Part 3 – National Planning Policy
Sustainable Places (Universal Policies)
To achieve a net zero, nature-positive Scotland, we must rebalance our planning system so that climate change and nature recovery are the primary guiding principles for all our plans and all our decisions. That includes emissions reduction and the adaptations we need to make in order to be resilient to the risks created by a warmer climate. It also means ensuring that our approach to planning is designed to help Scotland's biodiversity and better connect our biodiversity rich areas, and to invest in nature-based solutions, benefiting people and nature.
A place based approach is at the heart of creating a more sustainable and fair Scotland. The planning system should apply the Place Principle which commits us to take a collaborative place-based approach to future development. This must involve working with stakeholders and local communities to create liveable, healthier and sustainable places that improve lives, builds economic prosperity and contribute to net zero and environmental ambitions.
The following Universal Policies should apply to all planning decisions.
We want our places to help us tackle the climate and nature crises and ensure Scotland adapts to thrive within the planet's sustainable limits.
Q22: Do you agree that addressing climate change and nature recovery should be the primary guiding principles for all our plans and planning decisions?
Policy 1: Plan-led approach to sustainable development
All local development plans should manage the use and development of land in the long term public interest. This means that new local development plans should seek to achieve Scotland's national outcomes (within the meaning of Part 1 of the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015) and the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
Policy 1: Plan-led approach to sustainable development
Q23: Do you agree with this policy approach?
Policy 2: Climate emergency
a) When considering all development proposals significant weight should be given to the Global Climate Emergency.
b) All development should be designed to minimise emissions over its lifecycle in line with the decarbonisation pathways set out nationally.
c) Development proposals that will generate significant emissions, on their own or when combined with other proposals or when considered in combination with other proposals, allocations or consented development, should not be supported unless the applicant provides evidence that this level of emissions is the minimum that can be achieved for the development to be viable and it is also demonstrated that the proposed development is in the long-term public interest.
Development proposals for national, major or EIA development should be accompanied by a whole-life assessment of greenhouse gas emissions from the development. In decision making the scale of the contribution of development proposals to emissions in relation to emissions reduction targets should be taken into account. Where significant emissions are likely (even as minimised) in relation to national decarbonisation pathways but the planning authority is minded to grant consent, emissions off-setting measures may be considered including nature-based solutions. Such measures should take place on-site as an integral part of the overall development, or off-site where on-site provision is not possible or insufficient.
d) Development proposals for new, or alterations to, buildings, infrastructure and spaces should be designed to be adaptable to the future impacts of climate change. Proposals to sensitively incorporate climate adaptation and mitigation measures for existing buildings, infrastructure and spaces, should generally be supported.
Policy 2: Climate emergency
Q24: Do you agree that this policy will ensure the planning system takes account of the need to address the climate emergency?
Policy 3: Nature crisis
a) Development plans should facilitate biodiversity enhancement, nature recovery and nature restoration across the development plan area, including by: facilitating the creation of nature networks and strengthening connections between them to support improved ecological connectivity; through the creation of new or restoration of degraded habitats; and, through measures to increase populations of priority species. Nature networks, which connect biodiversity rich areas, may include international, national and locally protected sites, and Other Effective Area-Based Conservation measures (OECMs).
b) Development proposals should contribute to the enhancement of biodiversity, including restoring degraded habitats and building and strengthening nature networks and the connections between them.
c) Any potential adverse impacts of development proposals on biodiversity, nature networks and the natural environment should be minimised through careful planning and design. Design should take into account the need to reverse biodiversity loss, safeguard the services that the natural environment provides and build the resilience of nature by enhancing nature networks and maximising the potential for restoration.
d) Development proposals for national, major and of EIA development or development for which an Appropriate Assessment is required should only be supported where it can be demonstrated that the proposal will conserve and enhance biodiversity, including nature networks within and adjacent to the site, so that they are in a demonstrably better state than without intervention, including through future management. Applications for farmed fish or shellfish development are excluded from this requirement. To inform this, proposals should:
- be based on an understanding of the existing characteristics of the site and its local, regional and national ecological context prior to development, including the presence of any irreplaceable habitats;
- wherever feasible, integrate and make best use of nature-based solutions, demonstrating how this has been achieved;
- be supported by an assessment of potential negative effects which should be fully mitigated in line with the mitigation hierarchy prior to identifying enhancements;
- provide significant biodiversity enhancements, in addition to any proposed mitigation. Biodiversity enhancements should include supporting nature networks, linking to and strengthening habitat connectivity within and beyond the development. Biodiversity enhancements should be secured within a reasonable timescale and with reasonable certainty. They should include management arrangements for their long term retention and monitoring, wherever appropriate.
e) Proposals for local development should only be supported if they include appropriate measures to enhance biodiversity, in proportion to the nature and scale of development. Applications for individual householder development, farmed fish or shellfish development, or which fall within scope of the policy above, are excluded from this requirement. Development proposals which integrate nature-based solutions and deliver positive effects for biodiversity should be supported.
Policy 3: Nature crisis
Q25: Do you agree that this policy will ensure that the planning system takes account of the need to address the nature crisis?
Policy 4: Human rights and equality
a) Planning should respect, protect and fulfil human rights, seek to eliminate discrimination and promote equality.
b) Planning authorities, applicants, key agencies and communities have a responsibility to consult and engage others collaboratively, meaningfully and proportionately. Throughout the planning system, opportunities are available for everyone to engage in local development planning and the development decisions which affect them. Such engagement, undertaken in line with statutory requirements, should be early, collaborative, meaningful and proportionate. Support or concern expressed on matters material to planning should be given careful consideration in developing and in considering development proposals.
Policy 4: Human rights and equality
Q26: Do you agree that this policy effectively addresses the need for planning to respect, protect and fulfil human rights, seek to eliminate discrimination and promote equality?
Policy 5: Community wealth building
a) Development plans should address community wealth building priorities by reflecting a people-centred approach to local economic development. Spatial strategies should support community wealth building; address economic disadvantage and inequality; and provide added social value.
b) Proposals for development within the categories of national developments and major developments should contribute to community wealth building objectives.
Policy 5: Community wealth building
Q27: Do you agree that planning policy should support community wealth building, and does this policy deliver this?
Policy 6: Design, quality and place
a) Development proposals should be designed to a high quality so that the scale and nature of the development contributes positively to the character and sense of place of the area in which they are to be located.
b) Development proposals should incorporate the key principles of Designing Streets, Creating Places, New Design in Historic Settings and any design guidance adopted by planning authorities and statutory consultees. Where relevant and appropriate, development proposals should also demonstrate through design tools, such as a Design Framework, Place Standard Tools, Development Brief, Masterplan, Design Guide, Design Code, Design Statement or Design and Access Statement, that an inclusive and design-led approach has been taken to development.
c) Development proposals should be able to demonstrate how the six qualities of successful places have been incorporated into the design of the development so that it contributes positively to the character and quality of the area and the way it functions.
d) Development proposals that are poorly designed, including those that are not consistent with the six qualities of successful places, should not be supported.
e) Proposals that are detrimental to the character or appearance of the surrounding area taking into account effects on daylight, sunlight, noise, air quality and privacy should not be supported, in order to protect amenity.
Policy 6: Design, quality and place
Q28: Do you agree that this policy will enable the planning system to promote design, quality and place?
The Six Qualities of Successful Places
1. Designed for lifelong health and wellbeing: supporting safety and improving mental and physical health.
By encouraging active lifestyles, through walkable neighbourhoods, as well as ensuring equitable access for everyone (regardless of gender, age, ability and culture) to well-designed buildings and a nature-rich local environment, including quality blue/green spaces that are cared for and well maintained.
2. Safe and pleasant: supporting safe, pleasant and welcoming natural and built spaces.
By designing, or retrofitting, spaces of all sizes and purposes to bring a sense of 'joy' and allowing people (whether individuals, families and groups) to meet safely, feel at ease, be included and feel positive towards being playful. Including climatic adaptation, shading, shelter – good use of blue and green infrastructure and wellbeing-promoting natural spaces, tackling vacant and derelict land, air quality and known environmental hazards.
3. Well connected and easy to move around: supporting networks of all scales.
Maximising connectivity (including digital), easy to move around and reducing car dependency – by designing places for everyone for walking and wheeling, providing for active travel, step free transitions between public and private spaces, simple transitions from one form of transport to another and good public transport routes.
4. Distinctive: supporting attention to local architectural styles and natural landscapes.
To be interpreted, literally or creatively, into designs to reinforce identity – by drawing on historic environment assets, cultural heritage, stories and communities for inspiration as well as examining building types, colours, materials, skylines and landscapes, and acknowledging the sense of place and identity that people feel for their heritage and history.
5 Sustainable: supporting net zero, nature-positive, and climate-resilient places.
With resource-efficient, regenerative design and a sustainable environmental footprint, including through: energy efficiency; integration of nature-based solutions; and resilient, confident, future-proof planning of resources, to create healthier, attractive, sustainable places to live, invest, work and play.
Supporting the just transition to a net zero, nature-positive Scotland which makes best use of natural assets for communities and supports their right to a healthy environment.
6 Adaptable: supporting commitment to investing in the long-term value of buildings, streets and spaces.
By building in flexibility in line with circular economy principles, so that they can quickly be changed to accommodate different uses as well as maintained over time. By recognising the need to change and cope with social, economic and environmental pressures as well as accepting the critical role of ongoing maintenance to ensure resilience and community wellbeing over time. Reusing and repurposing existing buildings and assets can also support our net zero ambitions and the circular economy.
20 minute neighbourhoods
We want our places to support local living.
20 Minute Neighbourhoods are a method of achieving connected and compact neighbourhoods designed in such a way that all people can meet the majority of their daily needs within a reasonable walk, wheel or cycle (within approx. 800m) of their home. The principle can be adjusted to include varying geographical scales from cities and urban environments, to rural and island communities. Housing would be planned together with local infrastructure including schools, community centres, local shops, greenspaces and health and social care to significantly reduce the need to use unsustainable modes of travel, to prioritise quality of life, reduce inequalities, increase levels of health and wellbeing and respond to the climate emergency. This can also include providing digital services where appropriate.
We urgently need to reduce the need to travel unsustainably and to encourage people to live more locally. This can be achieved by building on the Place Principle in the creation of 20 minute neighbourhoods where the accessibility credentials and the quality of our places support our health and wellbeing, reduce inequalities and respond to the requirements for the creation of resilient places to cope with and tackle climate change. The planning system should support development that will contribute to the creation of walkable, liveable and thriving places that provide and encourage sustainable travel options, provide communities with local access to the wide range of facilities, services, work and opportunities for socialising, leisure and play activities that they need to support a healthier and flourishing community.
This concept will apply differently in urban and rural areas and should be guided by the Place Principle and place-based working that informs the local development plan. Communities will be well-placed to inform the approach to their own areas. Dense urban areas will more easily be able to benefit from a network of 20 minute neighbourhoods and the focus should be on maintaining mixed uses and improving the quality and diversity of local areas, particularly for communities who face more disadvantage. Retrofitting facilities in areas which are predominantly residential should also help to reduce the need to travel.
