Scotland 2045 - fourth National Planning Framework - draft: consultation

Draft of Scotland 2045: Our Fourth National Planning Framework: consultation

Part 4 – Delivering Our Spatial Strategy

Delivering our strategy and realising our collective ambitions requires collaborative action from the public and private sectors and wider communities. Actions will range across different scales and include a mix of strategic and project investments. It will be important to focus implementation and monitoring on delivering strategic actions and key developments.

As we refine and work towards a final NPF4 we will work with a range of key partners including Scottish Government portfolios, the Infrastructure Delivery Group, the Scottish Futures Trust, local authorities, the key agencies and others to work up a detailed delivery programme to accompany the final NPF4. Our engagement programme will include a series of workshops to explore delivery in more detail.

We expect that our approach to delivery will draw on the following key delivery mechanisms:

Aligning Resources

A collaborative approach that aligns interests will play a central role in delivering the spatial strategy. We will work with multiple parties to explore opportunities to align existing or planned public sector investment funding to support the delivery of the spatial strategy. We will apply the Place Princple that promotes better joined up actions to deliver improved outcomes for our places. Principly this will be through 'anchor' national programmes and projects outlined in our infrastructure investment plan (IIP) pipeline or those generated through strategic processes such as the second Strategic Transport Projects Review 2 and the City Region Growth Deals. We will also strengthen the approach to targeting investment to the places where it will have the greatest impact and through our place based investment programme. Further information about which strategies and programmes our themes will align with and a list of potential funding programmes is available on our website at Transforming Planning and will be refined as we work on a delivery programme to accompany the final NPF4.

Infrastructure First

A key element of planning reform centres around the need to implement an infrastructure first approach through the planning system. This began with recommendations from the independent review of the planning system (2016) which recognised the need for planning to 'regain confidence' in the delivery of infrastructure, with the need for greater co-ordination and collaboration in infrastructure investment decisions.

We have already made progress towards this by publishing this draft NPF4, which embeds the infrastructure first policy principle into national policy, which will be applied across land use decisions. This policy and forthcoming regulation and guidance will promote the infrastructure first approach through the preparation of local development plans and their associated delivery programmes, which will also implement the changes introduced by the Planning (Scotland) Act 2019. Together, these actions will help strengthen the link between the planning and delivery of infrastructure.

Once these key parts of the new system are in place, further work will be taken forward to support an infrastructure-first approach to the planning system. The Scottish Government will produce new guidance to support innovation to build a more delivery-focused approach to planning. We will also work with partners, including the Scottish Futures Trust and members of the Infrastructure Delivery Group, to identify how planning authorities can be better supported to take full account of infrastructure considerations to inform future development plan spatial strategies.

Once adopted, National Planning Framework 4 will also inform the next iteration of Scotland's Infrastructure Investment Plan, with the spatial priorities guiding future public sector investment.

Delivery of National Developments

Our draft list of national developments have been selected on the basis of their potential to support delivery of the priorities sets out in our national spatial strategy. Many of these projects will be delivered by bringing together public and private sector investors. We will collectively work with key partners to ensure that our final approved list of designated national developments are supported and delivered. Further information about each national development in contained in Part 2.

Development Plan Policy and Regional Spatial Strategies

Scotland's regions, working together, will play a key role in taking forward this strategy. Throughout Scotland places are coming together to develop Regional Economic Strategies underpinning City Region Growth Deals, Regional Economic Partnerships, Regional Land Use Partnerships, and to provide regional input to the Strategic Transport Projects Review 2. Building on this, and by guiding future Regional Spatial Strategies, we will take forward:

Our package of national planning policies (Part 3) which once adopted will be part of the statutory development plan will also help support our strategy. This will improve the predictability and consistency of the Scottish planning system and set a clear direction for planning decisions that will aid delivery of our strategy.

Local development plans and new regional spatial strategies will also play a vital role in delivering the national strategy at a regional and local level. Planning authorities in particular have a pivotal role to play in enabling future investment and transforming our local places to meet our shared national strategic objectives.

