Planning and Architecture Division business plan 2019-2020

The Planning and Architecture Division business plan for 2019 to 2020.

Who we are and what we do

Planning and Architecture Division (PAD) currently support the portfolios of Communities and Local Government (reporting principally to the Minister for Local Government, Housing and Planning), as well as the Cabinet Secretaries for Local Government and Communities, Culture, Tourism and External Affairs, and Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform (on strategic environmental assessment). PAD provides core funding to the Non Departmental Public Body, Architecture and Design Scotland (A&DS), and the charity PAS (formerly Planning Aid Scotland) who work with communities across Scotland to support engagement in the planning system and place making. We work across Government and with a wide range of partners and stakeholders in delivering outcomes on planning and place. Our work helps deliver all of Scotland’s National Outcomes.  See Appendix 1.

Our vision

We want to deliver a world class planning system that is an active facilitator of wellbeing, sustainable and inclusive growth, creating quality places with the housing, infrastructure and investment that people need.

Delivering our priorities

Following the passage of the Planning (Scotland) Bill in Parliament, Planning (Scotland) Act 2019 received Royal Assent on 25 July. Our programme of reform will now move into delivery phase. Transforming Planning in Practice will implement the aspirations of the new Planning Act and wider reform programme by simplifying the system, supporting sustainable and inclusive growth, providing confidence for investors and communities. This programme will make a significant contribution to the delivery of Scotland’s Economic Strategy by helping to make the most of our natural resources, tackling the significant differences in the lived experiences of people and communities and promoting a positive long term effect on our well-being.

Transforming planning in practice

These reforms will play an important role in helping delivering on all outcomes of Scotland’s National Performance Framework  and four key cross-cutting priorities - tackling climate change and building sustainable and inclusive growth, improving wellbeing and reducing child poverty. Our programme will be delivered through the following workstreams:

  • Developing  Scotland’s Fourth National Planning Framework (NPF4), incorporating Scottish Planning Policy (SPP) in a collaborative way. NPF4 will set out Scotland’s long term planning response to the global climate emergency. This will be aligned with wider infrastructure investment programmes and will actively steer future prioritisation of resources and investment bringing into focus the spatial dimensions of inclusive growth, informing priorities and building consensus on place based outcomes to deliver long term sustainable development (until 2050). 
  • Transforming Digital Planning services by making better use of digital technology and platforms which support adoption of a place based approach. This aims to make planning more accessible, easy to understand and engaging for everyone; developing shared platforms based upon future proofed technology to support streamlined processes, helping to drive efficiencies which will underpin future innovation; and creating a data driven, open and smart planning system, which exploits emerging technologies. We will publish the Digital Strategy for Planning and a programme of priority actions to deliver this transformation. 
  • Developing secondary legislation, advice and guidance to bring the Planning (Scotland) Act 2019 into effect, simplifying, streamlining and clarifying procedures so that planners can focus their efforts on adding value to places and people rather than process. We will publish a work programme which will include a phased programme of extending permitted development rights to make it easier to deliver developments which support Ministerial priorities such as encouraging sustainable development, supporting rural communities and responding to the climate emergency. 
  • Developing a programme of work to explore how we can more effectively capture land value uplifts, fund enabling infrastructure and deliver development which creates high quality, inclusive sustainable places and optimises the use of Scotland’s land assets. This includes working with the Infrastructure Delivery Group and preparing for a longer term programme to implement the infrastructure levy provisions of the Planning Act. 
  • Undertaking a new 3 year Place programme which will help the implementation of the Place Principle, reinforcing Ministers commitment for place-based working to help transform outcomes for communities, particularly in areas of disadvantage and inequality. We will also encourage the involvement of children and young people in shaping the future of their places, helping to address issues such as social isolation and wellbeing. We aim to develop strategic connections across Ministerial priorities such as Scotland’s Public Health Priorities, our response to the global climate emergency and eradicating child poverty.  

Statutory commitments

We will continue to lead the delivery of Scottish Ministers’ statutory responsibilities and policies for the operation of the Planning system and development and use of land including:

  • Delivering efficient and effective decisions on Planning & Historic Environment casework.
  • Supporting Ministerial consideration of development plans.
  • Undertaking cost-effective in-house Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) to support development of qualifying government plans programmes and strategies.
  • Sponsorship and governance of Architecture & Design Scotland (A&DS), to promote the benefit and value of good architecture and well-designed places.