The application of the 20 Minute Neighbourhood will vary across the country and will need to be adjusted to suit local circumstances particularly in rural areas where the delivery of services and extent of local infrastructure may not necessarily be supported by the surrounding density of population. 20 Minute Neighbourhoods are however an opportunity to rethink how housing, service provision, city, town or village centres could be re-configured to support new ways of working, homeworking and community hubs in line with localism objectives and reducing demand for motorised travel.
Policy 7: Local living
Decision makers can determine what facilities can reasonably be expected to be accessible from homes, taking into account local circumstances, as well as the role of digital connectivity in providing some services remotely.
a) Local development plans should support the principle of 20 minute neighbourhoods, including through the spatial strategy, development proposals, associated site briefs and masterplans. The approach should take into account the local context for the plan and reflect the particular characteristics of the area. It should set out proposals to support the development and network of 20 minute neighbourhood by bringing together relevant policies in this NPF to promote development that will contribute to the creation of safe, walkable, liveable and thriving places that provide and encourage sustainable travel options, provide communities with local access to the wide range of facilities, services, work, natural spaces and opportunities for socialising, leisure and play activities that they need to support a healthier and flourishing and climate resilient community.
b) Development proposals that are consistent with the principles of 20 minute neighbourhoods should be supported. To inform this, relevant development proposals, including those for homes, should be safe, take into account the infrastructure of a place and be accessed easily by walking, wheeling and cycling from homes. Consideration should be given to:
- local public transport and safe walking, wheeling and cycling networks;
- local employment opportunities, good connections to public transport, jobs and services within the region;
- local shopping areas;
- local health and social care facilities and services;
- local childcare, schools and lifelong learning opportunities;
- local playgrounds and informal play opportunities, parks, green streets and spaces, community gardens, sport and recreation facilities;
- safe streets and spaces;
- affordable housing options, ability to age in place, housing diversity;
- the level of interconnectivity with the surrounding neighbourhood. Proposals should demonstrate how the development will relate to, and enhance, the local area.
Policy 7: Local living
Q29: Do you agree that this policy sufficiently addresses the need to support local living?
We want an infrastructure-first approach to be embedded in Scotland's planning system.
An infrastructure-first approach to planning means putting infrastructure considerations at the heart of place making. It is based on:
- early engagement and collaboration between relevant stakeholders to better inform land use and investment decisions;
- having an evidence based understanding of potential impacts on infrastructure and infrastructure needs from early in the development planning process;
- providing clarity over infrastructure requirements and their planned delivery to meet the needs of communities; and
- ensuring infrastructure considerations are integral to planning decision making.
Taking an infrastructure first approach will support the provision of the infrastructure, services and facilities that are necessary to create liveable and sustainable places. It can also support our drive towards a more sustainable use of infrastructure, making better use of existing assets and prioritising low-carbon infrastructure, supporting Scotland's transition to net zero.
Policy 8: Infrastructure First
a) Local Development Plans and delivery programmes should be based on an infrastructure-first approach. They should:
- align with relevant infrastructure plans and policies; including the Infrastructure Investment Plan (investment hierarchy) and National Transport Strategy (sustainable travel and investment hierarchies), the Strategic Transport Projects Review, and the National Marine Plan;
- be informed by evidence on infrastructure capacity, condition, needs and deliverability;
- set out the infrastructure requirements of the spatial strategy, informed by the evidence base, and how and by whom this will be delivered; and
- indicate the type, level and location of the contributions (financial or in kind) that development will be required to make.
b) Where a development proposal creates an infrastructure need, it should demonstrate how account has been taken of the Scottish Government Investment Hierarchy, including the utilisation of existing infrastructure.
c) Development proposals which provide (or contribute to) infrastructure that is identified as necessary in Local Development Plans and their delivery programmes should be supported.
d) Development proposals should mitigate their impacts on infrastructure. Development proposals should not be supported unless provision is made to mitigate those impacts. Where planning conditions, planning obligations or other legal agreements are to be used, the relevant tests should be met.
Policy 8: Infrastructure First
Q30: Do you agree that this policy ensures that we make best use of existing infrastructure and take an infrastructure-first approach to planning?
We want to support the delivery of high quality, sustainable homes that meet the needs of people throughout their lives.
Good quality homes should be at the heart of great places and contribute to strengthening the health and wellbeing of Scotland's communities. To help tackle climate change, we will need more energy efficient, net zero emissions homes. This can also support a greener, fairer and more inclusive wellbeing economy and has the potential to help build community wealth. The planning system should support the delivery of more and better homes, in the right locations, providing choice across tenures that meet the diverse housing needs of people and communities across Scotland.
Policy 9: Quality homes
a) Local development plans should identify a housing target for the area it covers, in the form of a Housing Land Requirement. Representing how much land is required, it should at least meet the 10 year Minimum All-Tenure Housing Land Requirement (MATHLR) set out in Annex B.
b) A deliverable housing land pipeline should be established for the Housing Land Requirement. Representing when land will be brought forward, it should set out short, medium- and long-term sites which can be supported by the infrastructure requirements of the spatial strategy. Locations that may be suitable for new homes beyond the plan period can also be identified. Where sites in the deliverable housing land pipeline do not progress to delivery as programmed and alternative delivery mechanisms are not possible, longer term deliverable sites should be brought forward. Site de-allocation should be considered where they are no longer deliverable. The Delivery Programme and Housing Land Audit should be used to manage the development pipeline.
c) Land should be allocated to meet the Housing Land Requirement in sustainable locations that create quality places for people to live. The location of where new homes are allocated should be consistent with the principles of 20 minute neighbourhoods and an infrastructure-first approach. In rural and island areas, authorities are encouraged to set out tailored approaches to housing which reflect locally specific market circumstances and delivery approaches. Diverse needs and delivery models should be taken into account across all areas, as well as allocating land to ensure provision of accommodation for Gypsy/Travellers and Travelling Showpeople.
d) Development proposals for homes should be of a high quality and contribute to making great places. Their design should reflect the six qualities of successful places. Homes should be adaptable to changing and diverse needs and lifestyles.
e) Development proposals for more than 50 dwellings should be accompanied by a statement of community benefit. Planning authorities may wish to extend this to smaller proposals, for example in rural areas. Planning authorities should take this information into account when assessing proposals. The statement should explain the contribution of the proposal to:
- meeting local housing requirements, including affordable homes;
- providing or enhancing local infrastructure, facilities and services; and
- improving the residential amenity of the surrounding area.
f) Proposals for new homes that improve affordability and choice should be supported. An equalities led approach to addressing identified gaps in provision should be taken, informed by the Evidence Report or Local Housing Strategy, whichever is latest. This could include: self-provided homes; accessible, adaptable and wheelchair accessible homes; build to rent; affordable homes; a range of size of homes such as those for larger families; homes for older people; people undertaking further and higher education; and other specialist groups.
g) Proposals for public or private, permanent or temporary, Gypsy/Traveller and Travelling Showpeople sites on land not identified for this use in the development plan should be supported where a need is identified unless:
- the proposed site relates to protected land or features and that the design of the proposal does not mitigate against any unacceptable impacts; or
- the proposed site cannot be adequately accessed and serviced; or
- there would be an unacceptable impact on the character, appearance or amenity of the area. Judgements should focus on the acceptability of the development being proposed.
h) Development proposals that make provision for affordable homes in areas where there is an identified requirement should be supported. Proposals for market homes should generally only be supported where a contribution to the provision of affordable homes on a site is at least 25% of the total number of homes. A higher contribution than this benchmark may be sought where justified by evidence of need. The contribution should generally be for serviced land within a site to be made available for affordable housing. Local authorities can also determine in local development plans the locations or circumstances where a lower contribution may be appropriate. This could include, for example, where there is evidence of impact on viability, small-scale developments or where a planning authority wishes to incentivise particular types of homes to diversify the supply, for example self-build, accessible or build-to-rent homes.
i) New homes on land not identified for housebuilding in the local development plan should not be supported. Exceptions should be limited to circumstances where the planning authority determines that:
- overall progress in the build-out of sites included in the housing land pipeline is exceeding delivery timelines set out in the most up-to-date delivery programme for the plan; and
- the proposal is supported by an agreed timescale for build-out; and
- the proposal is otherwise consistent with the plan spatial strategy and other relevant policies including on 20 minute neighbourhoods, rural places and infrastructure; or
- the proposal is consistent with policy on rural places; or
- the proposal is for a new home or homes on a small site within an existing residential area; or
- the proposal is for the delivery of affordable homes of less than 50 units as part of a local authority supported affordable housing plan.
j) Householder development proposals should be supported where they:
- do not have a detrimental impact on the character or environmental quality of the house and the surrounding area by virtue of size, design and materials; and
- do not have a detrimental effect on the neighbouring properties in terms of physical impact, overshadowing or overlooking; and
- are to provide adaptations relating to people with health conditions that lead to particular accommodation needs that will allow them to live in a home or be cared for there; and
- are to provide adaptations in response to risks from a changing climate.
Policy 9: Quality homes
Q31: Do you agree that this policy meets the aims of supporting the delivery of high quality, sustainable homes that meet the needs of people throughout their lives?
Sustainable travel and transport
We want to reduce the need to travel unsustainably, decarbonise our transport system and promote active travel choices.
Scotland's transport system should contribute to the creation of great places through prioritising the need to reduce inequalities; taking climate action; helping to deliver a greener, fairer and more inclusive wellbeing economy. The planning system should support development that minimises the need to travel unsustainably and prioritises walking, wheeling, cycling, public transport and shared transport options in preference to single occupancy private car use for the movement of people. The planning system should ensure that the National Transport Strategy 2 Sustainable Travel and Investment Hierarchies are integrated into the appraisal and assessment of development proposals and decisions in order to make best use of existing infrastructure, and reduce unsustainable travel and transport of goods.
