National Planning Framework 3

The third National Planning Framework, setting out a long-term vision for development and investment across Scotland over the next 20 to 30 years.

Ministerial Foreword

Derek Mackay MSP

The central purpose of the Scottish Government is to make Scotland a more successful country, with opportunities for all to flourish through increasing sustainable economic growth.

This, Scotland's Third National Planning Framework - NPF3 - is the spatial expression of the Government Economic Strategy, and of our plans for infrastructure investment. It is about our ambition to create great places that support sustainable economic growth across the country.

NPF3 is a strategy for all of Scotland - championing our most successful places and supporting change in areas where, in the past, there has been a legacy of decline. It builds on the success of our city regions and will help to transform our towns. It highlights opportunities for rural development that will strengthen our communities. And it sets out an ambitious agenda to secure investment in the unique assets of our coast and our islands.

NPF3 brings together our plans and strategies in economic development, regeneration, energy, environment, climate change, transport and digital infrastructure to provide a coherent vision of how Scotland should evolve over the next 20 to 30 years. In turn, this vision will help to inform our future policies and prioritise investment decisions.

I am grateful to the many people, communities and organisations and the Scottish Parliament, who have shared their views and ideas to inform the development of NPF3. We now have an opportunity to build on this shared sense of ownership to shape the delivery of our national spatial plan. All local authorities are required to reflect our national planning policy within their strategic and local development plans. In turn, I expect development plans to form an integral part of local community planning alongside place-based Single Outcome Agreements, supporting public sector bodies to work together, and with communities, to make a real difference to local places and people's lives.

A planning system that provides clarity and confidence to developers and communities is vitally important to Scotland. Together with the Scottish Planning Policy, NPF3 provides a clear national vision of what is expected of the planning system and the outcomes that it must deliver for the people of Scotland. Whilst some of these outcomes will only be realised in the long-term, there is much that can be achieved within the five year lifespan on NPF3. I urge all those with an interest in planning in Scotland to work together now to drive forward our ambition and deliver real and positive change on the ground.

Derek Mackay MSP - signature

Derek Mackay MSP
Minister for Local Government and Planning

Planning in Scotland

Scottish Planning Policy is Scottish Government policy on how nationally important land use planning matters should be addressed across the country. As a statement of Ministers' priorities, we expect it to carry significant weight in the preparation of development plans and to be a material consideration in planning decisions.

The National Planning Framework ( NPF) is a long-term strategy for Scotland. It is the spatial expression of the Government Economic Strategy, and of our plans for development and investment in infrastructure. NPF identifies national developments and other strategically important development opportunities in Scotland. It is accompanied by an Action Programme which identifies how we expect it to be implemented, by whom, and when.

Statutory development plans must have regard to the NPF, and Scottish Ministers expect planning decisions to support its delivery. The forthcoming National and Regional Marine Plans should also be taken into account where relevant. NPF3 informs development and investment decisions of the Scottish Government, its agencies, planning authorities, private investors and other bodies.

Statutory land use planning also has a key to play as part of community planning partnerships - NPF3 should be considered by local authorities as they work with community planning partners to take forward their Single Outcome Agreement as a binding plan for place.

Together, NPF and SPP, applied at the national, strategic and local levels, will help the planning system to deliver our vision and outcomes for Scotland, and will contribute to the Scottish Government's central purpose.

Supporting information, including the accompanying environmental, business and equalities assessments, consultation responses and our analysis of proposals for national development status in NPF3, is available on our website at:


Email: Dr Fiona Simpson

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