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).

Appendix A. Business and Regulatory Impact Assessment (Partial)

Title of proposal: Draft National Planning Framework 4

Purpose and intended effect

22. The Scottish Government is consulting on a draft fourth National Planning Framework (NPF4). This Partial Business and Regulatory Impact Assessment (BRIA) considers the potential costs and benefits to businesses and other stakeholders arising from the draft proposals, with the objective of using evidence to identify options that best achieve policy objectives while minimising costs and burdens as much as possible.


23. NPF4 will be a long term plan for Scotland that sets out how the Scottish Government's approach to planning and development will help to achieve a net-zero, sustainable Scotland by 2045. Scotland's third National Planning Framework was published in June 2014 and remains in place.


24. NPF4 will set out a long-term spatial strategy and national planning policies for Scotland. Looking ahead to 2045, it aims to refocus the planning system to address the climate emergency and nature crisis, whilst also enabling development to make Scotland: a sustainable place; a liveable place; a productive place; and a distinctive place. This will include:

  • 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;
  • 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;
  • a delivery strategy; and
  • Annex B of the draft NPF4 sets out the MATHLR for each planning authority in Scotland.

25. Legislation requires that, in preparing the revised framework, the Scottish Ministers must—

a) have regard to relevant policies and strategies, including, in particular—
a) any national strategy and action plan for housing prepared by the Scottish Ministers,
b) any infrastructure investment plan prepared by the Scottish Ministers to set out their priorities for the development of public infrastructure,
c) any national transport strategy prepared by the Scottish Ministers,
d) any strategic transport projects review prepared by the Scottish Ministers to set out their priorities for transport investment,
e) the land use strategy prepared under section 57 of the Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009,
f) the programme for adaptation to climate change prepared under section 53 of the Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009,
g) any national strategy in respect of the improvement of air quality prepared by the Scottish Ministers,
h) any land rights and responsibilities statement prepared under section 1 of the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2016,
j) any national strategy or action plan for the ownership or use of land prepared by the Scottish Ministers, and
k) the national marine plan prepared under section 5 of the Marine (Scotland) Act 2010, and

b) have regard to the desirability of—
a) resettling rural areas that have become depopulated,
b) preserving disused railway infrastructure for the purpose of ensuring its availability for possible future public transport requirements, and
c) preserving peatland.

26. NPF4 must also include a statement about how Scottish Ministers' consider that development will contribute to each of the following outcomes:

(a) meeting the housing needs of people living in Scotland including, in particular, the housing needs for older people and disabled people,
(b) improving the health and wellbeing of people living in Scotland,
(c) increasing the population of rural areas of Scotland,
(d) improving equality and eliminating discrimination,
(e) meeting any targets relating to the reduction of emissions of greenhouse gases, within the meaning of the Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009, contained in or set by virtue of that Act, and
(f) securing positive effects for biodiversity.

Rationale for Government intervention

27. The Town and Country Planning (Scotland) Act 1997, as amended, requires Scottish Ministers to review the NPF no later than 23 June 2024 and either, a) revise the NPF; or b) publish an explanation of why they have decided not to revise it. Regardless of timetable considerations, there has been numerous significant changes since the publication of NPF3 that necessitate the need for an updated NPF. These include:

  • Scotland's ambitious targets for addressing climate change demands a fresh approach to how we plan for development and infrastructure, including actively planning future development in a way that helps to achieve zero carbon living that minimises the need to travel by unsustainable modes.
  • The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has made clear the very real threat and heightened risk the climate emergency poses to the planet.
  • The coronavirus pandemic has highlighted how the places where we live and work can make a big difference to our health and wellbeing.
  • We need to anticipate and plan for our changing population to focus more on improved health and wellbeing and a better natural environment for everyone.
  • We must continue to ensure that enough good quality homes are delivered in the right places, alongside the services and facilities that communities need.
  • It is essential that planning supports our green economic recovery in the short term, as well as enabling strategic investment in the long term.


Within Government

28. Responsibility for preparing NPF4 lies within the Planning and Architecture Division of the Scottish Government. A small team has been set up within this Division to undertake the drafting of the document, with input from colleagues across the wider Division who have oversight of individual policy topics. More widely, the views of colleagues throughout the Scottish Government and its Agencies have been sought at key stages of the preparation process, including in the drafting of NPF itself. This included officials responsible for policies covering topics such as the natural and built environment, climate change, transport, housing, etc.