Policy 10: Sustainable transport
a) Local development plans should aim to reduce the need to travel unsustainably by prioritising locations for future development that can be accessed by sustainable modes. A Plan's spatial strategy should be informed by evidence of the area's existing and committed transport infrastructure capacity.
b) Local development plans should be informed by an appropriate and effective transport appraisal undertaken in line with Development Planning Transport Appraisal Guidance (DPMTAG). Plans should be informed by evidence of the area's transport infrastructure capacity, and by an appraisal of the plan's spatial strategy, and reasonable alternatives to it, on the transport network. This should identify any potential cumulative transport impacts and mitigation proposed to inform the infrastructure-first approach. The spatial strategy should reflect the sustainable travel hierarchy and transport investment hierarchy by making best use of existing infrastructure and services and also help to deliver 20 minute neighbourhoods. Where there is likely to be an impact on the trunk road or rail network, early engagement with Transport Scotland is required.
c) Where a new development or a change of use is likely to generate a significant increase in the number of person trips, a transport assessment should be carried out. This should identify any potential cumulative effects which need to be addressed. It should set out measures required to address the transport impact of the development, and improve accessibility and safety for all modes of travel (in line with the Sustainable Travel and Investment Hierarchies).
d) Development proposals for significant travel generating uses, or smaller-scale developments where it is considered important to monitor travel patterns resulting from development, will only be supported if they are accompanied by a Travel Plan with supporting planning conditions/ obligations. Travel Plans should set out clear arrangements for delivering mode share targets, monitoring and evaluation.
e) Development proposals that have the potential to affect the operation and safety of the strategic transport network need to be fully assessed to determine their impact. Where it has been demonstrated that existing infrastructure has the capacity to accommodate a development without adverse impacts on safety or unacceptable impacts on operational performance, further investment in the network is not likely to be required. Where such investment is required in line with the sustainable investment hierarchy, the cost of the mitigation measures required to ensure the continued safe and effective operation of the network should be met by the developer.
f) While new junctions on trunk roads are not normally acceptable, the case for a new junction will only be considered where significant prosperity or regeneration benefits can be demonstrated. New junctions will only be considered if they are designed in accordance with Design Manual for Roads and Bridges and where there would be no adverse impact on road safety or operational performance.
g) Development proposals should put people and place before unsustainable travel where appropriate, and respond to characteristics of the location of the proposal. Effective design can reduce the number and speed of vehicles and provide safe crossings on local roads. Design of new transport infrastructure can be a valuable opportunity to incorporate blue and green infrastructure and nature rich habitats (such as natural planting or water systems) where possible.
h) Planning applications for significant travel generating uses should not be supported at locations which would increase reliance on the private car, and where:
- direct, easy, segregated and safe links to local facilities via walking, wheeling and cycling networks are not available or cannot be made available before occupation;
- access to local facilities via public transport networks would involve walking or wheeling more than 400m;
- the Transport Assessment does not identify satisfactory ways of meeting sustainable transport requirements in line with the NTS2 hierarchies.
i) Development proposals should demonstrate:
- how the development will provide for and prioritise transport in line with the sustainable travel and investment hierarchies;
- consideration of the need to integrate transport modes;
- the need to as far as possible facilitate access by reliable public transport, ideally supporting the use of existing services or new services that do not require on-going public sector funding.
- the provision of electric, hydrogen, and other low or zero-emission vehicle and cycle charging points that are provided in safe and convenient locations.
j) Proposals to improve, enhance or provide active travel infrastructure or public transport and multimodal hubs should be supported where they can be demonstrated to be deliverable and will be effective in relation to delivering mode share targets.
k) Proposals for new and upgraded transport infrastructure must consider the needs of users of all ages and abilities, including in line with relevant equalities legislation.
l) Development proposals should consider the need to supply safe and convenient cycle parking to serve the development, sheltered where possible, unless it can be demonstrated that existing nearby provision is sufficient. Cycle parking should, be more conveniently located than car parking serving the development. Flatted residential development should give consideration to the need to provide secure and convenient storage for range of cycle types and sizes, depending on the type, location and accessibility of the development and the likely needs of the users.
m) Development proposals which are ambitious in terms of low/no car parking have a role to play in very accessible urban locations, well-served by sustainable transport modes. In such circumstances, consideration should be given to the type, mix and use of development, car ownership levels, the surrounding uses, and the accessibility of the development by sustainable modes.
Policy 10: Sustainable transport
Q32: Do you agree that this policy will reduce the need to travel unsustainably, decarbonise our transport system and promote active travel choices?
Heat and cooling
We want our places to help us achieve zero emissions from heating and cooling our buildings and adapt to changing temperatures.
Heat networks can help contribute to Scotland's net zero ambitions by using and storing heat from low or zero emissions sources, such as surplus or waste heat, heat from large scale heat pumps, particularly in conjunction with geothermal systems or bodies of water or hydrogen to provide zero emissions heat to homes. Examples of potential sources of waste heat include data centres, hydrogen production, the waste water system and industrial processes.
Policy 11: Heat and cooling
a) Local development plans should take into account the area's Local Heat & Energy Efficiency Strategy (LHEES) and areas of heat network potential and any designated heat network zones (HNZ) when allocating land.
b) Development proposals, including retrofit where appropriate, should be supported where they connect to existing heat networks. In particular, development proposals within or adjacent to a Heat Network Zone should be designed and constructed to connect to the existing heat network.
c) Development proposals in locations where a heat network is planned but not yet in place should only be supported where they are designed to allow for the cost-effective connection at a later date. This may include, for example, allocating space in plant rooms for heat exchangers and thermal stores, safeguarding suitable routes for pipework from the site boundary and making provision for connections to the future network at the site boundary.
d) Development proposals with no demonstrable effective solution to connecting to a heat network should provide an alternative low or zero emissions heating system.
e) National and major development with waste or surplus heat should be co-located in areas of heat demand and are expected to be supported by a heat and power plan which clearly demonstrates how energy recovered from the development would be used to produce electricity and heat. Pipe runs should be safeguarded to enable later development of heat networks, including connection and pipework to the curtilage of development.
f) Development proposals for energy infrastructure should take into account heat maps and zoning for heat and energy efficiency. They should be supported where they repurpose former fossil fuel infrastructure for the production of low carbon energy, are either within or adjacent to a Heat Network Zone and can be cost-effectively linked to an existing or planned heat network.
g) Domestic biomass energy systems should not be supported where networked systems are available. Where no alternatives are available, applications for flues can be supported provided that the impact on local air quality and of smoke on neighbouring properties has been considered; and the associated biomass burner is a type formally approved for use in smoke control areas.
h) Applications should be supported where they seek to repurpose former fossil fuel infrastructure for the production and handling of low carbon energy. Where the repurposed infrastructure will generate surplus heat, planning applications should be supported where they are either within or adjacent to a Heat Network Zone and can be cost-effectively linked to an existing or planned heat network
i) To reduce overheating and reliance on air conditioning systems as far as possible, development proposals for buildings that will be occupied by people should be designed to promote sustainable temperature management, where possible prioritising natural or passive solutions.
Policy 11: Heat and cooling
Q33: Do you agree that this policy will help us achieve zero emissions from heating and cooling our buildings and adapt to changing temperatures?
Blue and green infrastructure, play and sport
We want our places to be greener, healthier, and more resilient to climate change by supporting and enhancing blue and green infrastructure and providing good quality local opportunities for play and sport.
Networks of blue and green infrastructure are an integral part of successful places. Blue and green infrastructure (such as green spaces, sustainable urban drainage systems, urban trees and green roofs and walls) can offer a wide range of benefits. They can support lifelong health and wellbeing, climate resilience, flood risk management, temperature regulation in urban areas, reduction of air and noise pollution, biodiversity and nature networks, while also supporting good, green jobs. Accessible, high quality natural and civic spaces can be used by communities for many activities: exercise and recreation, play, sport and connecting with nature. The planning system should support development that expands and strengthens networks of blue and green infrastructure, to help us respond to our climate change and biodiversity goals, and support our placemaking ambitions.
Outdoor spaces for play, sport and recreation can make a significant contribution towards creating more liveable and healthier places. Children experience a range of health, wellbeing and educational benefits from outdoor play, and learning in, and connecting with nature. Providing quality opportunities for children of all ages to play will benefit their physical and cognitive development, and uphold their right to engage in play and recreational activities. The planning system should support development that expands opportunities for play in the public realm and in a range of different types of open and green spaces, and which addresses unequal access to play spaces and facilities.
Policy 12: Blue and green infrastructure, play and sport
a) Local development plans should identify and protect blue and green infrastructure, safeguarding existing assets. Plans should also identify opportunities to enhance and expand provision and access to blue and green infrastructure (at strategic and local scales). Development allocations should be chosen taking account of the areas that can best contribute to enhancing and delivering key green networks and priorities.
b) Local development plans should identify new, enhanced provision or improved access to play opportunities for children as part of enhancing and expanding blue and green infrastructure. Blue and green infrastructure should provide opportunities for play and recognise the need for, and provide publicly accessible, outdoor opportunities for formal, informal and incidental play. These facilities should be good quality, accessible and suitable for different ages and abilities, to satisfy current and likely future needs and demand in the community.
c) Development proposals that result in fragmentation or net loss of existing blue and green infrastructure should not be supported unless it can be demonstrated that the overall integrity of the network of blue and green infrastructure will be maintained.
d) Development proposals in regional and country parks should only be supported where they are compatible with the uses, natural habitats and character of the park.
e) Development proposals should not be supported where they result in the loss of outdoor sports facilities, unless the proposal:
- is ancillary to the principal use of the site as an outdoor sports facility; or
- involves only a minor part of the facility and would not affect its use; or
- meets a requirement to replace the facility which would be lost, either by a new facility or by upgrading an existing facility to provide a better quality facility. The location should be convenient for users and the overall playing capacity of the area should be maintained; or
- can demonstrate, in consultation with sportscotland where appropriate, that there is a clear excess of provision to meet current and anticipated demand in the area, and that the site would be developed without detriment to the overall quality of provision.
f) Development proposals that result in the quantitative and/or qualitative loss of children's outdoor play provision should not be supported, unless it can be demonstrated that there is no ongoing or future demand or it is replaced by a newly created, better-quality or more appropriate provision within the development proposal.
g) Development proposals for temporary or permanent open space, green space or play space on unused or under-used land should be supported.
h) Development proposals should incorporate and enhance blue and green infrastructure wherever possible. They should be designed to be multifunctional and consistent with the six qualities of successful places. This means paying particular attention to, for example: ensuring that the needs of all potential users are met; connections with wider green networks for people and wildlife; responding to local character and distinctiveness; building in resilience; and maximising use throughout the year. Designs should take account of existing provision and identified requirements, to ensure the proposed blue green infrastructure is of an appropriate type(s), quantity, quality and accessibility.
i) Major development proposals for new homes, and other major development likely to be used by children and young people should incorporate well-designed, good-quality provision for play, recreation and relaxation.
j) Development proposals that include new streets and public realm should incorporate the principles of Designing Streets and inclusive design to enable children and young people to play and move around safely and independently; maximising the opportunities for informal and incidental play in the neighbourhood.
k) New, replacement or improved play provision should, as far as possible and as appropriate:
- provide stimulating environments;
- be inclusive;
- be suitable for different ages of children and young people;
- be easily and safely accessible by children and young people independently; including those with a disability;
- incorporate trees and/or other forms of greenery;
- form an integral part of the surrounding neighbourhood;
- be well overlooked for passive surveillance;
- be linked directly to other open spaces and play areas.
l) The long-term stewardship of blue and green infrastructure should be addressed to maintain its quality and integrity. Development proposals should provide effective management and maintenance plans wherever this is necessary. Developers must provide details of the functions of the blue and green infrastructure, the maintenance requirements, together with the party responsible for these, and demonstrate funding arrangements for their long-term delivery to the satisfaction of the local authority before construction starts.
Policy 12: Blue and green infrastructure, play and sport
Q34: Do you agree that this policy will help to make our places greener, healthier, and more resilient to climate change by supporting and enhancing blue and green infrastructure and providing good quality local opportunities for play and sport?
Sustainable flood risk and water management
We want our places to be resilient to future flood risk and to make efficient and sustainable use of water resources.
