged or amended to make clear that 11(f) applies only to proposals connected to excess heat.
  • Links should be made with 11(a) in relation to LHEES and heat network zoning.

g) Domestic biomass energy systems should not be supported where networked systems are available

Comments included that 11(g) is based on an assumption that connection to gas or electricity for heat is more desirable than biomass. Some questioned the validity of this assumption, suggesting that air quality should not be impacted by most modern biomass systems, and that biomass may be preferable to gas in terms of carbon emissions. Others wished to see NPF4 take a stronger stance against biomass, including calls for 11(g) to state that new biomass development should not be supported anywhere. This view appeared to reflect concerns around the potential environmental impact of biomass development, including in terms of carbon emissions.

Respondents also highlighted several aspects requiring clarification or further guidance. Clarity was sought on the range of properties to which the policy would apply. For example, respondents queried whether it would apply to the large majority of domestic dwellings with networked electricity, and whether 11(g) would apply outwith smoke control areas. Some suggested that it is not consistent with current permitted development regulations on domestic biomass burners. In this context, it was suggested that 11(g) should be delivered through Building Standards.

Concerns were raised around implementation, with respondents noting that planning policy cannot enforce network connection. It was also suggested that technical expertise will be required to assess the appropriateness and affordability of proposals. There was a particular concern around how planning authorities can determine whether a networked connection is 'available', and whether they have the expertise to assess air quality impacts.

h) Development proposals should be supported where they repurpose former fossil fuel infrastructure for low carbon energy

Most of those commenting sought clarity on aspects of 11(h), and how it will be implemented. For example, some questioned whether it supports all developments which repurpose fossil fuel infrastructure for low carbon energy, and suggested that it should set out criteria or thresholds to help identification of which development proposals are to be supported. There was a view that 11(h) provides an opportunity to prioritise development types that can support the re-skilling of workers from fossil fuel industries.

Other issues and suggested amendments included:

  • 11(h) should be amended to include proposals where surplus heat will be generated, but which are not within or near to a heat network zone, and where there is no attempt to use surplus heat.
  • The relationship between 11(h) and (f) should be clarified, with some suggesting they could be merged.
  • 11(h) may be limited in terms of its contribution to decarbonisation of heat, if the benefit of any usable surplus heat is offset by inefficient main development proposals.

i) Development proposals should be designed to promote sustainable temperature management

There was support for referring to the potential for sustainable temperature management as way of reducing demand on the electricity grid, and to cope with anticipated increased temperatures as a result of climate change. However, most of those commenting raised issues or suggested amendments.

Calls for further detail on several aspects of 11(i) reflected a view that, as currently written, it does not provide the level of information required to promote sustainable temperature management. In addition to calls for further detail on the use of building design and positioning, respondents wished to see reference to mechanical heat recovery, ambient temperature heat networks, and blue-green infrastructure. To ensure energy efficiency and indoor air quality, it was also suggested that 11(i) should recognise that there may be a need for mechanical temperature management to support natural or passive systems in some circumstances. This included reference to building design standards such as Passivhaus and EnerPHit where natural systems alone may not be sufficient.

It was also suggested that the planning system may have limited capacity to deliver the passive heating and cooling highlighted. There was a concern that planning authorities may lack the skills and expertise to assess temperature management proposals. It was also suggested that retro-fitting existing buildings to deliver sustainable temperature management will be significantly more challenging than delivery through new development.

Other suggested amendments included that there should be:

  • A greater emphasis should be placed on a fabric first approach to reduce heating and cooling requirements.
  • Explicit links to relevant considerations around energy storage, siting and design, including reference to Policy 6 (Design, quality and place) and Policy 12 (Blue and green infrastructure, play and sport).
  • Clarification around interpretation of the term 'occupied' for the purposes of 11(i).

It was also suggested that 11(i) would be more appropriately delivered through Building Standards.

Policy 12: Blue and green infrastructure, play and sport

We want our places to be greener, healthier, and more resilient to climate change by supporting and enhancing blue and green infrastructure and providing good quality local opportunities for play and sport.

Question 34 – Do you agree that this policy will help to make our places greener, healthier, and more resilient to climate change by supporting and enhancing blue and green infrastructure and providing good quality local opportunities for play and sport?

Around 305 respondents made a comment on Question 34.

Most respondents were supportive of the policy, albeit that many of those who agreed, or partly agreed with the policy went on to make suggestions for change.

