The Planning (Scotland) Act 2019 sets the future structure of Scotland's planning system and forms an important part of our wider planning reforms. The 2019 Act includes a broad range of changes to be made across the planning system including:
- arrangements for the preparation of development plans;
- proactive masterplanning;
- development management procedures and considerations;
- improved experience and influence of communities;
- strengthening enforcement; and
- stronger leadership and resources, alongside improved performance and positive outcomes.
Our commencement of the Act's provisions began in autumn 2019, shortly after it had been passed by the Scottish Parliament and it received Royal Assent. In September 2019, we published the original Transforming Planning in Practice work programme, setting out our proposed staged implementation of the Act alongside some wider aspects of Scotland's planning reform programme.
Under that schedule, most of the changes to our planning system would have been implemented by the end of 2021. However, in spring 2020, much of this work was paused so that we could focus collective efforts on maintaining a functioning planning system during the COVID-19 pandemic, and also so that we could ensure people had the capacity to engage effectively and remain involved in these crucial improvements to our planning system.
Some aspects of the work programme continued to move forward, albeit at a less rapid pace than we had previously intended. For example, it is important to have the new development planning regulations in place alongside the adoption of National Planning Framework 4 (NPF4), now anticipated by summer 2022 after that had also been held up last year. So that new local development plans can proceed as soon as possible afterwards, we have maintained work on this and will be ready to consult soon. And we were determined to progress those provisions of the 2019 Planning Act which will help people to be involved in shaping the future of their areas, to reduce conflict and to build public trust in planning.
We remain committed both to completion of the full package of planning reforms, and to doing so in close collaboration with planning stakeholders and following thorough public consultation.
In this refreshed Transforming Planning in Practice work programme, we update on progress so far in the implementation of the Planning (Scotland) Act 2019 and other aspects of planning reform, and provide a new schedule for the remaining aspects of the work to reform Scotland's planning system. We hope stakeholders will find this helpful, to inform their own forward work plans.