The frequency, pattern and severity of flooding is expected to increase as a result of climate change leaving some places in Scotland more vulnerable to the impacts of flooding. The planning system should strengthen future resilience to flood risk by reducing the vulnerability of existing and future development to flooding. It should also encourage the use of natural flood risk management to provide wider benefits for people and nature.
Policy 13: Flooding
a) Local development plans should strengthen community resilience to the current and future impacts of climate change, including identifying opportunities to implement natural flood risk management and blue green infrastructure. Plans should take into account the probability of flooding from all sources. New development proposals in flood risk areas, or which can impact on flood risk areas, should be avoided. A cautious approach should be taken, regarding the calculated probability of flooding as a best estimate, not a precise forecast.
b) Development proposals should not be supported within the Future Functional Floodplain unless they are for:
- essential infrastructure where the location is required for operational reasons;
- water compatible uses;
- redevelopment of an existing building or site within a built-up area for an equal or less vulnerable use;
- the site is within a built up area and has protection from an existing or committed flood protection scheme.
Any of the above exceptions must meet the following criteria:
- all risks have been fully assessed and understood;
- any first occupied /utilised floor of a development is above the future flood level, plus an allowance for freeboard;
- there is no reduction in floodplain capacity, increased risk for others, or a need for future flood protection schemes;
- safe operation and access/egress can be achieved during the design flood event; and
- flood-resistant and resilient materials and construction methods are used; and
- the ability to make future adaptations to accommodate the effects of climate change can be demonstrated.
c) Small scale extensions and alterations to existing buildings are outwith the scope of this policy, provided that they would not have a significant effect on the storage capacity of the functional floodplain or local flooding problems.
d) Development proposals for Most Vulnerable and Civil Infrastructure uses in areas outwith the functional floodplain should incorporate additional measures to ensure that they remain safe and operational during more extreme events up to and including the 0.1% design flood.
e) Development proposals should not be supported:
- within areas at risk of surface water flooding unless the risk can be successfully mitigated;
- where the design for surface water drainage and ground water drainage increases discharge to the public sewer network;
- where the proposed drainage solution has a negative impact on the overall catchment; unless adequate land is set aside for blue and green infrastructure and the design and construction permits safe operation and function of the proposal in a storm event and that managed water flow is not impeded.
f) To avoid increased surface water flooding development proposals should only be supported if they:
- minimise the area of impermeable surface; and
- provide adequate drainage of surface water wherever practicable by blue and green infrastructure (such as Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDS) including raingardens).
g) Development proposals should only be supported if they can be connected to the public water mains. If connection is not feasible, connection to a wholesome supply of drinking water that is resilient to periods of water scarcity can be supported in exceptional circumstances.
h) Development proposals which create, expand or enhance opportunities for natural flood risk management and blue-green infrastructure should be supported.
Policy 13: Sustainable flood risk and water management
Q35: Do you agree that this policy will help to ensure places are resilient to future flood risk and make efficient and sustainable use of water resources?
Lifelong health, wellbeing and safety
We want places to support health, wellbeing and safety for all, and to strengthen the resilience of communities.
Places are important for physical and mental health and overall wellbeing. The places where children and young people grow up shape the opportunities that they have and influence the course of their life. The planning system should support development that reduces health inequalities and creates an environment that promotes active and healthier lifestyles.
Policy 14: Health and wellbeing
a) Local development plans should aim to create vibrant, healthier and safe places and should seek to tackle health inequalities particularly in places which are experiencing the most disadvantage. The provision of health and social care facilities and infrastructure to meet the needs of the community should be a key consideration.
b) Development proposals should not be supported where significant adverse health effects are likely to occur. A health impact assessment will be required for all proposed development that is considered likely to generate significant health effects or is within the categories of national developments, or major developments or is EIA development.
c) Development proposals that would have a significant adverse effect on air quality should not be supported.
d) Development proposals that would result in unacceptable levels of noise will not be supported. A noise impact assessment will be required where significant exposure to noise is likely to arise from the proposed development.
e) Development proposals for, or including, space or facilities for local community food growing and allotments should be supported.
Policy 15: Safety
Development proposals in the vicinity of major-accident hazard sites should take into account the potential impacts on the proposal and the major-accident hazard site of being located in proximity to one another. Applications regarding the presence of hazardous substances should take account of the potential impacts on surrounding populations and the environment. Decisions should be informed by, amongst other things, the Health and Safety Executive's planning applications advice (including on hazardous substances consent), and, in relevant cases, that of the Office of Nuclear Regulation. Similar considerations apply in respect of development proposals either for or near licensed explosive sites (including military explosive storage sites).
Policies 14 and 15: Health, wellbeing and safety
Q36: Do you agree that this policy will ensure places support health, wellbeing and safety, and strengthen the resilience of communities?
Land and premises for business and employment
We want our places to support new and expanded businesses and investment, stimulate entrepreneurship and promote alternative ways of working in order to achieve a green recovery and build a wellbeing economy.
Scotland's recovery from COVID-19 provides an opportunity to consider the sort of economy we want to have and to focus efforts on supporting good, green jobs, businesses and industries for the future. Our green economic recovery will support our ambitions to build a wellbeing economy that maximises economic, social and environmental wellbeing for everyone. Planning has a central role to play in achieving these ambitions, and in supporting business, industry and innovation. Economic success will be sustainable and inclusive and support the health and wellbeing of our communities and environment. We want to enable investment that supports the just transition to a net zero, nature-positive economy. As part of this, community wealth building initiatives will help us to strengthen the social and environmental value of future business investment.
Policy 16: Business and Employment
a) Local development plans should set out proposals to meet requirements for employment land, infrastructure and investment in a way which supports a greener, fairer and more inclusive wellbeing economy.
b) Development proposals for business and employment uses in sites allocated for those uses in the local development plan should be supported, provided that environmental impacts have been assessed and considered acceptable. Net economic benefit should be taken into account, in the context of Scotland's ambitions for a wellbeing economy.
c) Development proposals for home-working, live-work units and micro-businesses should be supported where it can be demonstrated that the scale and nature of the proposed business will be compatible with the surrounding area and there will be no unacceptable impacts on neighbouring uses.
d) Development proposals for business, general industrial and storage and distribution uses should be compatible with the primary business function of the area. Other employment uses should be supported where they will not prejudice the primary business function of the area, are compatible with the business/industrial character of the area, and comply with other plan policies.
e) Conditions for site restoration at the end of the period of commercial use should be considered in appropriate instances.
f) Development proposals for business, general industrial and storage and distribution uses outwith areas identified for those uses in the local development plan should be supported where the nature and scale of the activity will be compatible with the surrounding area and there will be no unacceptable impacts on neighbouring uses and the natural environment.
g) Development proposals for business and industrial uses must take into account:
- surrounding residential amenity and sensitive uses;
- population health and wellbeing, including inequalities;
- environmental quality and historic environment assets;
- access, parking and traffic generation and air quality.
Policy 16: Land and premises for business and employment
Q37: Do you agree that this policy ensures places support new and expanded businesses and investment, stimulate entrepreneurship and promote alternative ways of working in order to achieve a green recovery and build a wellbeing economy?
We want our places to inspire people to visit Scotland, and to support sustainable tourism which benefits local people and is consistent with our net zero and nature commitments.
Tourism can bring a wealth of economic, social and cultural benefits to our communities, cities and regions, supporting resilience and stimulating job creation but it is facing a number of challenges including the recovery from COVID-19. The planning system should support the recovery of the tourism sector, ensuring that communities have a share in tourism benefits and that tourism uses are sustainable and safeguard our environmental, cultural and community assets.
Policy 17: Tourism
a) Local development plans should support the resilience of the tourism sector, including by identifying proposals for tourism development which reflect sector driven tourism strategies.
b) Development proposals for new or extended tourist facilities or accommodation, including caravan and camping sites, should be supported in locations that can contribute to the viability, sustainability and diversity of the local economy.
c) Development proposals in areas where existing tourism provision is having adverse impacts on the environment or the quality of life and health and wellbeing of local communities should only be supported if satisfactory measures are proposed to alleviate existing pressures and prevent further adverse impacts.
d) Proposals for huts will be supported where the nature and scale of the activity will be compatible with the surrounding area and the proposal complies with relevant good practice guidance.
e) Development proposals for the reuse of existing buildings for short term holiday letting should not be supported if it would result in:
- an unacceptable impact on the local amenity or character of a neighbourhood or area; or
- the loss of residential accommodation where such loss is not outweighed by local economic benefits.
f) Development proposals that involve the change of use of a tourism-related facility should only be supported if it can be demonstrated that the existing use is no longer viable and that there is no requirement for alternative tourist facilities in the area.
g) Development proposals for tourist facilities should take into account:
- the contribution made by the development to economic prosperity, local employment and community wealth building;
- compatibility with the surrounding area in terms of the nature and scale of the activity and impacts of increased visitors;
- impacts on communities, for example by hindering the provision of homes and services for local people;
- access, parking and traffic generation.
Policy 17: Sustainable tourism
Q38: Do you agree that this policy will help to inspire people to visit scotland, and support sustainable tourism which benefits local people and is consistent with our net-zero and nature commitments?
Culture and creativity
We want our places to reflect and facilitate enjoyment of, and investment in, our collective culture and creativity.
Culture and the creative industries are central to Scotland's health and wellbeing and cultural, social, economic and environmental prosperity and can also be an important catalyst for regeneration and town centre vibrancy that strengthens the sense of place. The planning system should support the expansion of Scotland's creative industries and ensure that there are equitable opportunities available for local communities to participate in artistic and cultural activities.
Policy 18: Culture and creativity
a) Local development plans should recognise and support opportunities for jobs and investment in the creative sector, culture, heritage and the arts.
b) Development proposals should seek to make provision for public art where they involve a significant change to, or the creation of new, public open spaces.
c) Development proposals for creative workspaces or other cultural uses that will utilise the temporary use of vacant spaces or property should be supported.
d) Development proposals should not be supported where they would result in the loss of an arts or cultural venue unless:
- there is no longer a sustainable demand for the venue and after marketing the site through relevant local and national agents and online platforms at a reasonable rate for at least 12 months there has been no viable interest from potential operators; or
- the venue, as evidenced by consultation, no longer meets the needs of users and cannot be adapted; or
- alternative provision of equal or greater standard is made available at a suitable location within the local area; and
- the loss of the venue doesn't result in loss or damage to assets or objects of significant cultural value.
Development proposals within the vicinity of existing arts venues should fully reflect the agent of change principle. They should only be supported where they can demonstrate that measures can be put in place to ensure that existing noise and disturbance impacts on the proposed development would be acceptable and that existing venues and facilities can continue without additional restrictions being placed on them as a result of the proposed new development.
Policy 18: Culture and creativity
Q39: Do you agree that this policy supports our places to reflect and facilitate enjoyment of, and investment in, our collective culture and creativity?
We want our places to support continued expansion of low-carbon and net zero energy technologies as a key contributor to net zero emissions by 2045.