In terms of the breadth of the policy, it was suggested that 'blue and green infrastructure' should be separated from 'play and sport', as they are not necessarily related. For example, it was suggested that some developments may have high recreational value for the community but be of little benefit to the ecosystem. Another view was that blue and green infrastructure should also not be covered in the same policy.

Some respondents were looking for cross-referencing to the role of key agencies, including Scottish Water and SEPA, and to other policies, strategies and plans that are either likely to influence NPF4 directly or because of their impact on LDPs. Suggestions included:

  • Referencing Open Space Strategies, Play Sufficiency Assessments, Local Place Plans, SuDS, Green Networks and Nature Networks.
  • Highlighting that blue infrastructure requirements should align with guidance and regulations for roads.
  • Referencing statutory access rights under the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003. This was connected to a concern that public access rights might be at risk of being undermined.

It was also suggested that clear linkages should be made between Policy 12 and other NPF4 policies, including Policy 8 (Infrastructure first).

Respondents also raised concerns about the practicality of implementing the policy, including in relation to the possible impact on local authority maintenance budgets. Other implementation-related issues raised included that:

  • The policy should identify standards and an approach to assessing requirements and monitoring delivery on the ground. This should include accessibility and quality.
  • It is unclear how the development management process will assist planning authorities in making sure that developers have funding in place for long-term green and blue infrastructure. It was suggested that further guidance may be required.
  • Consistent policy interpretation across local authorities requires more detail, including guidance and a methodology for delivery. It was suggested that a Geographical Information System mapping process be considered.
  • Guidance is needed on how much of an allocated site should be given to blue and green infrastructure and open space.

a) Local development plans identify and protect blue and green infrastructure

Suggestions for improvement included changing or expanding 12(a) as follows:

  • There should be explicit reference to the role of blue and green infrastructure in nature-based solutions and local habitat recovery and biodiversity.
  • Land uses that restore nature should be favoured, with consideration given to identifying new developments that can enhance existing blue and green infrastructure.
  • There should be a clear reference to the need for planning decisions and developments to protect existing local paths, including key informal routes.
  • The importance of community food growing should be reflected. It was reported that this has multiple benefits around local health, wellbeing, biodiversity, food security and reducing food miles.

b) New enhanced provision/improved access to play opportunities for children

There were some concerns about blue infrastructure play opportunities for children potentially being unachievable due to health and safety issues. Others felt this policy should include specific mention of identifying and protecting 'wild spaces' available for children.

It was also observed that outdoor sports facilities are part of open space, and it was suggested that they should be included.

There was also a view that, while LDPs may reference new and enhanced play opportunities, it is more likely that the primary responsibility for these opportunities will lie with Open Space Strategies.

c) Fragmentation or net loss of existing blue and green infrastructure

Many of those commenting on Policy 12 addressed the issues of 'overall integrity' and 'net loss'. Their comments included that more detail and guidance on 'overall integrity' would be helpful, including how this will be assessed. It was also noted that local authorities will require the technical expertise to assess the integrity of networks.

There were concerns that if small amounts of fragmentation are allowed, over time the impact will be cumulative. It was suggested that the policy appears to allow support for development proposals that do not impact the 'overall integrity' of the network of blue and green infrastructure, with an associated concern that this could mean that open spaces of importance to local neighbourhoods are lost because of their limited impact on the overall network.

There was also a concern that referring to 'net loss' would allow significant changes to blue and green infrastructure to be supported, providing there is no net loss of land.

d) Development proposals in regional and country parks

Comments included that there is no indication given of the possible scale of possible developments within regional and country parks. Some respondents observed that there should be a reference to the historic environment and also to the cultural heritage of regional and country parks.

e) Safeguarding outdoor sports facilities

There was a view that a strategic understanding of places for sport, and an evidence-based approach, will be required when assessing the need for outdoor sports facilities. There was also a call for clarity around which bodies/stakeholders will assess proposals to determine whether the thresholds set out 12(e) have been maintained or breached.

It was noted that the policy focuses on outdoor sports facilities, with some respondents highlighting the importance of indoor sports and multi-use games areas. It was suggested that where there is insufficient need for outdoor sports facilities, there is a risk that allocated land may become 'dead space'.

f) Loss of children's outdoor play provision

Some respondents felt that the lack of clear definitions at 12(f) could lead to difficulties in implementation. For example, there was a query as to whether 'provision' would extend to any open space or refers only to formal play areas such as playgrounds?