Wider Programme for Government commitments

We will continue to contribute to the implementation of wider Programme for Government commitments by providing Planning and other specialist support to help:

  • Ensure the National Planning Framework does all it can to support the objectives of net zero emissions by 2045 and sustainable and inclusive growth.
  • Align planning reform with the inclusive growth, the economic action plan and ongoing support for regional economic partnerships
  • Increase the number of homes across Scotland so that everyone has a good quality home that they can afford and that meets their needs. This includes supporting policy development exploring how our homes communities and places should look and feel in 2040 and how we might get there, aligning this with NPF4 and policy development including setting targets for the use of land for housing and supporting delivery.
  • Supporting Scotland’s ‘Green New Deal’ by aligning with infrastructure investment including the Infrastructure Investment Plan and contributing to the National Transport Strategy and Strategic Transport Projects Review (STPR2) as well as aligning planning with active and low carbon travel options
  • Develop the potential of rural communities and our rural economy including supporting ‘a working countryside’ helping to sustain them in the long term
  • Supporting fisheries and aquaculture including improving advice and guidance on fish farming developments
  • Supporting cross-government work in preparation for EU exit and take forward any consequential work arising from the Brexit process (e.g. environmental assessment regulation, Hazardous Substances Planning and mutual recognition of architecture profession)
  • Supporting the Ministerial working group on Gypsy / Travellers.

Other Ministerial commitments

We will also deliver a wider range of other Ministerial commitments including:

  • Maintaining a high quality and innovative front line digital public service through the provision of the eDevelopment portal and support desk, delivering a more efficient and cost effective service for applicants and local authorities
  • Continuing to work with transport, enterprise and other policy areas to co-ordinate strategic planning including through the collaborative development of draft guidance on regional spatial strategies.
  • Promoting excellence in Scottish Planning, Design and Architecture by hosting and contributing to events and awards such as:
    •    Scottish Awards for Quality in Planning - celebrating achievements in planning and promote and raising the profile of good practice
    •    RIAS Doolan Award - to promote and celebrate the best standards of design in Scotland
    •    Saltire Awards - celebrate innovation and excellence in Scottish house building and placemaking
    •    Scottish Civic Trust My Place Awards to promote and celebrate the contribution people can make to the regeneration of their places
    •    Sponsorship of RTPI Young Planners Conference.  This demonstrates Ministers continued support for the activities of young planners working and studying in Scotland
    •    Student Design to help develop placemaking skills
  • Core funding and governance of the charity PAS, who provide a unique advisory and support service for communities, seldom heard groups and young people across Scotland to support participation in Planning and place-making.
  • Promotion of Scotland on the world stage including providing support for Scotland’s participation in the 2020 Venice Architecture Biennale

We will review our Business Plan priorities throughout the year, monitoring progress via our Work Plan including reporting progress in an in year review and annual report.

Staffing and resourcing

The Division has a combination of professional, technical, and general staff with a current Full Time Equivalent of 62 Permanent or Fixed Term Appointments. We also engage a number of contractors to provide additional specialist support. We are organised into five teams: 

  • Chief Planner team are responsible for co-ordinating our work programmes, communications and engagement and Business management services,
  • Architecture and Place are responsible for sponsorship of Architecture & Design Scotland, Place-making and Planning input on Housing delivery
  • Digital Planning are responsible for the operation of the existing online Digital Planning shared service, supporting the Digital Task Force established to provide strategic-level direction on how best to create a world class digital planning service, and delivering an ambitious programme of service expansion
  • Planning Performance are responsible for Planning legislation and development management, Ministerial casework, a brokerage role for some key developments, Infrastructure, land value capture, planning performance and elements of development management, including planning agreements
  • Spatial Planning and Environment are responsible for Scotland’s National Planning Framework and the Scottish Planning Policy, Development Planning, environment and natural resources, and technical support for environmental assessment   

The 2018-19 Budget Bill allocated £6,000,000 to Planning Development. This includes Total Operating Costs (TOC) of £4,320, 000 for staff, and other running costs of which £1,162,000 is Corporate Re-Charge.  An additional £500,000 of Capital funding has initially been allocated to support the expansion of Digital Planning services. 

In addition, the Division also sponsor the NDPB Architecture and Design Scotland who promote the benefit and value of good architecture and well-designed places.  £1,390,000 has been allocated to meet their core costs Workforce Plan is mainly funded through TOC, although some staff costs in our Digital Planning Team are charged to our capital budget for those posts engaged in IT development work. 

How we work

We will continue to act as an exemplar of Scottish Government’s SG2020 Vision through:

  • Openness –being clear about our role and our expectations, accessible and engaged, and valuing diversity. We will be open and collaborate effectively with our own people, wider Scottish Government and all others who have an interest in improving Scotland’s places. Our communications are opportunities to engage and inform, and enabling involvement empowering constructive participation.  This will help us understand the risks and opportunities and in turn make the right decisions
  • Capability – demonstrating leadership and competence, providing a first class service to Ministers and communities and being accountable for what we do. We will demonstrate positive leadership and consistent managerial behaviour which supports our people while developing and empowering successful individuals
  • Responsive – being ambitious, focusing on priorities, working flexibly and innovatively, and creating the conditions to maximise the impact of our work. We will work across teams, matching resources to priorities and ensure we have the right people doing the right work at the right time, maximising our impact.

