National Planning Framework and local development plans - proposals for amending regulations: consultation

Consultation covering proposals for the regulations on procedures to amend the National Planning Framework and Local Development Plans. We aim to ensure the planning system is more responsive and streamlined, whilst balancing the need for robust justification, engagement and scrutiny.


1. This consultation paper relates to proposals for regulations on the procedures to amend the National Planning Framework (NPF) and local development plans (LDPs). This is part of our wider work on planning reform and implementation of the Planning (Scotland) Act 2019 (the 2019 Act), which made changes to the Town and Country Planning (Scotland) Act 1997 (the 1997 Act). Regulations, also known as secondary legislation, are necessary to provide additional detail to the requirements set out in the Act (primary legislation).

2. Details of how to respond to this consultation are set out in Responding to the Consultation. The closing date for responses is 22 May 2024.

3. Following completion of this consultation, and analysis of the responses, regulations will be drafted and put forward for consideration by the Scottish Parliament. The commencement of the relevant sections of the 2019 Act, implementing the amendments to the 1997 Act, will be co-ordinated with the timing of the new regulations.

The Development Plan

4. The NPF and the LDP for each planning authority comprise the ‘development plan’.

5. The NPF is a long-term plan for Scotland, that sets out the Scottish Ministers' policies and proposals for the development and use of land. It guides spatial development, sets out national planning policies, designates national developments and highlights regional spatial priorities. The current NPF, NPF4 which looks to Scotland in 2045, was adopted by Scottish Ministers in February 2023.

6. LDPs are prepared by each planning authority. They set out how places will change into the future, including where development should and shouldn’t happen. They show where new homes and workplaces will be built, how services and facilities such as schools and travel will be provided, and identify the places and buildings we value and want to protect.

7. Decisions on planning applications are legally required to be made in accordance with the ‘development plan’ unless there are material considerations that indicate otherwise.

8. The 1997 Act, as amended by the 2019 Act, sets out the procedures for preparing the NPF and LDPs. It also allows for the NPF and LDPs to be amended, and for regulations to provide more detail about the amendment process.


9. In the Scottish Government consultation ‘Places, People and Planning’ (January 2017) it was proposed that the review cycles of the NPF and LDPs be extended from 5 years to 10 years, and that provisions for interim updates be made. This proposal sought to achieve stronger and more flexible development plans. The Analysis of Consultation Responses indicated there was general agreement that, should a 10 year plan life be introduced, it must include a mechanism to amend.

10. In responding to the feedback, the June 2017 ‘Places, People and Planning Position Statement’ confirmed that we would progress with the 10-year timeframe and the provision for plans to be amended between full review cycles in a way that is proportionate and avoids delays, whilst ensuring significant change is subjected to robust scrutiny.

11. The Policy Memorandum accompanying the Planning (Scotland) Bill (December 2017) explains that with the extended 10 year timeframe, the provision to enable amendments could help to ensure that the planning system is able to respond with an appropriate policy provision where urgent matters arise, without requiring a review of the whole document and associated resource requirements.

12. During Parliamentary consideration of the Bill, the following sections were added:

  • section 3CC of the 1997 Act provides for ‘Amendment of the National Planning Framework’ (inserted by section 12(2) of the 2019 Act).
  • section 20AA of the 1997 Act provides for ‘Amendment of local development plan’ (inserted by sections 12(3) and 14(6) of the 2019 Act).

13. A December 2021 consultation on regulations to implement new LDP procedures indicated that regulations for amending LDPs would be prepared once the new LDP system was in place. The Town and Country Planning (Scotland) (Development Planning) regulations 2023 came into force in May 2023. These are supported by Guidance on local development planning. This guidance will be updated to reflect the regulations for amending LDPs.

Approach to regulations

14. Our aim across our proposals for both the NPF and LDP amendment regulations is to be proportionate. We understand the resource burden reviewing these documents as a whole will have. As such, we envisage that the amendment process will be a more responsive and streamlined version of the full review process, whilst balancing the need for due process, including appropriate justification and consultation on the proposed amendment.



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