Other comments or suggestions included that:

  • There should be specific mention of wild spaces and the potential loss of access to these for children in urban as well as rural areas.
  • Any replacement provision should be equivalent in quantity and accessibility to the play provision that is being replaced.
  • 12(f) protects children's outdoor play provision rather than the recreational value of parks and open spaces for all ages.

g) Open space, green space or play space on unused or under-used land

Comments included that not all spaces are suitable for development, for example because of safety or anti-social behaviour issues.

It was also noted that some sites may be vacant before future development takes place. A connected concern was that 12(g) could potentially result in applications being submitted by third parties for open spaces on under-used land, with the specific purpose of blocking certain developments.

There was a suggestion that the terms 'unused' and 'under-used' land should be defined.

h) Incorporating and enhancing green and blue infrastructure

There were concerns that 12(h) creates an expectation that the needs of all potential users should be met. It was suggested that flexibility and discretion will be needed, as it may not be possible to make all blue and green infrastructure accessible to all potential users. In particular, it was noted that brownfield sites may be more restricted in terms of space and may not meet be able to meet all the requirements set out.

Other suggestions included that the connections with wider green networks for people and wildlife would be strengthened if the objective of enhancing biodiversity was referenced directly.

An additional comment was that 12(h) and (i) imply that blue and green infrastructure and play/recreational space will always be provided on-site. However, it was suggested that it may be more appropriate to seek contributions to existing off-site facilities, as it is the quality rather than the quantity of open space that is important.

i) Good-quality provision for play, recreation and relaxation

There were suggestions for changes or additions to 12(i), including that:

  • 'Well-designed' and 'good quality provision' should be defined.
  • 12(i) should apply to all developments and that smaller developments are also important.
  • The creation, restoration and enhancement of wild places close to new developments, such as community woodlands, should be considered.

j) Good-quality provision for play, recreation and relaxation

Although some noted their support for 12(j), it was also suggested that providing examples of what is meant by good-quality provision would be helpful. It was also suggested that, with the potential for conflicting views between local authority planning and roads departments to be a challenge to new home building delivery, NPF4 could assist by providing proactive solutions.

It was also noted that new streets and public spaces should be founded on the principles of Designing Streets and inclusive design, instead of only incorporating these principles. A connected suggestion was that Designing Streets should be reviewed and updated as it is now over 10 years since its publication.

k) New, replacement or improved play provision

It was suggested that the wording of 12(k) could be open to interpretation and that is wording should be reviewed. Specific points included what is meant by example, 'stimulating environments' and 'inclusive' in this context?

Other comments or suggestions included that:

  • There should be guidance on the design of children's play spaces.
  • The replacement of play equipment does not usually require formal planning approval and would therefore be outwith the scope of planning decisions.
  • As it will not be adopted by local authorities, issues relating to the long-term maintenance and renewal of play equipment within private developments should be considered.

l) Effective management and maintenance plans

Comments about 12(l) were mainly concerned with its implementation. They included suggestions that wording such as 'maintenance' requires a clear definition and that:

  • Maintenance requirements and arrangements should be set out, including in terms of which organisation has responsibility.
  • Consideration should be given to funding, delivery, and long-term management of infrastructure.
  • Further guidance is needed on the specific requirements for developers to maintain blue and green infrastructure.
  • Development proposals should include a physical activity assessment to show how space will be used to optimise physical activity and sports opportunities, active living, and healthy lifestyles.

Other issues

Respondents also highlighted other issues that they wanted to see covered under Policy 12. For example, the importance of consulting and involving people using blue and green infrastructure and open spaces was highlighted, with specific points including that:

  • Children and young people should be consulted and involved in decision-making. They should be asked to help identify what they want and need from local play and sports spaces.
  • Communities, especially disabled people and others with specific access needs, should be involved in the design and development of green spaces.

Some respondents took the view that there was too much emphasis on play areas and facilities for children, and that Policy 12 should include reference to open space for all users and residents. An example given was to include adult uses for outdoor space, such as the provision of outdoor gyms.

A number of respondents commented on the health and wellbeing benefits of being in nature and the importance of semi-natural or wild spaces relative to simply open spaces. It was observed that there is no reference to wooded space or landscapes in Policy 12, and that there is an emphasis on play and sport rather than connecting with nature.