Scotland's energy sector has a significant role to play in reducing carbon emissions and contributing to a green, fair and resilient economic recovery. A wide range of renewable technologies are capable of delivering these benefits, although it is likely that the onshore wind sector will play the greatest role in the coming years. The planning system should support all forms of renewable energy development and energy storage, together with new and replacement transmission and distribution infrastructure. It should also support new and emerging technology including hydrogen and carbon capture utilisation and storage (CCUS).
Policy 19: Green Energy
a) Local development plans should seek to ensure that an area's full potential for electricity and heat from renewable sources is achieved. Opportunities for new development, extensions and repowering of existing renewable energy developments should be supported.
b) Development proposals for all forms of renewable energy and low-carbon fuels, together with enabling works such as transmission and distribution infrastructure, and energy storage such as battery storage, should be supported in principle.
c) Development proposals for wind farms in National Parks and National Scenic Areas should not be supported.
d) Outwith National Parks and National Scenic Areas, and recognising the sensitivity of any other national or international designations, development proposals for new wind farms should be supported unless the impacts identified (including cumulative effects), are unacceptable. To inform this, site specific assessments including where applicable Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA) and Landscape and Visual Impact Assessments (LVIA) are required.
e) Development proposals to repower, extend and expand existing wind farms and for the extension of life to existing windfarms should be supported unless the impacts identified (including cumulative effects) are unacceptable.
f) Development proposals for small scale renewable energy generation technology should be supported.
g) Areas identified for wind farms should be suitable for use in perpetuity. Consents may be time-limited but wind farms should nevertheless be sited and designed to ensure impacts are minimised and to protect an acceptable level of amenity for adjacent communities.
h) Major applications for energy generation from low carbon sources, for manufacturing or industrial developments should be accompanied by a decarbonisation strategy to demonstrate how greenhouse gas emissions from the process are appropriately abated. That strategy may include carbon capture and storage.
i) Proposals for negative emissions technologies and carbon capture should be supported in principle.
j) Development proposals for solar arrays should be supported where the planning authority is satisfied that the arrays would not adversely affect (including the effect of glint and glare) residential amenity, road safety, historic environment assets, or aviation interests. Ground mounted arrays should be installed using pile driven or screw foundations rather than trench foundations to facilitate restoration of the site.
k) Specific considerations will vary relative to the scale of the proposal and area characteristics but development proposals for renewable energy developments must take into account:
- net economic impact, including local and community socio-economic benefits such as employment, associated business and supply chain opportunities;
- the scale of contribution to renewable energy generation targets;
- effect on greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets;
- cumulative impacts – taking into account the cumulative impact of existing and consented energy development;
- impacts on communities and individual dwellings, including visual impact, residential amenity, noise and shadow flicker;
- landscape and visual impacts, including effects on wild land;
- effects on the natural heritage, including birds;
- impacts on carbon rich soils;
- public access, including impact on long-distance walking and cycling routes and scenic routes;
- impacts on historic environment assets, including scheduled monuments, listed buildings and their settings;
- impacts on tourism and recreation;
- impacts on aviation and defence interests including seismological recording;
- impacts on telecommunications and broadcasting installations, particularly ensuring that transmission links are not compromised;
- impacts on road traffic and on adjacent trunk roads;
- effects on hydrology, the water environment and flood risk;
- the need for conditions relating to the decommissioning of developments, including ancillary infrastructure, and site restoration, opportunities for energy storage; and
- the need for a robust planning obligation to ensure that operators achieve site restoration.
Policy 19: Green energy
Q40: Do you agree that this policy will ensure our places support continued expansion of low-carbon and net zero energy technologies as a key contributor to net zero emissions by 2045?
We want our places to be more resource efficient, and supported by services and facilities that help to achieve a circular economy.
The circular economy is a significant economic and environmental opportunity to manage waste and resources in a way that contributes to Scotland's net zero and sustainability ambitions and green recovery. The planning system should support development which reflects the waste hierarchy, prioritising the reduction and reuse of materials, and facilitate the delivery of new infrastructure required to achieve this.
The Scottish Government has commissioned an independent review of the role that incineration plays in Scotland's waste hierarchy. Any emerging outcomes will be taken into account in the finalised version of National Planning Framework 4.
Policy 20: Zero Waste
a) Local development plans should identify appropriate locations for new infrastructure to support the circular economy and meet identified needs in a way that moves waste as high up the waste hierarchy as possible.
b) Development proposals should aim to reduce, reuse, or recycle materials in line with the waste hierarchy. All developments should aim to use materials with the lowest forms of embodied emissions. Materials should be suitable for reuse with minimal reprocessing. The use of previously used, sustainable, local, recycled and natural construction materials that also store carbon, such as timber, is encouraged. Construction and demolition methods should minimise emissions as far as possible.
c) Development proposals within the categories of national and major developments should take into account circular economy principles and aim to reduce, reuse or recycle waste in line with the waste hierarchy. Where appropriate, they should:
- reuse existing buildings and infrastructure;
- minimise demolition and salvage materials for reuse;
- use design and construction measures to minimise waste, reduce pressure on virgin resources and enable building materials, components and products to be disassembled, and reused at the end of their useful life;
- support maintenance, longevity, adaptability and flexibility;
- identify how much waste the proposal is expected to generate and how and where the waste will be managed in accordance with the waste hierarchy, including demonstrating the management of as much waste as possible on site;
- make provision for adequate and accessible storage space and collection systems when the development is operational to support the waste hierarchy, including reuse and recycling;
- set out how performance will be monitored and reported.
d) Development proposals that are likely to generate waste when operational, including residential, commercial and industrial properties, should include provision to maximise waste reduction and waste separation at source, and minimise the cross-contamination of materials, through:
- appropriate segregation and storage of waste;
- appropriate convenient access for the collection of waste; and
- appropriate recycling and localised waste management facilities.
e) Development proposals for waste infrastructure and facilities (except landfill and energy from waste) should be supported where:
- there are no unacceptable impacts (including cumulative) on the residential amenity of nearby dwellings, local communities and historic environment assets;
- environmental (including cumulative) impacts relating to noise, dust, smells, pest control and pollution of land, air and water are acceptable;
- any greenhouse gas emissions resulting from the processing and transportation of wastes to and from the facility are minimised and offset;
- an adequate buffer zone between sites and settlements is provided taking account of the various environmental effects likely to arise;
- a restoration and aftercare scheme (including appropriate financial mechanisms) is provided and agreed to ensure the site is restored in the event of operator failure.
f) Development proposals for new waste infrastructure (except landfill and energy from waste/incineration) should be supported if the proposal is located within an established area suitable for business (class 4), general industrial (class 5) or storage (class 6) and provided they are in line with Scottish Government objectives on waste management to maximise the value of secondary resources to the economy and move waste as high up the waste hierarchy as possible. Consideration should also be given to co-location with end users of outputs to support the establishment of associated industries and businesses to maximise the value of secondary resources where appropriate. Outwith those areas only small scale facilities needing a location accessible to the public will be supported (e.g. bottle banks and deposit return scheme return points).
g) Development proposals for new or extended landfill sites should only be supported where:
- there is a demonstrable need for additional landfill capacity taking into account Scottish Government objectives on waste management; and
- waste heat and/or electricity generation is included. Where this is considered impractical, evidence and justification must be provided.
h) Proposals for the capture, distribution or use of gases captured from landfill sites or waste water treatment plant should be supported.
i) Development proposals which involve the recovery of energy from waste should only be supported where the proposal:
- is in a location identified or supported by the local development plan; and,
- is consistent with climate change mitigation targets and in line with circular economy principles; and,
- can demonstrate that a functional heat network can be created and provided within the site for appropriate infrastructure to allow a heat network to be developed and that wherever possible, potential local consumers have been identified; and
- is supported by a heat and power plan, which demonstrates how energy recovered from the development would be used to provide electricity and heat, including the scope to efficiently distribute heat to sites which have a long-term high heat demand and where consideration is given to methods to improve the sustainability of the facility, such as carbon capture and storage. The accompanying information should account for future and current annual figures of waste infrastructure capacity needs for a variety of technologies (e.g. those produced by SEPA) including thermal treatment infrastructure and that options for alternative technologies that retain the value of materials have been exhausted. It should also account for potential changes in waste composition and demonstrate that it will not prevent waste being moved further up the waste hierarchy; and
- comply with the Thermal Treatment of Waste Guidelines published by SEPA; and
- should supply a decarbonisation strategy aligned with Scottish Government decarbonisation goals and be refused where the strategy is insufficient; and
- deliver demonstrable community benefits if the energy from waste proposal would treat waste from an area wider than the local authority.
Development proposals should not be supported if they would, either directly or indirectly, limit the operation of existing or proposed waste management facilities.
Policy 20: Zero waste
Q41: Do you agree that this policy will help our places to be more resource efficient, and to be supported by services and facilities that help to achieve a circular economy?
We want to support investment in aquaculture and minimise its potential impacts on the environment.
Aquaculture is an increasingly important industry for Scotland, helping to sustain economic success in the rural and coastal communities of the north and west. The planning and licensing system should support the prosperity of the finfish, shellfish and seaweed sectors, including by guiding new development to locations that reflect industry needs and take into account wider marine planning.
Policy 21: Aquaculture
a) Local development plans should guide new aquaculture development to locations that reflect industry needs and take account of environmental impact, including cumulative impacts that arise from other existing and planned aquaculture developments in the area, and wider marine planning.
b) In order to safeguard migratory fish species further salmon and trout open pen fish farm developments on the north and east coasts of mainland Scotland should not be supported.
c) Development proposals for aquaculture should be supported where they comply with the local development plan, the National Marine Plan and, where relevant, the appropriate Regional Marine Plan.
d) Development proposals for fish farm developments should demonstrate that:
- operational impacts (including from noise, acoustic deterrent devices (where applicable) light, access, containment, deposition, waste emissions and sea lice, aquaculture litter and odour) are acceptable and comply with the relevant regulatory framework; and that significant cumulative impacts are appropriately managed;
- the siting and design of cages, lines and associated facilities are appropriate for the location; and,
- the siting and design of any land based facilities are appropriate for the location.
Policy 21: Aquaculture
Q42: Do you agree that this policy will support investment in aquaculture and minimise its potential impacts on the environment?
We want to support the sustainable management of resources and to minimise the impacts of extraction of minerals on communities and the environment.
The extraction and use of minerals makes an essential contribution to the Scottish economy by providing important raw materials for manufacturing, construction, agriculture and other industries. The planning system should safeguard important mineral resources and ensure that sufficient resources are available to meet the demands of industry in a way that minimises the impacts of extraction on the environment and local communities.
