Places, people and planning: update on proposal 3

Update on actions relating to proposal 3: Improving national spatial planning and policy.

Proposal 3: Improving national spatial planning and policy

We believe that the National Planning Framework (NPF) and Scottish Planning Policy (SPP) can be developed further to better reflect national and regional priorities and to make local development planning simpler.

Why we are making a change

To ensure NPF is prepared collaboratively, to address long term city-region development and infrastructure issues more fully and effectively. We also want the SPP to have statutory status so that local development plans can be more focussed on places relevant to their communities. .

What we are doing

  • Propose that NPF and SPP are combined and have a statutory status in decision making on planning applications. We will also make changes to how they are prepared.
  • We will work with stakeholders to design and take forward a collaborative process for preparing NPF4.
  • In the meantime work on monitoring National Planning Framework 3 continues.


Given that the scope of the NPF in a new system is unlikely to be finalised ahead of the primary legislation, Scottish Ministers do not expect to adopt the next version, NPF4, within 5 years of NPF3 being produced (by June 2019).

How we will deliver change

  • primary legislation – The Planning Bill combines the NPF and SPP and gives the new NPF statutory status
  • secondary legislation – no
  • Guidance – no
  • non-legislative action – yes

Next steps

We will issue a fuller, collaborative programme for preparing NPF4 in due course, but currently expect its preparation to commence in 2018 with a view to adoption in 2020, and for the Scottish Planning Policy to be reviewed as part of this. A participation statement will reflect methods for engaging with people, including measures to actively engage children and young people in the development of the policies.



Telephone: 0131 244 7059

Area 2-H (South)
Planning and Architecture Division
The Scottish Government
Victoria Quay

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