Other comments or suggestions included that Policy 12 should:

  • Avoid taking a blanket approach and should be applicable to a diverse range of places, for example urban high rise areas but also rural or suburban areas.
  • Acknowledge the difficulties of securing quality play areas in rural settlements where historic provision is poor, and there are a limited number of new developments coming forward to provide new facilities.
  • Be strengthened in relation to climate resilience and flood risk management, as the blue and green infrastructure on its own cannot deal with these challenges.
  • Require the biodiversity contribution of existing brownfield sites to be assessed as part of the application process. It was noted that the areas covered by the policy can have a high biodiversity value and provide an essential refuge for plants and wildlife.
  • Recognise that blue and green infrastructure can provide soundscape advantages and has the potential to reduce noise levels. However, it was also noted that the impact of noise generated must be carefully controlled.

Policy 13: Sustainable flood risk and water management

We want our places to be resilient to future flood risk and to make efficient and sustainable use of water resources.

Question 35 – Do you agree that this policy will help to ensure places are resilient to future flood risk and make efficient and sustainable use of water resources?

Around 255 respondents made a comment at Question 35.

While most respondents agreed with the overall ambition of developing transformative approaches to future flood risk, some were concerned about gaps in the policy or that a lack of definition and detail that could undermine its aims. In terms of this lack of detail, there was a view that more generic statements have replaced much of the detail formerly provided within SPP.

Other general concerns included that Policy 13 only addresses future development, whereas strategic, solution-based approaches are needed for areas already at risk of flooding. There was specific reference to existing urban areas. Other issues that respondents wanted to see covered included:

  • How Policy 13 links to SEPA guidance, including the SEPA position statement on new buildings in flood risk areas?
  • The statutory link between the flood risk management plans and LDPs, including by highlighting the importance of the former as part of the planning system. In related comments, respondents pointed out that there are no references to flood risk assessments or drainage impact statements despite these being considered to be key tools in assessing flood risk.
  • Settlements on the coast subject to coastal flood risk. It was suggested that these should be included under this policy rather than being referred to only in Policy 35 (Coasts). However, others were only looking for cross-referencing to Policy 35.

There was also a view that Policy 13 is overly focused on developments in urban and coastal areas and does not consider the potential of agricultural land in flood risk management solutions. It was suggested that knowledge of farms and the rivers and land surrounding them could be utilised to understand the key issues and identify workable solutions.

Suggestions for other points that could be referenced included:

  • Water conservation as part of water management, including rainwater harvesting, greywater recycling and water abstraction for non-domestic purposes.
  • Foul drainage, to ensure sewerage provision is strategically planned and maintained.
  • That Policy 13 sits alongside Policy 33 (Peat and carbon rich soils), since restoring these areas can help alleviate downstream flooding, as well as storing carbon.
  • The issue of land raising. However, there was also a view that a land raising approach should be avoided.
  • How SuDS and other measures contribute to broader strategic goals, such as LBAPs.
  • That Building Standards have a role to play in terms of ensuring the use of flood resilient construction techniques.

Other general comments included that further evidence is required to demonstrate how effective specific flood prevention measures are in reducing the impact and financial costs. It was suggested that this will give homeowners, business owners and insurers the confidence that installing specific measures will be worthwhile.

Respondents also highlighted a number of issues relating to the role of biodiversity and nature-based solutions, including that:

  • There could be greater recognition of the climate change agenda, with Policy 13 building on strategic links to the 26th UN Climate Change Conference (COP26), climate change and nature-based solutions.
  • When designing natural flood management systems, early consideration should be given to how they can contribute to broader aims, including local biodiversity plan priorities. Nature-based solutions for managing issues such as air quality and flooding should be the norm. 'Hard' defences should be the last line of defence.
  • Upstream land use and development can prevent flooding from becoming an issue. For example, including long-term (retention) woodland creation in upstream riparian zones, allowing wetlands to be wet instead of draining.
  • Green roofs should be included as a drainage solution, as they slow the flow of water to the sewerage system, insulate buildings and support policies on green infrastructure.

Finally in terms of general themes, some respondents commented that planning services will need to be resourced, including having staff with specialist skills, to ensure that technical reports, such as drainage impact assessments and flood risk assessments, can be assessed.

a) Strengthening community resilience to the impacts of climate change

Although the emphasis on strengthening community resilience was welcome, it was suggested that the meaning of phrases such as 'development proposals' and 'community resilience' are unclear.

