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).

Sectors and groups affected

All Options


50. NPF4 will be a high level document likely to impact on all business sectors across Scotland who are likely, in the future, to engage with the planning system through the submission of planning applications. It will influence how decisions on such applications are made. The most significant impacts will be on those business that are dependent on the planning system for identifying new sites for their ongoing operations. This will, in particular, include housebuilders, the renewable energy sector, digital network providers, tourism and culture, and the minerals and aquaculture sectors.

51. The move away from individual local policies in each local authority area, towards national planning policies, will provide greater certainty to developers. This will also 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. The impact of specific policies on their businesses may therefore be magnified compared to previous arrangements.

52. Proposals can also directly impact business where the draft NPF4 designates a proposal as a national development. Where the development is consented through the planning system, the prospective applicant is required to undertake additional consultation before applying (pre-application consultation) for planning permission. Where developments are subject to other consenting regimes, for example for energy and transport, NPF is a material consideration. In some instances further procedures, including parliamentary consideration, can be triggered by national development status.

Local authorities

53. Local authorities are also affected in that they are required to take account of NPF4 in preparing local development plans. Previously, those plans would include planning policies specific to the development plan area. However, the intention is to replace most local policies with national planning policies that apply across Scotland. This will free up time and resources for local authorities to focus on spatial elements in their development plans.

54. Housing is critical to a wide range of socio-economic issues. Experience of the pandemic has highlighted the importance of quality homes in quality places. There is therefore a need to focus on accelerating delivery and improving the quality of homes and places. This can be supported by introducing a long-term, strategic and public interest approach that clearly, consistently and transparently establishes the housing land requirement much earlier in the plan preparation process. The Planning (Scotland) Act 2019 requires that the National Planning Framework contain "targets for the use of land in different areas of Scotland for housing". To meet this, Annex B of draft NPF4 proposes a Minimum All-Tenure Housing Land Requirement (MATHLR) for each planning authority in Scotland. This can help to streamline local development planning and free up resources, and can provide greater certainty, with potential benefits for local authorities, communities and businesses.

55. Where a national development is designated within a local authority area there are additional requirements on the processing of any associated application for planning permission, including pre-application consultation and pre-determination hearings.


56. NPF4 will impact on communities as it will influence the future development of the places where people live. In addition, those community bodies which are preparing Local Place Plans will be required to have regard to the NPF in preparing such plans.

57. The designation of a proposal as a national development will require enhanced scrutiny in the planning system. Primarily this will require the prospective applicant to undertake pre-application consultation with the community in advance of submitting a planning application.

Public Bodies

58. The Scottish Government has set a target of net zero emissions by 2045, and must make significant progress towards this by 2030. This will require new development and infrastructure across Scotland. This has the potential to impact on the decisions, plans and strategies made by infrastructure providers in the areas of flood management, housing, transport and education, as examples.



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