Public consultation – call for ideas

29. Between January and April 2020 the Scottish Government held an open call for ideas to hear views on what Scotland should be like in 2050 and the changes needed to get there. A number of resources were provided to stimulate debate. 350 written responses were received to the call for ideas from a wide range of stakeholders and members of the public. There were also 180 participants at roadshows across the country and 100 people came to drop-in sessions. Some of the main themes that emerged from the call for ideas included:

  • NPF4 is an opportunity to refocus planning on place, by applying approaches including the 20 minute neighbourhood concept, town centre renewal and a stronger emphasis on reusing vacant and derelict land and buildings to achieve multiple benefits for health and wellbeing, as well as climate change.
  • Prioritising policies and proposals that help to reduce climate change causing emissions, through stronger regulation of some types of development and incentivisation of low carbon proposals and infrastructure. This will require some difficult choices to be made to balance wider aims, such as landscape protection, with the continuing expansion of renewable energy technologies.
  • Repositioning our approach to planning for housing to focus less on numbers and more on quality, user needs, place and community infrastructure.
  • Creating certainty for investors whilst providing flexibility to allow the planning system to respond more effectively to market opportunities. NPF4 can support investment that aids short and longer term economic recovery but we will seek to do this in a way that can provide wider benefits for people and places.
  • Explicitly support development that can demonstrate its contribution to a wellbeing economy and fair work. This could include, for example, the introduction of new requirements from investment to secure social and environmental value and the delivery of our Public Health Priorities.
  • Facilitating new ways of working such as remote working, homeworking and community hubs, in line with our emphasis on localism and to help reduce demand for motorised travel.
  • Proactively rebuilding the resilience of rural communities and economies by enabling well designed, sustainable development. This will include policies to strongly support rural investment and diversification and enable the development of essential infrastructure for rural areas, including affordable housing. As part of this we will take into account the specific circumstances of our island communities.
  • Updating our policies specific to key business sectors such as aquaculture, tourism and the creative industries to support expansion in an inclusive and sustainable way.
  • Improving connectivity, internally and externally, by embedding the transport investment hierarchy and supporting the roll-out of digital infrastructure across Scotland.

30. An IIA Screening/Scoping Report accompanied the call for ideas. This noted that a BRIA was to be prepared to assess the likely costs, benefits and risks of any proposed policy changes that may have an impact on the public, private or third sector. However, there were no comments made on this issue in the responses to the call for ideas. This was likely to be because, at that stage, it was unclear what policies would be changed so it was not possible to assess any potential costs and savings.

Public consultation – position statement

31. A Position Statement was published in November 2020. This reflected on the wealth of information received through the call for ideas engagement programme. The Position Statement was intended to inform further discussions around the policies that could be developed to address the issues raised through the call for ideas.

32. The Position Statement signalled a key shift towards a net zero agenda and set out thinking over 4 key themes – Net Zero Emissions, Resilient Communities, Wellbeing Economy and Better, Greener Places. It confirmed that some of the most significant changes that were expected to be explored in the development of NPF4 were:

  • stronger support for sustainable, low and zero carbon developments.
  • a renewed emphasis on design, quality and place.
  • support for development that reduces the need to travel, in line with the concept of 20 minute neighbourhoods.
  • a shift in the way we plan our homes so that we focus on meeting our diverse needs, and improve the quality of our places.
  • new policies to promote an infrastructure-first approach to development at all scales.
  • a new approach to ensure our places work for everyone, and are greener and healthier.
  • enabling development and investment, including inward investment, that improves our collective wellbeing and supports fair work.
  • new policies to address key economic sectors including food and drink, culture and the creative sectors, and tourism.
  • reimagining our city and town centres as a place to live, work and enjoy.
  • prioritising development on vacant and derelict land.
  • support for development that improves the resilience and sustainability of our rural economy and communities.
  • facilitating improvements to our biodiversity and the significant expansion of green infrastructure.

33. The views of stakeholders and the public were sought on the Position Statement. 252 responses were received through the consultation. There was broad support for:

  • the general direction of NPF4 and the ambition for climate change to be the overarching priority;
  • embedding UN Sustainable Development Goals and Scotland's national outcomes;
  • the four key outcomes set out in the Position Statement (Net-Zero Emissions; Resilient Communities; A Wellbeing Economy; and Better, Greener Places);
  • a focus on the Place Principle.

34. Respondents also made a number of general points highlighting the importance of:

  • consistency of approach and of alignment of NPF4 with other plans, strategies and policies including the Climate Change Plan update, the Infrastructure Investment Plan, the National Islands Plan, the National Transport Strategy 2 (NTS2), the Land Use Strategy and Regional Spatial Strategies, and with city/growth deals; and
  • collaborative working across policy delivery areas, including across planning and other sectors and statutory bodies.

35. There were general calls for use of stronger or more robust language setting out clear requirements rather than simply encouraging change. The need for resources was also an issue highlighted across a number of responses, with financing, upskilling and enforcement of planning controls all identified as necessary for delivery.



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