It was noted that the policy promotes the use of natural flood management but that there is no further detail. Queries included whether the approach is expected to be part of a more comprehensive promotion of re-wilding and biodiversity improvements, along with how it would be resourced.

It was suggested that 13(a) should also cover flood risk management plans, river basin management plans, and strategic flood risk assessments.

b) Development proposals and Future Functional Floodplain

A general observation was that the term 'Future Functional Floodplain' needs to be defined.

There were concerns about whether this protection standard is achievable, and some respondents felt that the policy is overly restrictive. Some respondents reported that the application of the Future Functional Floodplain would significantly reduce the land available for development. The associated concern was that applications will be refused as not meeting future flood risk requirements. There was a call for some flexibility and leeway in terms of how 13(b) would apply to local contexts.

There were also concerns that particular floors of some developments may not be used because of the potential for flooding, and that this could result in 'dead' frontages. It was suggested that the requirement for any utilised floor to be above the future flood level, plus an allowance for freeboard, should be restricted to the most vulnerable uses, with the least vulnerable uses being allowed below this level.

c) Small scale extensions and alterations to existing buildings

There was a call for clarification on what is meant by both 'small scale' and 'significant effect'. It was also suggested that the method by which a planning authority or developer could demonstrate compliance is not clear.

There was also a call for 13(c) to address the impact of urban creep. There was specific reference to impermeable hardstanding in private gardens and it was suggested that it can create drainage issues in adjacent roads and gardens and can increase flood risk.

d) Most vulnerable and civil infrastructure

It was noted that there is no definition of 'most vulnerable' or 'civil infrastructure' and that what is meant by 'additional measures' also needs to be explained. In terms of these 'additional measures', there were also queries relating to how a planning authority or developer will demonstrate compliance?

It was also suggested that 13(d) is no longer required, as a new area of avoidance is proposed as the future floodplain.

e) Instances where development proposals should not be supported

Some respondents commented that they were unsure what 13(e) means in practical terms. It was suggested that it reads as if developments cannot increase discharge into the public sewer network, but that this would be unreasonable. It was also suggested that further consideration is given to the acceptability of surface water connections to the public wastewater network in limited, exceptional circumstances.

There was a concern that local authorities do not always have the expertise to assess and comment on the risks relating to 13(e) and that this could mean that mitigation may not be as robust as it should be.

f) Avoiding increased surface water flooding

Comments on 13(f) often related to SuDS and included suggestions that:

  • To manage drainage and water quality, development proposals should be required to integrate well-designed and naturalised SuDS features.
  • It is not clear how SuDS will be used to maximise positive effects for biodiversity, for example, by identifying the best species and long-term management for each site.
  • A requirement for a fully costed maintenance plan to be provided with any SuDS proposed for new development should be included in the policy.

Some respondents also noted that 13(f) refers to minimising the area of the impermeable surface but that this is not enforceable.

g) Connection to public water mains

Comments and concerns about 13(g) were primarily focused on its potential impact in rural areas. They included that it potentially creates restrictions in rural areas where connections to the public water network are either unavailable or prohibitively expensive. Some respondents observed that there is no robust policy compelling development to connect to the mains network, and that this will require to be looked at on a case-by-case basis. Other comments included that:

  • In times of drought, the responsibility would fall to the local authority to pay for and supply water if a development was not connected to the mains.
  • Including SEPA's groundwater abstraction guidelines for private water would be helpful.

h) Natural flood risk management and blue-green infrastructure

It was suggested that 13(h) should be linked more clearly to Policy 12 (Blue and green infrastructure, play and sport), recognising that naturalised and accessible design is critical to delivering environmental and social benefits and that natural flood prevention can provide more comprehensive benefits in terms of the nature crisis, habitat creation, high-quality places and green spaces.

Policies 14 and 15: Health, wellbeing and safety

We want places to support health, wellbeing and safety for all, and to strengthen the resilience of communities.

Question 36 – Do you agree that this policy will ensure places support health, wellbeing and safety, and strengthen the resilience of communities?

Policy 14 Health and wellbeing

There was support for health and wellbeing being part of the planning process, and an appreciation that the planning system could do more to support healthier places and tackle health inequalities. Most of those commenting were in broad agreement with the aims of the policy, while at the same time having a number of detailed suggestions about how the policy could be clarified or amended.

