National Planning Framework 4: explanatory report

This explanatory report accompanies our National Planning Framework 4 revised draft. It provides a summary of the representations made through our consultation on Draft National Planning Framework 4 and sets out the changes made in response to those reviews.

Changes to Draft NPF4

Summary of Changes in Revised Version

Figure 1: Summary of Changes in Revised Version
Draft Revised version
PART 1 National Spatial Strategy for Scotland 2045 Stronger overview and narrative.
Focus on outcomes now upfront with clear integration on how these will be achieved through policies, the spatial strategy and National Developments.
4 themes (Sustainable, Liveable, Productive and Distinctive Places) 3 revised themes: sustainable, liveable, productive. Distinctive Places now incorporated into the other 3 themes which more closely reflects the 3 pillars of sustainable development: environment, social and economy. (See Figure 2)
Spatial Principles Reordered and adjusted
  • Tightened up explanations and cross referencing more explicit throughout
  • Moved from 'balanced development' to 'rebalanced' development
  • Emphasised that compact growth is particularly relevant to urban areas
  • Reflected the importance of rural development alongside this.
Action Areas Action Areas – refined, focus on context, challenges and delivery (Detail goes to Revised NPF4 Annex C).
  • refocused as regional spatial priorities
  • focus on context, challenges, priorities and delivery
  • clearer direction on the distinct challenges facing rural and island communities
  • moved detail to annex
  • taken on board detailed comments and additions
Updated mapping
  • Removed spatial strategy map and action areas schematic
  • Replaced with spatial strategy map based on strategies from 5 action areas.
Referencing of key SG plans, programmes and strategies and use of schematic (See Table 1 in Revised NPF4) to illustrate how the different elements of NPF4 come together at different scales. Clear links and referencing shown between NPF4 and other key SG plans, programmes and national strategies.
PART 2 National Developments (NDs) 18 National Developments including statements of need
  • No change to the number of National Developments, but refinements have been made, including adjustments to the description and classes (including occasional removal or addition of classes). The refinements have not altered the overall findings of the lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions assessment.
  • National developments have been reordered and renumbered under the 3 themes (see Figure 3).
  • National development summaries have now been embedded within the spatial strategy, with the statements of need moved to Revised NPF4 Annex B.
  • Numbering and amendments for clarity are reflected on the revised National Developments map. Smaller maps for some of the National Developments have been revised for consistency.
PART 3 National Planning Policy Universal Policies Removal of Universal Policies and priority focus moved to the climate emergency and nature crisis. Intent of draft universal policies retained but reordered or re-presented across the document.
4 themes Reordered under the 3 themes (see Figure 4). Policies restructured and policy intent, policy outcomes and links to relevant spatial principles and other policies are now clearly set out. Detailed policy amendments in response to representations/ evidence (see Part 3).
Language Use of 'should' Work on language, certainty and clarity, internal consistency of wording/policy approach. Changed to consistent use of: 'will be supported'/ 'will only be supported'/'will not be supported'. Further advice added to the Revised NPF4 'How to Use this Document', Annex A.
PART 4 Delivering Our Spatial Strategy Outline provided of how we will deliver NPF4 Publication of a standalone Delivery Programme. The Delivery Programme will be updated throughout lifespan of NPF4 (see Part 4).
PART 5 Annexes 3 Annexes 6 Annexes:
  • Removal of outcomes annex. Detail supplemented and moved within main text.
  • New Revised NPF4 Annex B covering National Development Statements of Need (previously within main body of text).
  • New Revised NPF4 Annex C covering the detail of the Spatial Strategy action areas (previously within main body of text).
  • New Revised NPF4 Annex D covering Six qualities of Place (previously within main body of text) .
  • New Revised NPF4 Annex A covering 'How to Use this Document'. (Text supplemented with additional narrative including how NPF links to other plans).
  • Updates to Annexes on Housing numbers (Revised NPF4 Annex E) and Glossary of definitions. (Revised NPF4 Annex F)
  • New Revised NPF4 Annex G on Acronyms



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