Town Centre Action Plan: Scottish Government response

Our response to the National Review of Town Centres.

Town Centre First Principle

The main recommendation from the review group is for a 'town centre first principle', a call to central government, local authorities, communities and our institutions to 'put the health of town centres at the heart of decision-making processes'.

The Scottish Government understands this to mean a principle which extends beyond the town centre first planning policy, traditionally associated with Scottish Planning Policy ( SPP) and the associated sequential test applied currently to decide on the location of retail and commercial leisure uses. The review group aspire to a principle which drives public sector investment decisions, aligns policies and targets available resources to prioritise town centre sites and encourages vibrancy and diversity.

The Scottish Government broadly agrees with this view. We envisage that this would be a principle in favour of town centres but not a duty. Rather, it would be about making sure that all public bodies continue to take open, measured and transparent decision-making that takes account of the short, medium and longer term impacts on town centres, recognising that proportionate decision making appropriate to the local circumstances is required.


  • We recognise that a shared understanding and interpretation of a town centre first principle across the public sector will be key to its success. We will work with COSLA to determine how a town centre first principle will work in practice taking account of other government policy and duties on local government.


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