Scotland 2045: fourth National Planning Framework - draft: partial business and regulatory impact assessment

This report considers the likely cost and benefits to businesses and the third sector of introducing the draft National Planning Framework 4 (NPF4).


National Planning Framework 4

1. The Scottish Government is reviewing its National Planning Framework (NPF), a long term plan for Scotland that sets out how our approach to planning and development will help to achieve a net zero, sustainable Scotland by 2045.

2. The NPF4 spatial strategy will set out where the Scottish Government wants to see development located in the future, and will explore how each part of Scotland can play to its strengths to contribute to a shared national vision. It will also include national planning policies to guide local development plans and decisions on planning applications across Scotland. Finally, NPF4 will also designate certain developments or classes of development as 'national developments' for which the Scottish Ministers have established a need in principle.

3. NPF4 will align with the Scottish Government's wider programmes and strategies, including on infrastructure and economic investment, and will address the following high level outcomes:

  • Meeting the housing needs of people living in Scotland including, in particular, the housing needs for older people and disabled people;
  • Improving the health and well-being of people living in Scotland;
  • Increasing the population of rural areas of Scotland;
  • Improving equality and eliminating discrimination;
  • Meeting any targets relating to the reduction of emissions of greenhouse gases; and
  • Securing positive effects for biodiversity.

4. The current National Planning Framework (NPF3) and Scottish Planning Policy were published in 2014 and will remain in place until a fourth NPF is adopted.

What is a Business and Regulatory Impact Assessment?

5. A Business and Regulatory Impact Assessment (BRIA) looks at the likely costs, benefits and risks of any proposed primary or secondary legislation. It also covers voluntary regulation, codes of practice, guidance, or policy changes that may have an impact on the public, private or third sector.

6. The BRIA explains:

  • the reason why the Scottish Government is proposing to intervene;
  • options the Scottish Government is considering, and which one is preferred;
  • how and to what extent new policies may impact on Scottish Government, business and on Scotland's competitiveness;
  • the estimated costs and benefits of proposed measures.

What is Integrated Impact Assessment and how is this being undertaken?

7. A range of Impact Assessments have informed the draft NPF4. Where possible we have integrated these assessments into the plan preparation process. We have also co-ordinated evidence gathering and assessment stages where relevant, sharing information and links between the different assessment topics and making connections.

The assessment approach

8. It is considered best practice to complete a BRIA as part of the policy making process, with the content of a BRIA proportionate to the policy matters to be addressed. In keeping with this, the IIA Screening/Scoping report[1] (2020) noted that a BRIA would be undertaken to assess costs, benefits and risks that may arise as a result of policy changes included in NPF4.

9. The NPF4 Call for Ideas and subsequent consultation on the NPF4 Position Statement have provided opportunities to build up an evidence base on the potential impacts of the draft NPF4.

10. This Partial BRIA accompanies the draft NPF4 and highlights some of the areas where there are likely to be impacts. We will work with stakeholders in parallel with the consultation process for the draft NPF4 to identify the likely costs and benefits of the proposed framework as a whole. Paragraphs 66 and 67 below sets out how this will be done.

11. Once completed, the BRIA will be approved by Ministers and published alongside the adopted NPF4.

Previous consultation and engagement

12. Previous consultations invited comments from respondents on the proposed IIA preparation process, including issues that should be included in the BRIA. There were no specific comments from industry about the likely costs and benefits of the draft NPF4, although some responses alluded to possible impacts more generally. This may have been due to the early stage of policy development at the time of the consultations, although it is generally indicative of past consultations where industry will initially prioritise commenting on specific policy issues rather than focussing on the likely costs and benefits that changes of policy will have on the sector.

Summary of assessment findings

13. The National Planning Framework (NPF) is a long-term plan for Scotland that sets out where development and infrastructure is needed to support the Scottish Government's policy priorities and strategies. There are three distinct sections included in the draft and each of these have been considered separately for their likely impacts on businesses and other stakeholders:

  • a spatial strategy – where development and investment need to happen;
  • identification of national developments – strategic proposals that will support the delivery of the spatial strategy; and
  • policy detail – the detailed planning policies for use in day-to-day decision making that collectively provide a policy framework to meet the strategy intentions that will be consistently applied across Scotland.

14. The draft NPF4 also includes a delivery strategy that will be developed into a standalone, live delivery programme once NPF4 has been approved and adopted; and an Annex which includes the Minimum All-Tenure Housing Land Requirement (MATHLR) for each planning authority in Scotland.

15. The proposals set out in NPF4 are considered necessary to ensure that the planning system more effectively contributes to key societal challenges, including the climate emergency and nature crisis. The priorities represent an update from previous policies and, in places, represent a significant shift from current practice. Our initial high level assessment suggests the following effects are likely:

  • the proposed national spatial strategy sets out a high level vision of how Scotland should develop to 2045. The impact of the strategy on individual businesses is likely to arise through the identification of national developments and development management policies that are being put in place to support the spatial strategy;
  • national development status will give greater certainty to developers because it establishes the need for the development, although additional costs may be associated with progressing proposals through the planning system;
  • the introduction of national planning policies which form part of the development plan will provide greater certainty to developers and considerably reduce the number of occasions where they will need to engage with the planning system on the development of policies that affect their businesses;
  • there are significant changes proposed throughout the development management policies in draft NPF4, both in relation to the existing Scottish planning policies and those which are currently in local development plans. The changes are intended to ensure that future development contributes to Scottish Government's objectives for the planning system. Some of these policies will impact on businesses (both positively and negatively) and views will be sought on the extent of these impacts, both individually and cumulatively, before the BRIA is finalised;
  • the delivery programme will aim to secure a cross-government approach to the delivery of NPF4 that is unlikely to result in cost burdens for businesses; and
  • Annex B of Part 5 of the draft NPF4 sets out the Minimum All-Tenure Housing Land Requirement for each planning authority in Scotland. This is included to meet the requirement of Section 3A(3)(d) of the Town and Country Planning (Scotland) Act 1997 and will have particular relevance for housebuilders.

What monitoring is proposed?

16. The Scottish Government has committed to working 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 will be proportionate and effective.

17. An agreed monitoring programme will complement, and potentially combine, wider planning performance work including Planning Performance Frameworks and Royal Town Planning Institute work on monitoring outcomes, as well as reflecting national outcomes set out in the National Performance Framework[2].

Next steps

18. The consultation on draft NPF4 closes on 31 March 2022. Following the consultation and the end of the Parliamentary scrutiny process, we will analyse the responses and produce a final NPF4. The final adoption date will depend on the approval of NPF4 by the Scottish Parliament, but we are currently aiming to lay a finalised version for approval by summer 2022.

How to comment

19. Details on how to comment can be found on the Scottish Government's Consultation Hub, Citizen Space at You can also request a hard copy of this report and consultation documents at

20. If you are unable to respond using our consultation hub, please complete a Respondent Information Form and return it, together with your response to or by mail to:

National Planning Framework Team
Planning and Architecture Division
Area 2F South
Victoria Quay

21. Consultees may wish to consider the following consultation question:

Q 70: Do you have any comments on the Partial Business and Regulatory Impact Assessment?



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