A number of respondents commented that it should be stated explicitly that development proposals that will be detrimental to active lifestyles, health and wellbeing will not be supported. Others observed that the policy seeks to tackle such complex, cross-sectoral issues that it might be better as one of the NPF4 Universal policies, making it an overarching policy principle for all development.

In terms of cross-sectoral issues, it was noted that the implementation of Policy 14 will require planning services to work closely with the Health and Social Care Partnerships to deliver health and social care infrastructure. It was suggested that health and social care assessments will be required to evaluate the needs of the population locally, and that these should have a particular focus on the needs of older and vulnerable people.

It was also suggested that Policy 14 should be cross-referenced to a number of others, including Policy 6 (Design, quality and place), Policy 7 (Local living), Policy 9 (Quality homes), Policy 12 (Blue and green infrastructure, play and sport), Policy 18 (Culture and creativity), and Policy 32 (Natural places).

Other comments focused on additional issues that respondents wished to see covered by the policy. These included:

  • The Place Principle and its role in engaging communities in decision-making and planning. It was suggested that this approach can have a positive impact on individual and community resilience.
  • Consideration of the health of the natural environment, recognising the role nature plays in wellbeing.
  • Specific reference to mental health, including its relationship to the environment and active health.
  • Recognition that engaging with arts and cultural activities has positive effects on health and wellbeing.
  • The creation of a healthier food environment, including access to affordable healthy food. Some saw this as a significant omission from the policy, with food described as a key factor to health and wellbeing.

A number of respondents commented that good quality housing is central to physical and mental health. In particular, it was noted that for many older or disabled people, safe and accessible homes can help reduce falls, enhance the quality of life and enable people to continue to be part of their community. A related view was that the pandemic has shown the importance of the local community to wellbeing. There was reference to connected places and communities, with good transport links and access to public services being vital for the wellbeing of local residents.

a) Vibrant, healthier and safe places/tackling health inequalities

While the ambition to tackle inequality was welcomed, some respondents felt that clarity and direction were needed on the expectations, duties and responsibilities being placed on planning authorities. It was again noted that a cross-sectoral approach will be required to successfully deliver this policy.

There were a number of suggested changes, including:

  • Adding clear definitions, with an explanation of what is meant by 'infrastructure' being the most frequently requested. The meaning of the phrase 'significant adverse health effects' was also queried, and there was a call for more detail about how this will be assessed.
  • Referencing the Place and Wellbeing outcomes developed by the National Place and Wellbeing Collaborative.
  • Placing more emphasis on the importance of healthcare facilities and infrastructure. However, there was also a view that it is important to acknowledge that good health and wellbeing are about much more than the provision of NHS facilities.

Other respondents felt that the policy should address the role of green and blue infrastructure in creating healthier places and reducing health inequalities. A related comment was that it could be expanded to include a requirement for development proposals to show how their design would enhance access to the natural environment and green spaces.

b) Avoiding adverse health effects

Most of the comments on 14(b) related to the proposal for a Health Impact Assessment (HIA) for certain categories of development. A number of respondents felt that the intention is not clear, including in terms of what an HIA is and what would constitute a 'significant adverse health impact'? There were also questions about whether this is an appropriate issue for planning authorities to consider.

A number of respondents were looking for further guidance on HIAs, including to ensure that a consistent approach is taken between areas. An associated concern was that if planning authorities do not have the resources and skills needed, this could lead to delays at the planning application stage.

Other comments addressed when an HIA should be required and included that:

  • They should be required for all development proposals, the rationale being that this could make a significant difference in creating more inclusive communities and to avoid exacerbating inequality.
  • In contrast, that applying a blanket requirement to produce an HIA seems disproportionate and, potentially unlawful. There was a call for case-by-case decisions, with planning authorities setting their own thresholds.

Respondents also highlighted the need for planning authorities, working with Health and Social Care partnerships, to ensure that there is an appropriate level of health provision for those moving into new housing developments. It was reported that considerable investment in health and social care facilities can be required in order to support growing and ageing populations.

Other issues raised about HIAs included that:

  • There is a lack of clarity on the circumstances where the requirement for an HIA would apply to smaller developments, below 50 homes.
  • It was not clear if both physical and mental health are to be included.
  • There should be an explanation of the relationship between HIAs and EIAs.

c) Air quality

Although those commenting tended to agree that development proposals that would have a significant adverse impact on air quality should not be supported, there were also comments about how the proposed approach could be changed or clarified.