Policy 22: Minerals
a) Local development plans should support the 10-year landbank at all times in the relevant market areas, whilst promoting sustainable resource management, safeguarding important workable mineral resources, which are of economic or conservation value, and take steps to ensure these are not sterilised by other types of development.
b) Planning applications that seek to explore, develop and produce fossil fuels (excluding unconventional oil and gas) will not be supported other than in exceptional circumstances. Any such exceptions would need to demonstrate that the proposal is consistent with national policy on energy and targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
c) The Scottish Government does not support the development of unconventional oil and gas in Scotland. This means development connected to the onshore exploration, appraisal or production of coal bed methane or shale oil or shale gas using unconventional oil and gas extraction techniques, including hydraulic fracturing and dewatering for coal bed methane.
d) Extraction criteria: Development proposals for the sustainable extraction of aggregates should be supported where they:
- will not result in adverse impacts on biodiversity and the natural environment, sensitive habitats and the historic environment, as well as landscape and visual impacts;
- provide an adequate buffer zone between sites and settlements taking account of the specific circumstances of individual proposals, including size, duration, location, method of working, topography, and the characteristics of the various environmental effects likely to arise;
- demonstrate acceptable impacts (including cumulative impact) on any nearby homes, local communities and known sensitive receptors and designations;
- demonstrate acceptable levels (including cumulative impact) of noise, dust, vibration and potential pollution of land, air and water;
- minimise transport impacts through the number and length of lorry trips and by using rail or water transport wherever practical;
- have appropriate mitigation plans in place for any adverse impacts;
- include schemes for a high standard of restoration and aftercare and commitment that such work is undertaken at the earliest opportunity. As a further safeguard a range of financial guarantee options are available and the most effective solution should be considered and agreed on a site-by-site basis. Solutions should provide assurance and clarity over the amount and period of the guarantee and in particular, where it is a bond, the risks covered (including operator failure) and the triggers for calling in a bond, including payment terms.
e) Development proposals for borrow pits should be supported where:
- the proposal is tied to a specific project and is time-limited;
- the operator is required to comply with the mineral extraction criteria; and
- appropriate restoration proposals are enforceable.
Policy 22: Minerals
Q43: Do you agree that this policy will support the sustainable management of resources and minimise the impacts of extraction of minerals on communities and the environment?
We want our all of our places to be digitally connected.
Digital connectivity has a central role to play in unlocking the potential of our places and the economy and in opening up more remote parts of Scotland for investment and population growth. This will play an increasingly important role in supporting essential services including healthcare and education. We want to ensure that no areas are left behind by closing the digital divide. The planning system should continue to support the roll-out of digital infrastructure across all of Scotland, ensuring that policies recognise the importance of future-proofing infrastructure provision whilst addressing impacts on local communities and the environment.
Policy 23: Digital Infrastructure
a) Local development plans should support the delivery of digital infrastructure, particularly in areas with gaps in connectivity and barriers to digital access.
b) Development proposals should incorporate appropriate, universal and futureproofed digital infrastructure. This should be done in consultation with service providers.
c) Development proposals that deliver new digital services or provide technological improvements, particularly in areas with no or low connectivity capacity, should be supported. Planning authorities should not question the need for the service to be provided where proposals are clearly aligned with fulfilling the delivery of local or national policy objectives which support the roll-out of digital infrastructure in areas with no or low connectivity where there are benefits of this connectivity for communities and the local economy.
d) Development proposals for telecommunications development should be supported where:
- the visual and amenity impact of the proposed development has been minimised through careful siting, design and where appropriate landscaping;
- it has been demonstrated that all practicable options and alternative sites have been considered, including the possibility of using existing masts, structures and buildings and/or site sharing;
- there is no physical obstruction to aerodrome operations, technical sites or existing transmitter/receiver facilities.
e) Development proposals that are likely to have an adverse effect on the operation of existing digital infrastructure or on the delivery of strategic roll-out plans should not be supported unless appropriate mitigation measures can be provided.
Policy 23: Digital infrastructure
Q44: Do you agree that this policy ensures all of our places will be digitally connected?
City, town, commercial and local centres
We want our places to support low carbon, healthier urban living.
Our cities and towns are a national asset and their centres bring together a wide range of functions and land uses. As a result of long term change, exacerbated by COVID-19, our city, town and local centres are facing significant and serious economic, environmental and societal challenges. The planning system should help them adapt and be vibrant, healthier, creative, enterprising, accessible and resilient places for people to live, learn, work, enjoy and visit and should identify opportunities to enhance town centres. To do this their role at the heart of place based strategies and in supporting 20 minute neighbourhoods must be recognised and supported. Planning should direct development to the most sustainable locations, that are accessible by a range of sustainable transport modes and provide communities with easy access to the goods and services they need.
Policy 24: Centres
a) Local development plans should support sustainable futures for city, town and local centres and identify a network of centres. This should reflect the principles of 20 minute neighbourhoods and the town centre vision, and take into account how they are connected by public transport and walking, wheeling and cycling.
b) Development proposals that improve the vitality and viability of city, town and local centres, including by extending the mix of types of development, should be supported.
Policy 25: Retail
a) Development proposals for retail development which will generate significant footfall in:
- town centre sites should be supported;
- edge-of-town centre or commercial centres, should not be supported unless they are explicitly supported by the development plan;
- out-of-town locations should not be supported.
b) Retail developments (whether new development, expansions or changes of use) should be of an appropriate scale and should have an acceptable impact on the character and amenity of the area. Consideration should be given to the location and design of retail stores, or click-and-collect locker pick up points, to best channel footfall and activity to benefit the place as a whole.
c) Development proposals should not be supported if they contribute to the number and clustering of some non-retail uses, such as hot food takeaways, including permanently sited vans, betting offices and high interest moneylending premises, if the further provision of particular activities would undermine the character and amenity of centres or the health and wellbeing of centres and their communities, particularly in disadvantaged areas.
d) When considering proposals for neighbourhood shopping planning authorities, developers, owners and occupiers should be flexible and realistic in applying the sequential approach, recognising the principles of 20 minute neighbourhoods. Consideration should be given to where a retail proposal will alleviate a lack of convenience goods/fresh healthier food and drink provision, especially in disadvantaged or remoter areas.
e) In islands and rural areas, shops ancillary to other uses, such as farm shops that will help meet demand for fresh produce, craft shops and shops linked to petrol/service/charging stations should be supported. They can serve a useful role, by providing new sources of jobs and services. The lack of public transport in some rural areas should not preclude small scale retail or service developments, where this would serve local needs. In assessing such proposals planning authorities should take account of the potential impact on nearby town and commercial centres or village/local shops; desirability of providing a service throughout the year; and likely impact of traffic generated and access and parking arrangements.
Policy 26: Town centre first assessment
a) Development proposals for other uses which will generate significant footfall (or in the case of drive-throughs, a significant number of visitors) including commercial leisure uses, offices, community and cultural facilities and, where appropriate, other public buildings such as libraries, education and healthcare facilities and public spaces where people can gather, should only be considered acceptable in out-of-centre locations if a town-centre first assessment demonstrates that:
- all town centre, edge of town centre and other commercial centre options have been sequentially assessed and discounted as unsuitable or unavailable;
- the scale of development proposed is appropriate, and that the proposal cannot reasonably be altered or reduced in scale to allow it to be accommodated in a city, town or local centre;
- the impacts on existing town centres have been thoroughly assessed and there will be no significant adverse effect on the vitality and viability of existing town centres; and
- the proposal will not adversely impact on action to tackle climate change by generating significant levels of additional journeys with reliance on the private car and the proposal fully complies with the transport policy on significant travel-generating uses.
b) The town centre-first assessment should identify the potential relationship of the proposed development with the network of centres identified in the development plan. Where possible, developers should agree the data required with the planning authority and present information on areas of dispute in a succinct and comparable form. This should demonstrate the potential economic impact of development and any possible displacement effects including the net impact on jobs. It should also consider supply chains and whether local suppliers and workers will be a viable option and the environmental impact of transporting goods and of staff and visitors travelling to the location.
c) To support the role of town centres in a 20 minute neighbourhood, the town centre first assessment and associated requirements should be applied flexibly and realistically for community, education, health and social care and sport and leisure facilities so that they are easily accessible to the communities that they are intended to serve. Consideration should be given to making more space available for walking, wheeling and cycling as an integral part of this.
Policy 27: Town Centre Living
a) Town centre living should be encouraged and supported. Planning authorities should seek to provide a proportion of their housing land requirements in city and town centres and be proactive in identifying opportunities.
b) Development proposals for new residential development within city/town centres should be supported. If the development is for the reuse of a vacant building it should be demonstrated that the existing use is no longer viable.
c) Development proposals for the conversion, or reuse of vacant upper floors for residential use should be supported.
d) Development proposals for residential use at ground floor level should be supported where the planning authority is satisfied the proposal will:
- retain an attractive and appropriate frontage;
- not adversely affect the vitality and viability of a shopping area or the wider town centre; and
- not result in an undesirable concentration of uses, or 'dead frontages'.
e) Development proposals for city or town centre living should ensure suitable residential amenity can be achieved. This will require careful consideration if the proposed development is in the same built structure as:
- a hot food shop, amusement centre, amusement arcade, casino or licensed premises (with the exception of hotels, restaurants, cafés or off licences); and/or
- there is a common or shared access with licenced premises or other use likely to be detrimental to residential amenity;
If putting forward proposals for new homes in such cases, the onus will be on the developer to clearly demonstrate that suitable residential amenity can be achieved.
Policies 24 to 27: Distinctive places
Q45: Do you agree that these policies will ensure Scotland's places will support low-carbon urban living?
Historic assets and places
We want to protect and enhance our historic environment, and to support the reuse of redundant or neglected historic buildings.
Our historic environment is important to many aspects of life, from defining the character of the places where we live and work, promoting a sense of belonging and cultural identity and encouraging civic participation to supporting the tourist economy. The planning system should protect and enhance historic environment assets and places and recognise their cultural heritage benefits and associated social, environmental and economic value to our national, regional and local economies, cultural identity, and for their potential to support health and wellbeing, the circular economy, and climate change adaptation.
