Fourth National Planning Framework: position statement

This Position Statement sets out the Scottish Government's current thinking on the issues that will need to be addressed when preparing Scotland's fourth National Planning Framework (NPF4).

A plan for Scotland in 2050

We are preparing a new spatial plan for Scotland that will look ahead to 2050 to set out where future development can bring benefits for people, the economy and environment. The fourth National Planning Framework (NPF4) will show what Scotland, as a place, could and should look like in 2050. It will include national planning policies, providing a clear and coherent plan for our future development. And it will have the status of development plan, informing day to day planning decisions.

NPF4 will embed the UN Sustainable Development Goals[1] and Scotland’s national outcomes[2]. The Place Principle[3] will be a key driver for ensuring that planning focuses on our places, and is supported by a much wider range of interests to ensure that proposals and policies are delivered on the ground.

No decisions have been made yet. At this stage we have taken stock of what we have learned so far about the priorities for NPF4, and set them out in this Position Statement. Much of our thinking is informed by views and ideas we received from our initial engagement in early 2020. Over the year ahead we will continue to work collaboratively with a wide range of stakeholders to further develop these proposals. We expect to lay the draft NPF4 in the Scottish Parliament in autumn 2021, and will consult publicly on our fuller proposals at that stage. NPF4 will be presented digitally as part of a new spatial data platform.

This Position Statement sets out our current thinking to inform further discussions on the content of a draft revised framework for consultation. It aims to support those discussions and is not, in itself, a document setting out policy. Statements in this Position Statement as to what the content of a revised National Planning Framework will contain should be read in that context. The final content of NPF4 will only be established following consultation and consideration, and approval, of the draft revised framework by the Scottish Parliament.

The current National Planning Framework (NPF3) and Scottish Planning Policy remain in place until NPF4 is adopted by Ministers.

Outcomes for 2050

The long-term strategy will be driven by the overarching goal of addressing climate change. We must play our full part in tackling the global climate emergency by reducing greenhouse gas emissions in line with our legal targets. Many places are already vulnerable to the impacts of climate change and we must build future resilience by making better choices. This can also improve our places.

We currently expect that NPF4 will focus on achieving four key outcomes:

  • Net-Zero Emissions
  • A Wellbeing Economy
  • Resilient Communities
  • Better, Greener Places

In line with ongoing planning reform, we will also do more to ensure our national spatial strategy and policies will be delivered. Alignment with the Infrastructure Investment Plan, and our response to the recommendations of the Infrastructure Commission for Scotland, will be key to achieving this.

To open up wider conversations to further inform the future draft NPF4, this statement considers each of these outcomes in turn. Each section reflects views we have heard so far, emerging spatial priorities, and potential policy changes.



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