We are committed to fostering a culture  which helps make our workplace a place where our people want to be.  We will promote fairness, wellbeing, and help our people to thrive and succeed in alignment with the People Strategy.   

While we will continue to work flexibly and creatively across the Scottish Government to support collaboration and sharing of resources across business areas, our people and resources will be focused on our key business priorities. Any work undertaken outside these key priorities will be cleared in advance by the Chief Planner to ensure that we continue to provide high quality but proportionate support for wider Scottish Government priorities.  

Appendix 1

How our Work delivers Scotland’s National Outcomes

We have a globally competitive, entrepreneurial, inclusive and sustainable economy


Planning plays a key role in supporting the economy and attracting investment, by creating confidence and certainty for the development sector.  NPF4 will capitalise on opportunities for alignment with ongoing work on infrastructure, including the new Scottish National Investment Bank, the Infrastructure Commission, the Infrastructure Investment Plan, the Infrastructure Delivery Group, the National Transport Strategy and the Strategic Transport Projects review

We are open, connected and make a positive contribution internationally



NPF4 will ensure Scotland’s place in the world is planned for, for example supporting the development of key routes and gateways  It will place a greater emphasis on international planning. Building on our international links in spatial planning, there is scope for NPF4 to look beyond our boundaries and consider future connectivity, markets and investment so that we can respond to both Brexit and wider global change over the long term.

We tackle  poverty by  sharing  opportunities,  wealth and power more equally



Planning has a crucial role to play in reducing inequalities by ensuring everyone lives in good quality places that support quality of life.  We make strategic connections across a number of policy areas, help to address inequality.  The Place Standard is another key tool for reducing inequalities by helping to ensure everyone lives in good quality places that support quality of life.  Our programme will further develop this work by engaging with diverse groups to support equality and target those living with disadvantage, specifically children and young people, older people and Gypsy/Traveller communities   

We live in  communities  that are inclusive,  empowered,  resilient  and safe



  Good planning and design of the built and natural environment can play a key role in ensuring safe public spaces and we are strengthening involvement in planning and places..  The fourteen focus areas of the Place Standard tool include empowerment, decision making, strength of community and opportunity. Long term resilience will also be a key theme for NPF4, with renewed focus on rural development, partly as a result of future pressure arising from Brexit.  

We grow up loved, safe and respected so  that we  realise our  full potential


Involvement in children and young people in planning will be strengthened as a result of the Planning Act and the Place Standard tool, including enhanced participation tools  will further support the involvement of children and young people in the future of their places, helping to address issues such as child poverty, social isolation and wellbeing

We are well  educated,  skilled and  able to  contribute  to society


Planning supports the delivery of education facilities and infrastructure in line with future planned development and population growth.  We also provide support for initiatives to improve and broaden Planning and design skills within the professions, particularly for Young Planners

We have thriving and innovative businesses, with quality jobs and fair work for everyone


Planning supports business growth and jobs by creating the right context for attracting investment.  A core value of the planning system is to help facilitate inclusive and sustainable growth, particularly the creation of new jobs and the strengthening of economic capacity and resilience within communities

We are healthy and active



Planning and places play a crucial role in supporting health and physical activity for example with greenspace, active travel and in managing access to food, food production, community growing etc.

We value, enjoy, protect and enhance our environment



Our planning policies balance development aspirations with environmental protection, making the most of our natural resources and responding to the climate emergency.  NPF4 will be the spatial planning response to the climate emergency accompanied by fuller attention to climate change adaptation to ensure we have a clear plan to build longer term resilience to our changing climate.  Whilst NPF3 and the SPP had a strong focus on renewable energy, technology has since continued to develop at pace, and policies on transport, built development and land use will all have a role to play in reducing emissions. 

We are creative and our vibrant and diverse cultures are expressed and enjoyed widely


Planning our places aims to support and reflect our diverse cultures, including the historic built environment and provision of cultural facilities

We respect,  protect and  fulfil human rights and  live free from discrimination


The Planning (Scotland) Act 2019 strengthens community and individuals’ involvement in decisions about the future of their places.


Transforming digital planning





Secondary legislation








Land value capture







Place programme

Development Planning







Planning and Historic

Environment Decisions

















A&DS sponsorship








Supporting net zero emissions








Supporting inclusive growth






Increasing number of homes








Aligning planning with

infrastructure investment








A 'working countryside'





Supporting work on EU Exit








Gypsy/Traveller Communities







eDevelopment portal








Regional spatial strategies















PAS sponsorship








Promoting Scotland











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