Planning Circular 6/2013: development planning

Guidance on the legislative procedural requirements relating to the preparation of development plans in Scotland.

This document is part of a collection


1. Development plans are the basis for planning decision making, as decisions are to be made in accordance with the plan unless material considerations indicate otherwise. This Circular describes the development planning system in Scotland, and explains legislative provisions in both the primary legislation and the subsequent Regulations. It replaces Circular 1/2009 and Appendix I: The Habitats Regulations, which are hereby revoked.

2. The Planning etc. (Scotland) Act 2006 [1] introduced a new statutory basis for development planning in Scotland. It inserted a new Part 2 into the Town and Country Planning (Scotland) Act 1997 [2] ("the Act") requiring the replacement of structure plans and local plans with strategic development plans ( SDPs) and local development plans ( LDPs). The development plan comprises a local development plan supported by supplementary guidance. In the four largest city regions, the development plan also includes a strategic development plan, which may also be supported by supplementary guidance. This Circular includes sections on SDPs, LDPs and Supplementary Guidance.

3. The Act includes detailed provisions for many of the procedures to be followed in preparing development plans. It also gives Scottish Ministers powers to prepare regulations concerning a range of detailed aspects of the development planning system, the three principal secondary statutory instruments on development planning are:

  • The Town and Country Planning (Development Planning) (Scotland) Regulations 2008 [3] (These are the main development planning regulations. References to 'regulations' in this Circular are to these regulations unless otherwise stated);
  • The Town and Country Planning (Grounds for declining to follow recommendations) (Scotland) Regulations 2009 [4] (These are separate from the main regulations because they were dealt with by the Scottish Parliament under affirmative procedure); and
  • The Planning etc. (Scotland) Act 2006 (Development Planning) (Saving, Transitional and Consequential Provisions) Order 2008 [5] .

Since 2008, a number of statutory instruments have amended the above regulations and Order, including:

  • The Planning (Control of Major-Accident Hazards) (Scotland) Regulations 2009 [6] ; and
  • The Town and Country Planning (Miscellaneous Amendments) (Scotland) Regulations 2011 [7] .

The Conservation (Natural Habitats, &c.) Regulations 1994 [8] , as amended [9] , also have significant implications for development planning.

4. This Circular explains how these various legislative requirements fit together. It is intended to provide a single, straightforward description of the legal requirements and to explain Scottish Ministers' expectations for the key parts of the process in preparing development plans and the Examination procedure where the plan will be scrutinised by an appointed person [10] .

In this Circular, where legislative provisions apply equally to local development plans as they do to strategic development plans, they are explained more fully in the local development plan section and a cross reference provided.

5. The regulations provide a minimum set of requirements to ensure that the priorities of Scottish Ministers for the operation of the development planning system are achieved. They allow authorities to respond appropriately to the different circumstances in which plans will be prepared over time and across Scotland.


Email: Scottish Government Planning

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