Policy 28: Historic Assets and Places
a) Local development plans and their spatial strategies should identify, protect and enhance locally, regionally, nationally and internationally valued historic assets and places.
b) In considering development proposals and projects with a potentially significant impact on historic assets or places, planning authorities should consider whether further and more detailed assessment is required to establish a shared understanding of the cultural significance of historic assets and places. This should then provide a sound basis for understanding the impact of any proposals for change. Development proposals should also be informed by Managing Change Guidance Notes published by Historic Environment Scotland.
c) Development proposals for the demolition of listed buildings or other works that adversely affect the special interest of a building or its setting should not be supported. This should only be accepted in exceptional circumstances and where it has been adequately demonstrated that all reasonable efforts have been made to retain, reuse and/or adapt the listed building.
d) Development proposals for the reuse, alteration or extension of a listed building should only be supported where its character, special architectural or historic interest and setting are not adversely affected. Development proposals affecting the setting of a listed building should also not adversely affect its character, special architectural or historic interest.
e) Development proposals should preserve or enhance the character and appearance of conservation areas and their settings by means of use, scale and massing, context, high quality design, suitable materials, careful layout and siting. Proposals should have regard to the character of the area as identified in the relevant Conservation Area Character Appraisal/Management Plan (if available) and should respect the density, built form and layout and the architectural and historic character of the area.
f) The demolition of buildings in a conservation area which make a positive contribution to its character should not be supported. Before demolition is considered, reasonable efforts should be made to retain, repair and reuse the building. In some cases, demolition may be considered acceptable, for example, if the building is of little townscape value, if its structural condition rules out its retention at reasonable cost, or if its form or location makes its reuse extremely difficult. In instances where demolition is to be followed by re-development within a conservation area, the consent to demolish should only be considered when there is an acceptable design and materials for the new building.
g) Development proposals should ensure that existing natural and built features which contribute to the character of the conservation area and/or its setting are retained especially structures, boundary walls, railings, trees and hedges.
h) Scheduled monuments are designated to secure their long-term protection in the national interest, in situ and as far as possible in the form they have come down to us. This helps to ensure their long-term protection wherever possible. Development proposals which affect scheduled monuments should only be supported where they avoid direct impacts on scheduled monuments and any adverse impacts upon their setting, unless exceptional circumstances can be demonstrated. Where it has been satisfactorily demonstrated that there are exceptional circumstances, impacts on the monument or its setting should be minimised and mitigated as far as possible. Scheduled Monuments are designated by Historic Environment Scotland (HES) and regulated through their Scheduled Monument Consent process. Development management decisions should also be informed by HES's Scheduled Monument Consents Policy.
i) Development proposals affecting sites within the Inventory of Gardens and Designed Landscapes should only be supported where they protect, preserve and enhance such places and do not impact adversely upon the cultural significance, character and integrity of the site; nor upon important views to, from and within them; nor upon the setting of component features which contribute to their historical, architectural, archaeological, artistic, scenic, horticultural and nature conservation interest.
j) Development proposals affecting sites within the Inventory of Historic Battlefields should protect and, where appropriate, enhance a battlefield's cultural significance, key landscape characteristics, physical remains and special qualities.
k) Development proposals that extend offshore should not significantly hinder the preservation objectives of Historic Marine Protected Areas.
l) Development proposals that affect a World Heritage Site or its setting should only be supported where their Outstanding Universal Value is protected and preserved.
m) Development proposals that sensitively repair, enhance and bring back into beneficial use historic environment assets identified as being at risk should be supported. The Buildings At Risk Register (BARR) should be used to inform and guide decision making and investment within the historic environment and other placemaking activities. Planning authorities with the support of Historic Environment Scotland are encouraged to use the BARR as a focus and catalyst for heritage regeneration, as well as an aid for greater understanding and appreciation of a place's historic environment.
n) Enabling development for historic assets or places that would otherwise be unacceptable, should only be supported where it can be demonstrated that development will secure the future of a historic place or asset at risk of serious deterioration or loss and what is being proposed is the minimum necessary to secure its restoration, adaptation and long term future. The beneficial outcomes for the asset or place should be secured early in the phasing of the development and will be secured through conditions and/or legal agreements.
o) Development proposals should avoid adverse impacts on non-designated historic environment assets, areas and their setting. Where impacts cannot be avoided they should be minimised and mitigated as far as possible. Planning authorities should protect and preserve these resources in situ wherever feasible. Where it has been demonstrated that retention is not possible, excavation, recording, analysis, archiving and publication may be required through the use of conditions or legal obligations.
p) When archaeological discoveries are made in the course of development works, they should be reported to the planning authority to enable discussion on appropriate inspection, recording and mitigation measures.
Policy 28: Historic assets and places
Q46: Do you agree that this policy will protect and enhance our historic environment, and support the reuse of redundant or neglected historic buildings?
Urban edges and the green belt
We want to increase the density of our settlements, restore nature and promote local living by limiting urban expansion and using the land around our towns and cities wisely.
Green belts can be used as a settlement management tool around Scotland's towns and cities to help to direct growth to the most appropriate, sustainable locations. Green belts can have a role in protecting and enhancing the character, landscape and natural setting and identity of settlements, providing outdoor access to green networks which link urban and rural areas and supporting nature networks. A green belt will not be necessary for most settlements, as other policies can provide an appropriate basis for directing development to the right locations, and protecting nature, landscapes and green networks.
Policy 29: Urban edges
a) Local development plans should consider using green belts where appropriate in some of the most accessible or pressured rural or peri-urban areas, where there is significant danger of unsustainable growth in car-based commuting or suburbanisation of the countryside. In such circumstances green belts can provide a more restrictive approach to development, to benefit quality of life and environment in our cities and towns, increase urban density and minimise the need to travel using unsustainable modes. Green belts should be identified or reviewed when preparing plans with detailed boundaries clearly identified.
b) Development proposals within a green belt designated within the local development plan should not be supported unless for:
- development associated with agriculture, woodland creation, forestry and existing woodland (including community woodlands); residential accommodation required and designed for a worker in a primary industry within the immediate vicinity of their place of employment where the presence of a worker is essential to the operation of the enterprise, or retired workers where there is no suitable alternative accommodation available;
- horticulture, including market gardening and directly connected retailing, as well as community growing;
- recreation, outdoor sport, leisure and tourism uses that are compatible with a countryside or natural setting; and developments that provide opportunities for access to the open countryside (including routes for active travel);
- flood risk management (such as development of blue and green infrastructure within a 'drainage catchment' to manage/mitigate flood risk and/or drainage issues);
- development meeting a national requirement or established need, if no other suitable site is available;
- essential infrastructure (such as digital communications infrastructure, telecoms infrastructure, electricity grid connections, transport proposals and travel networks identified in the local development plan, or new cemetery provision), where these cannot be accommodated anywhere other than the green belt;
- minerals operations and renewable energy developments (where located within an identified area of search);
- intensification of established uses, including extensions to an existing building where that is ancillary to the main use;
- the reuse, rehabilitation and conversion of historic environment assets; and
- one-for-one replacements of existing permanent houses currently in occupation.
c) Development proposals in such cases will be required to provide a statement identifying the search area and the site options assessed, where applicable the details of the existing or proposed activity to which the proposal relates, and the reasons as to why a green belt location is essential. The primary consideration will be whether the development could instead be located on an alternative site outwith the green belt. Proposals should also support the qualities of successful places and safeguard historic environment assets and green and blue infrastructure. In particular all such applications should ensure the development:
- does not undermine the purpose of the green belt at that location;
- is fully compatible with the surrounding established countryside and landscape character;
- is of a scale, massing, external appearance, and uses materials that contribute to harmony with the visual character of the green belt;
- has no unacceptable long-term impacts on the environmental quality of the green belt.
d) Proposals on sites in the green belt for other types of development should not be supported.
Policy 29: Urban edges and the green belt
Q47: Do you agree that this policy will increase the density of our settlements, restore nature and promote local living by limiting urban expansion and using the land around our towns and cities wisely?
Vacant and derelict land and empty buildings
We want to proactively enable the reuse of vacant and derelict land and buildings.
The reuse of vacant and derelict land and properties can contribute to climate change targets and support biodiversity, health and wellbeing improvements and resilient communities by providing much needed greenspace, growing spaces and other community benefits. Redevelopment for housing or businesses can also turn an under-utilised and latent asset into productive use and limit the need for urban expansion. The planning system should prioritise the use of vacant and derelict land and properties including supporting appropriate temporary uses where proposals for permanent development are unlikely to be imminent.
Policy 30: Vacant and Derelict Land
a) Local development plans should seek to reuse vacant and derelict land and redundant buildings as a priority including in proposals to creatively and sustainably repurpose buildings and structures.
b) Planning applications for proposals that result in the permanent or temporary reuse of vacant or derelict land and buildings should be supported in principle.
c) Proposals on greenfield sites should not be supported unless the site has been allocated for development or the proposal is explicitly supported by policies in the development plan, and there are no suitable brownfield alternatives.
d) Where land is known or suspected to be unstable or contaminated, development proposals must be able to demonstrate that the land is, or can be made, safe and suitable for the proposed new use.
e) Development proposals for the reuse of existing buildings should be supported, taking into account their suitability for conversion to other uses. Demolition should be regarded as the least preferred option.
Policy 30: Vacant and derelict land
Q48: Do you agree that this policy will help to proactively enable the reuse of vacant and derelict land and buildings?
We want our rural places to be vibrant and sustainable.
Scotland's diverse rural places provide valuable natural resources for key economic sectors, especially food and drink, but also energy, tourism, creative industries and life science whilst each area will face unique locational challenges often centred around depopulation and service provision. The planning system should encourage development that helps to support, sustain and grow rural areas and stimulate a greener, fairer and more inclusive wellbeing economy whilst safeguarding and growing the natural assets that underpin businesses and jobs. Rural economic activity, innovation, and diversification should be encouraged, while ensuring that the distinctive character of the rural area, the service function of small towns and natural assets and cultural heritage are safeguarded and enhanced.
Policy 31: Rural places
a) Local development plans should set out proposals to support the sustainability and prosperity of rural communities and economies. Plans should identify accessible, intermediate and remote areas across the mainland and islands. The spatial strategy should set out an appropriate approach to development in areas of pressure and decline, including proposals for future population growth. It should also be informed by an understanding of population change over time.
b) Development proposals that support the resettlement of previously inhabited areas should be supported where the proposal is consistent with climate change mitigation targets.
c) Development proposals in rural areas should be supported where the development will:
- reflect the development pressures, environmental assets, and economic needs of the area;
- address issues of need for a rural location and are suitably scaled, sited and designed to be in keeping with the rural character of the area;
- reuse a redundant or under used building;
- provide an appropriate use of a historic environment asset or is appropriate enabling development to secure the future of historic environment assets; or
- reuse vacant and derelict land or brownfield where a return to a natural state is not likely; or
- provide affordable housing on a small site that may not normally be used for housing where it can be shown that there is a significant unmet local need for affordable housing; or
- contribute towards sustainable settlements and 20 minute neighbourhoods.
d) Development proposals that contribute to the viability, sustainability and diversity of the local economy should be supported, including:
- diversification of farms, crofts or other land use businesses, where use of good quality land for development is minimised and businesses viability is not adversely affected;
- diversification of existing business;
- production and processing facilities for local produce and materials, for example sawmills, or local food production;
- essential community services;
- critical infrastructure required to support transport or digital connectivity;
- small scale developments that support new ways of working such as remote working, homeworking and community hubs;
- improvement or restoration of the natural environment.
e) Other than in accessible areas, or areas of pressure identified in local development plans, proposals for new homes in rural areas outwith existing rural settlements should be supported, where the proposal:
- is demonstrated to be necessary to support the sustainable management of a viable rural business or croft, and there is an essential need for a worker (including those taking majority control of a farm business), to live permanently at or near their place of work;
- is a single home for the retirement succession of a viable farm holding;
- would involve the subdivision of an existing residential dwelling;
- would represent the appropriate use of a cultural heritage asset or would be appropriate enabling development to secure the future of historic environment assets;
- would reuse redundant or disused buildings or reinstate a former dwelling house; or
- involves redevelopment of derelict land or a brownfield where a return to a natural state is not likely.
f) Development proposals in accessible or pressured rural areas should only be supported where they are consistent with the spatial strategy set out in the local development plan and do not lead to the unsustainable growth in long-distance car-based commuting or suburbanisation of the countryside.
g) Development proposals in remote rural areas, where new development can often help to sustain fragile communities, should be supported where they:
- encourage sustainable development that will provide employment;
- support and sustain fragile and dispersed communities for example through provision of new housing, and digital infrastructure;
- include provision for small-scale housing and other development, taking account of environmental protection policies and addressing issues of location, access, siting, design and environmental impact.
h) Development proposals on prime agricultural land, or land of lesser quality that is culturally or locally important for primary use, should not be supported except where it is essential:
- to meet an established need, for example for essential infrastructure, where no other suitable site is available; or
- for small-scale development directly linked to a rural business, farm or croft; or essential worker for the rural business be able to live onsite; or
- for the development of production and processing facilities, associated with the land produce, where no other local site is suitable; or
- for the generation of energy from a renewable source or the extraction of minerals where this accords with other policy objectives and there is secure provision for restoration to return the land to its former status; and
- can demonstrate that the layout and design of the proposal minimises the amount of good quality land that is required as far as possible.
