There can be no doubt that this has been a very significant year both in the history, and for the future, of Scotland’s planning system. The Government’s adoption of National Planning Framework 4 (NPF4) in February, following the Scottish Parliament’s resounding vote of approval in January, brought to an end an intensive period of collaboration over how we plan for Scotland’s places for years to come. It signalled the start of a bold new future, placing the climate and nature crises front and centre of our thinking, alongside a reinforced commitment to strong, well-functioning places and living communities right across the country.
I was delighted to be appointed to the role of Minister for Local Government Empowerment and Planning at such an exciting time for planning reform, and particularly through the transition from policy development into delivery of NPF4.
NPF4 now has a statutory status as a core part of the development plan which forms the basis for all planning decisions made by the Planning and Environmental Appeals Division and by our planning authorities. And it takes its place within the wider programme of planning reform, which now also includes the new arrangements for preparation of evidence-based, place-focused, new-style local development plans, on which the DPEA will play such an important role.
The planning reform programme has been subject of a massive collaborative effort, ever since an independent review convened in 2015, to develop and implement sweeping new policy and legislation. Now we are into a new beginning for everyone involved in development, in planning and decision-making across Scotland. The DPEA provides a vital public service in supporting the effective operation of our planning system through fair and thorough examination of proposals and policies that will shape Scotland’s future development through this new era.
I am very pleased to welcome this annual review and I thank the DPEA for its excellent work over the last year. I look forward to following progress in its evolving responsibilities through the implementation of Scotland’s newly reformed planning system.
Joe FitzPatrick, Minister for Local Government Empowerment and Planning
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