New regional spatial strategies can identify areas for future population growth, align with regional economic strategies and identify key sectors and clusters for future development and investment. We expect them to set out a clear place-based spatial strategy that guides future development across different areas of Scotland. This will include identification of networks of regionally significant centres, growth and investment areas and ensuring that future development and infrastructure works with each area's assets and whilst conserving and enhancing nationally and regionally recognised natural and historic areas and assets.

In line with our national planning policies, local development plans have a key role to play, alongside local housing strategies, in taking forward the Minimum All-Tenure Housing Land Requirement for their area to confirm the amount and location of deliverable land for future housing development. This should be informed by an infrastructure first approach and supported by the accompanying local development plan delivery programme setting out who will be responsible for delivering what infrastructure and how it will be funded. Local development plans will also identify proposals for business development and investment as part of the spatial strategy and support a place based approach to future development. Key aspects include identifying networks of centres, protecting and enhancing the natural and historic environment, and highlighting opportunities for the redevelopment of vacant and derelict land and supporting coastal communities. New guidance on local development plans will bridge the gap between our national strategy and implementation at a local level.

A range of other delivery mechanisms can help to support delivery. These include:

  • Local Place Plans. Communities can play an active role in informing the local development plan by identifying their needs, preferences and proposals for new development in their area which supports liveable places. Communities may wish to consider the contribution of local places to economic success, and in particular opportunities for community wealth building. They may also wish to consider the contribution of local place to future development which reflects the strengths, assets and challenges of the community and its local environment. New regulations and guidance on local place plans have been brought forward as a priority as part of our planning reform programme to implement the provisions of the Planning (Scotland) Act 2019.
  • Planning obligations. Planning obligations have a key role to play in mitigating the impacts of development and ensuring proposals are acceptable in planning terms – where the relevant tests are met, this can include contributions to, or provision of, infrastructure. We are taking forward a review of developer contributions to evaluate the effectiveness of existing mechanisms, which will inform our consideration of new approaches, taking into account the powers introduced by the Planning (Scotland) Act 2019 to introduce an infrastructure levy of Scotland.
  • Land assembly. Taking a positive and proactive approach to land assembly, including the use of compulsory purchase powers, can help to achieve planning and placemaking objectives by supporting the delivery of a range of development, infrastructure and regeneration projects in the public interest.
  • Masterplan Consent Areas. We will implement the provisions of the Planning (Scotland) 2019 to introduce new regulations for Masterplan consent areas. Partners will be able propose Masterplan Consent Areas that essentially secure up-front planning permission for development which accords with a detailed scheme. This can be used to support future investment in priority areas. We will consider how the Scottish Government can support the roll-out of masterplan areas in our future work programmes.
  • Investing in the planning service. We recognise that our economic recovery will benefit from a better resourced planning service, and that the recent decline in the capacity of planning authorities needs to be addressed. As a first step, we will bring forward regulations for revised planning fees to help planning authorities to move towards full cost recovery and introduce proportionate, but realistic charging for additional services. We will continue to ensure that additional resources for authorities are linked with performance monitoring and improvement.


The finalised and approved NPF4 will be accompanied by an effective monitoring process. As we work towards an adopted NPF4, we will work with a range of stakeholders to develop an appropriate monitoring programme for NPF4 that allows us to assess progress and take action where required. Monitoring will be required at both a national and local level and needs to be proportionate and effective.

An agreed monitoring programme will need to complement, and potentially combine, wider planning performance work including Planning Performance Frameworks and RTPI work on monitoring outcomes, as well as reflecting national outcomes set out in the National Performance Framework. We will also consider the extent to which monitoring of NPF4 can be linked to the role of the National Planning Improvement Co-Ordinator.

Q54: Do you agree with our proposed priorities for the delivery of the spatial strategy?

Q55: Do you have any other comments on the delivery of the spatial strategy?



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