Scottish planning policy

Policy statement on how nationally important land use planning matters should be addressed across the country.

Annex A - Town Centre Health Checks and Strategies

Town centre health checks should cover a range of indicators, such as:


  • retailer representation and intentions (multiples and independents);
  • employment;
  • cultural and social activity;
  • community activity;
  • leisure and tourism facilities;
  • resident population; and
  • evening/night-time economy.

Physical environment

  • space in use for the range of town centre functions and how it has changed;
  • physical structure of the centre, condition and appearance including constraints and opportunities and assets;
  • historic environment; and
  • public realm and green infrastructure.


  • vacancy rates, particularly at street level in prime retail areas;
  • vacant sites;
  • committed developments;
  • commercial yield; and
  • prime rental values.


  • pedestrian footfall;
  • accessibility;
  • cycling facilities and ease of movement;
  • public transport infrastructure and facilities;
  • parking offer; and
  • signage and ease of navigation.


  • attitudes, perceptions and aspirations.

Town centre strategies should:

  • be prepared collaboratively with community planning partners, businesses and the local community;
  • recognise the changing roles of town centres and networks, and the effect of trends in consumer activity;
  • establish an agreed long-term vision for the town centre;
  • seek to maintain and improve accessibility to and within the town centre;
  • seek to reduce the centre's environmental footprint, through, for example, the development or extension of sustainable urban drainage or district heating networks;
  • identify how green infrastructure can enhance air quality, open space, landscape/settings, reduce urban heat island effects, increase capacity of drainage systems, and attenuate noise;
  • indicate the potential for change through redevelopment, renewal, alternative uses and diversification based on an analysis of the role and function of the centre;
  • promote opportunities for new development, using master planning and design, while seeking to safeguard and enhance built and natural heritage;
  • consider constraints such as fragmented site ownership, unit size and funding availability, and recognise the rapidly changing nature of retail formats;
  • identify actions, tools and delivery mechanisms to overcome these constraints, for example improved management, Town Teams, Business Improvement Districts or the use of compulsory purchase powers[132]; and
  • include monitoring against the baseline provided by the health check to assess the extent to which it has delivered improvements.

More detailed advice on town centre health checks and strategies can be found in the Town Centre Masterplanning Toolkit.



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