These included that it would be helpful to define 'significant adverse effects on air quality' and also to explain:

  • Who would make any determination?
  • How a planning authority or developer would demonstrate compliance?

Respondents also observed that 14(c) does not require air quality assessments to be undertaken. There was also reference to ensuring that cumulative impacts are considered as part of the assessment process.

In terms of particular issues that need to be considered or addressed at 14(c), including because they can have a detrimental effect on good air quality, respondents highlighted:

  • Biomass power stations. There was reference to the health and air quality impacts of wood-burning.
  • Domestic retrofit installations of heating and cooking systems, such as the installation of log burners.
  • Incinerators.
  • Mineral extraction, due to air quality and safety concerns during operations and including the use of explosives.

Final observations included that 14(c) as currently set out is not consistent with the provisions of Cleaner Air for Scotland 2. There were also suggestions that air quality should form a standalone policy.

d) Noise

Respondents sought a definition of 'unacceptable levels of noise', and clarity on who would make a determination and how a planning authority or developer could demonstrate compliance. Other comments and suggestions included that:

  • The terminology used in 14(d) should be consistent with that of PAN 1/2011.
  • A flexible approach may be required around vacant and derelict land. It was noted that these sites are often close to noise emitters such as railway lines and roads.
  • The policy should specifically reference wind farm planning applications and state that noise assessments for wind farm developments should be carried out using The Assessment and Rating of Noise from Wind Farms (ETSU-R-97).
  • Where areas already have unacceptable noise levels it may not be possible to mitigate their adverse effects. It was suggested that the Agent of Change principle should be referred to.
  • Other amenity issues such as smell, vibration and light pollution could be included.

There were also some concerns that 14(d) could conflict with others. For example, it was noted that sports pitches create additional noise, and it was suggested that planning authorities should be able to apply balance and weight to noise-related considerations.

e) Local community food growing/allotments

The inclusion of a policy supporting developments that would allow for community food growing and allotments was welcomed. Associated comments included that the approach could help support habitat restoration, as well as complement efforts to improve health and wellbeing.

Comments of the scope of 14(b) included that it should make community food growing a requirement in certain developments. Associated suggestions included that:

  • 14(b) needs to set a threshold for when food growing, or allotments, must be provided.
  • All development proposals over a certain size (50 households) must include a statutory space for food growing that can then be shaped and developed by the community to suit their growing needs.

Another issue raised was that, as currently worded, 14(b) could suggest that any development proposal that includes allotments would be supported, irrespective of other material considerations. It was suggested that the policy should be reworded to prevent it from being used as a loophole for inappropriately sited development.

Policy 15 - Safety

There were a number of specific comments in relation to development proposals in the vicinity of major accident hazard sites. It was observed that an explanation of the phrase 'applications regarding the presence of hazardous substances' is required, alongside guidance on the relative weight and considerations a planning authority or developer should apply to demonstrate compliance with the policy.

Other comments on Policy 15 included that it is not a general policy on safety but relates to specific land uses and hazards of those uses. It was suggested, therefore, that it might be better placed in policies that cover relevant business and/or infrastructure issues.

There were also a number of issues about which clarity was sought, including the meaning of 'in the vicinity of a major incident hazard site' and 'other things, where not covered by the Health and Safety Executive'. Respondents also highlighted other issues they wanted to see clarified or covered, including:

  • Beyond the Health and Safety Executive and the Office of Nuclear Regulation, who are the 'additional consultees' expected to be?
  • There should be reference to the Health and Safety Executive's land use planning methodology and decision matrix.
  • The policy should include reference to the safeguarding of major accident hazard pipelines.

It was also suggested that it would be helpful to include more detail on the factors to be considered in assessing any application, such as the increase in numbers of people exposed to risk, regeneration and economic benefits, the existing permitted use of the site or buildings, and the impact on industrial sites and pipelines. It was suggested that for hazardous substance consent, factors to be considered should include the siting and methods of storage, the quantity and type of materials, and constraints that may be placed on future development.

In relation to types of development, it was suggested that developments that are not major accident sites and are not covered by SEPA consent or licensing agreements, but which do involve high electrical energy or the potential for large-scale fires, should be included. In particular, it was suggested that fire risk assessment, emergency fire response, fire detection and fire control, and shutdown measures should be specified before developments are approved.



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