National Planning Framework 3: monitoring report

Progress of the 30 key actions and 14 national developments listed in the third National Planning Framework.

1. Introduction

Scotland’s National Planning Framework sets out a spatial strategy to guide future development and land use over the next 20 to 30 years. National Planning Framework 3 (NPF3)[1], our current strategy, was published in 2014, following extensive public engagement and full scrutiny by the Scottish Parliament. It aims to make Scotland: 

  • a successful, sustainable place “We have a growing low carbon economy which provides opportunities that are more fairly distributed between, and within, all our communities. We live in high quality, vibrant and sustainable places with enough, good quality homes. Our living environments foster better health and we have reduced spatial inequalities in wellbeing. There is a fair distribution of opportunities in cities, towns and rural areas, reflecting the diversity and strengths of our unique people and places.”
  • a low carbon place “We have seized the opportunities arising from our ambition to be a world leader in low carbon energy generation, both onshore and offshore. Our built environment is more energy efficient and produces less waste and we have largely decarbonised our travel.”
  • natural, resilient place “Natural and cultural assets are respected, they are improving in condition and represent a sustainable economic, environmental and social resource for the nation. Our environment and infrastructure have become more resilient to the impacts of climate change.”
  • a connected place “The whole country has access to high-speed fixed and mobile digital networks. We make better use of our existing infrastructure, and have improved internal and international transport links to facilitate our ambition for growth and our commitment to an inclusive society.”

Cover Example

To deliver these outcomes, the spatial strategy aims to build on and enhance the unique assets of Scotland’s city-regions, rural areas, coast and islands. The approach seeks to narrow disparities in well-being and opportunity and reduce regional inequality. It also reflects the need to respect and enhance the quality of environment, place and life which makes Scotland a special place. 

Evidence base

The National Planning Framework 3 is a long-term strategy which includes aspirational proposals as well as investment-ready projects. Progress towards delivery of its various actions and developments has varied over the five years since its adoption. Some of the actions have been completed, while some infrastructure projects have not yet come forward but remain consistent with our policy aims. Other priorities have shifted and new challenges have emerged.

Since 2014, we have maintained an online Action Programme for National Planning Framework 3[2]. Focusing on the strategy’s 4 key themes, 30 key actions and 14 national developments, it has been regularly updated to reflect progress towards delivery. This report uses the Action Programme information to summarise progress towards delivering the outcomes identified in the National Planning Framework 3. In addition, broader social, economic and environmental information and policy help to explain the changing context over the last five years. National outcomes and national spatial planning indicators[3] have been referred to where appropriate. Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) monitoring information has also helped to inform the content of this report. The information provided in this report was largely gathered in 2018 and through the winter of 2018-2019.



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