National Planning Framework 4

National Planning Framework 4 (NPF4) is our national spatial strategy for Scotland. It sets out our spatial principles, regional priorities, national developments and national planning policy. It should be read as a whole and replaces NPF3 and Scottish Planning Policy.

Ministerial Foreword

Tom Arthur MSP, Minister for Public Finance, Planning and Community Wealth

I am delighted to publish Scotland’s fourth National Planning Framework. I am proud that, for the first time, we have brought together our long-term spatial strategy with a comprehensive set of national planning policies to form part of the statutory development plan.

The world is changing, and so are Scotland’s places. This strategy sets out how we will work together in the coming years to improve people’s lives by making sustainable, liveable and productive places. This will play a key role in delivering on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, as well as our national outcomes.

Planning carries great responsibility – decisions about development will impact on generations to come. Putting the twin global climate and nature crises at the heart of our vision for a future Scotland will ensure the decisions we make today will be in the long-term interest of our country.

As we recover from the pandemic we are working towards achieving net zero in a way which also tackles longstanding challenges and inequalities. We live in challenging times, but better places will be an important part of our response to our strategic priorities of net zero, child poverty and a wellbeing economy. Planning will also play a critical role in delivering the National Strategy for Economic Transformation and in community wealth building.

Planning is already a fully devolved function of the Scottish Government. Our global reputation for excellence and expertise in this field demonstrates what can be achieved when the choices are in our own hands. We can build on this. By securing a new future for Scotland as an independent country, additional powers will be available to support public and private sector investment in development and infrastructure across our country.

Changes to our places will not always be easy. People care about their neighbourhoods and rightly and reasonably expect that new development should improve their lives, rather than undermining what they value most. To help deliver on this strategy I am committed to involving a wider range of people in planning. A fairer and more inclusive planning system will ensure that everyone has an opportunity to shape their future so that our places work for all of us. I also recognise that planning authorities across Scotland will need support and guidance to put our proposals and policies into practice, and will continue to work with the profession and local government to ensure our system can realise its full potential.

The process for preparing this strategy has shown what can be achieved when we work together. I greatly appreciate the ideas that people and organisations have contributed. I am also very grateful to the Scottish Parliament for the time and energy they have put into their scrutiny of the draft document. National Planning Framework 4 has benefited considerably from their thoughtful and constructive input.



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