Policy 31: Rural places
Q49: Do you agree that this policy will ensure that rural places can be vibrant and sustainable?
We want to protect and restore natural places.
Scotland's natural environment underpins our economy, health and wellbeing, biodiversity and climate resilience. We have a shared responsibility to manage our natural assets in a sustainable, regenerative way so they can continue to provide the essential benefits and services upon which people and businesses rely. The planning system should protect, restore and enhance Scotland's natural assets; make best use of nature-based solutions; and actively support our national commitment to reverse biodiversity loss, including by delivering positive effects for biodiversity from new developments and by securing and growing nature networks.
Policy 32: Natural Places
a) Local development plans should identify and protect locally, regionally, nationally and internationally valued natural assets, landscapes, species and habitats. These assets and areas should be safeguarded in the spatial strategy in a way which corresponds with the level of their statutory status. Spatial strategies should also be designed to better connect nature rich areas through establishing and growing nature networks to help protect and restore the biodiversity, ecosystems and natural processes in their area.
b) Development proposals that would have an unacceptable impact on the natural environment including biodiversity objectives should not be supported.
c) Development proposals likely to have a significant effect on an existing or proposed European site (designated as a Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) or Special Protection Areas (SPAs) which is not directly connected with or necessary to their conservation management must be subject to an 'appropriate assessment' of the implications for the conservation objectives. The relevant tests for such developments are set out in legislation.
d) Development proposals that will affect a National Park, National Scenic Area, Site of Special Scientific Interest or a National Nature Reserve should only be supported where the objectives of designation and the overall integrity of the area will not be compromised; or any significant adverse effects on the qualities for which the area has been designated are clearly outweighed by social, environmental or economic benefits of national importance. Planning decisions for development within National Parks must be consistent with the National Parks (Scotland) Act 2000. All Ramsar sites are also European sites and/or Sites of Special Scientific Interest and are extended protection under the relevant statutory regimes.
e) Development proposals that would be likely to have an adverse effect on a protected species should not be supported unless it meets the relevant statutory tests. If there is evidence to suggest that a protected species is present on site or may be affected by a proposed development, steps must be taken to establish their presence. The level of protection afforded by legislation must be factored into the planning and design of the development and any impacts must be fully considered prior to the determination of the application.
f) Where non-native species are present on a site, or where planting is planned as part of a development, developers should take into account legislation on non-native species.
g) Development proposals that affect a site designated as a Local Nature Conservation Site or a Local Landscape Area should be supported where development will not have significant adverse effects on the integrity of the area or the qualities for which it has been identified; or any such effects are clearly outweighed by social, environmental or economic benefits of local importance.
h) Planning authorities should apply the precautionary principle where the impacts of a proposed development on nationally or internationally significant landscape or natural heritage assets are uncertain but there is sound evidence indicating that damage could occur. If there is any likelihood of damage, modifications to the proposal to eliminate the risk of such damage should be considered and implemented. If there is uncertainty, research, surveys or assessments to remove or reduce uncertainty should be undertaken.
i) Development proposals for development in areas identified as wild land (per Nature Scot Wild Land Areas map 2014) should only be supported where:
- the proposed development cannot be reasonably located outside of the wild land area; or,
- it is for small scale development directly linked to a rural business, croft or required to support a fragile population in a rural area; and,
- a site based assessment of any significant effects on the qualities of the areas is undertaken, and use of siting, design or other mitigation minimises adverse impacts.
Policy 32: Natural places
Q50: Do you agree that this policy will protect and restore natural places?
Peat and carbon rich soils
We want to protect carbon rich soils and preserve and restore peat.
Peat and carbon rich soils have a critical role to play in helping to achieve net zero by 2045 through sequestering and storing carbon. They also provide essential ecosystem services for nature, people and our economy and will play a key role in helping us to adapt to future climate change.
Policy 33: Soils
a) Local development plans should protect locally, regionally, nationally and internationally valued soils.
b) Development proposals should only be supported if they are designed in a way that minimises the amount of disturbance to soils on undeveloped land and protects them from damage including erosion or compaction.
c) Development on peatland, carbon rich soils and priority peatland habitat should not be supported unless essential for:
- essential infrastructure, where there is a locational need and no other site is suitable; or
- the generation of energy from a renewable source, where the proposal supports a zero carbon electricity system and will maximise the function of the peatland during its operational life and in decommissioning; or
- small scale development directly linked to a rural business, farm or croft; or
- supporting a fragile population in a rural or island area; or
- restoration of peatland.
A detailed site specific assessment will be required to identify depth, quality and stability of soil and the effects of the development on peatland, including the likely effects of development on CO2 emissions. This should inform careful project design and ensure that adverse impacts, including emissions release, can be avoided and minimised through siting, design and appropriate mitigation. Where an assessment identifies peat onsite, a peatland management plan will be required to demonstrate that any unnecessary disturbance, degradation or erosion has been avoided or minimised, including appropriate mitigation measures. Where peatland /peatland vegetation is displaced this must be reintegrated into a functional peatland system, in accordance with the mitigation hierarchy and relevant biodiversity policies.
d) Development proposals for new commercial peat extraction, including extensions to existing sites, should not be supported, unless:
- the extracted peat is supporting an industry of national importance to Scotland, and
- there is no reasonable substitute; and
- the area of extraction is the minimum necessary and the proposal aims to retain a residual depth of peat of no less than one metre across the whole site; and
- the time period for extraction is the minimum necessary; and the proposal is supported by a comprehensive site restoration plan which will return the area of extraction back to its original environmental status.
Policy 33: Peat and carbon rich soils
Q51: Do you agree that this policy protects carbon rich soils and supports the preservation and restoration of peatlands?
Trees, woodland and forestry
We want to expand woodland cover and protect existing woodland.
Trees and woodland have a critical role to play in helping to achieve net zero by 2045 through sequestering and storing carbon. They also provide essential ecosystem services for nature, people and our economy and will play a key role in helping us to adapt to future climate change and reversing biodiversity loss. Existing woodlands should be protected wherever possible.
Policy 34: Trees, Woodland and Forestry
a) Local development plans should identify and protect existing woodland and potential for its enhancement or expansion to avoid habitat fragmentation and improve ecological connectivity, helping to support nature networks. The spatial strategy should identify and set out proposals for the development of forestry and woodlands in their area, in associated Forestry and Woodland Strategies, including their development, protection and enhancement, resilience to climate change, and the expansion of woodlands of a range of types to provide multiple benefits to the physical, cultural, economic, social and environmental characteristics of the area, in accordance with The Right Tree in the Right Place guidance.
b) Development proposals should not be supported where they would result in:
- any loss of ancient woodlands, ancient and veteran trees, or adverse impact on their ecological condition;
- adverse impacts on native woodlands, hedgerows and individual trees of high biodiversity value or identified for protection in the Forestry and Woodland Strategy;
- fragmenting or severing woodland habitats, unless mitigation measures are identified and implemented;
- conflict with Restocking Direction, Remedial Notice or Registered Notice to Comply issued by the Scottish Government Forestry Regulator, Scottish Forestry.
c) Development proposals involving woodland removal should only be permitted where it would achieve significant and clearly defined additional public benefits. Where woodland is removed in association with development, developers will generally be expected to provide compensatory planting.
d) Where a planning application is proposed which includes an area of existing woodland or land identified as being suitable for woodland creation (under the FWS), opportunities to enhance and expand woodland onsite and integrate it into design, or create new woodlands in accordance with the Forestry and Woodland Strategy in association with development, should be considered.
e) Sustainably managed woodland can bring a range of benefits and planning applications should be supported where they enhance, expand and improve woodland to deliver benefits such as carbon sequestration, improving air quality; enhancing energy efficiency and providing shelter and shade, providing opportunities for woodland play and recreation; improving biodiversity; helping prevent flooding; and other ecosystem services.
Policy 34: Trees, woodland and forestry
Q52: Do you agree that this policy will expand woodland cover and protect existing woodland?
We want to help our coastal areas adapt to climate change and to support the sustainable development of coastal communities.
Scotland's coastal areas and their communities support important economic sectors like tourism, outdoor recreation and food and drink but there is a need to address the long-term resilience of some communities against the impacts of climate change. The planning system should consider the long term impacts of climate change and provide a framework for protecting coastal communities and assets, including the potential for using nature-based solutions to support resilience.
Policy 35: Coasts
a) Local development plan spatial strategies should consider how to adapt coastlines to the impacts of climate change. Plans should recognise that rising sea levels and more extreme weather events resulting from climate change will potentially have a significant impact on coastal and islands areas, and that a precautionary approach to flood risk including by inundation should be taken. An appropriate strategy for development should be set out that reflects the diversity of coastal areas and communities. This should take account of opportunities to use nature-based solutions to improve the resilience of coastal communities and assets.
b) Development proposals that require a coastal location should be supported in areas of developed shoreline where the proposal does not result in the need for further coastal protection measures and does not increase the risk to people of coastal flooding or coastal erosion and is anticipated to be supportable in the long term.
c) Development proposals in undeveloped coastal areas should only be supported if the proposal is necessary to support the blue economy, net zero emissions or if it would contribute to the economic regeneration or wellbeing of communities whose livelihood depend on marine or coastal activities. Proposals should not result in the need for further coastal protection measures, taking into account future sea level change or increase the risk to people of coastal flooding or coastal erosion, including through the loss of natural coastal defences including dune systems. Any such developments should also be designed to have a very short lifespan or be in a location that will remain supportable in the long term.
d) Development proposals for coastal defence measures should be supported if:
- the proposal is consistent with any relevant coastal or marine plans including the National Marine Plan and any Regional Marine Plans, Dynamic Coast maps or local coastal change adaptation plans (shoreline management plans) if available;
- nature-based solutions are utilised and permit managed future coastal change wherever practical;
- any in-perpetuity hard defense measures can be demonstrated to be necessary to protect essential assets.
e) Where a design statement is submitted with any planning application that may impact on the coast it should address any appropriate issues regarding long term coastal vulnerability and resilience.
Policy 35: Coasts
Q53: Do you agree that this policy will help our coastal areas adapt to climate change and support the sustainable development of coastal communities?
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