"Scotland in 2045 will be different” – two perspectives on the draft NPF4

24 Nov 21

The Fourth National Planning Framework (NPF4) is a long-term spatial plan for Scotland that sets out national planning policies, regional spatial priorities and designates developments of national importance. Following extensive consultation, NPF4 will be approved by the Scottish Parliament and adopted by Scottish Ministers to replace the NPF3 and Scottish Planning Policy (2014).

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The Fourth National Planning Framework (NPF4) is a long-term spatial plan for Scotland that sets out national planning policies, regional spatial priorities and designates developments of national importance. Following extensive consultation, NPF4 will be approved by the Scottish Parliament and adopted by Scottish Ministers to replace the NPF3 and Scottish Planning Policy (2014). In turn, NPF4 will become part of the statutory development plan and directly influence national, regional and local planning policy.

Some of our Scottish Planners share their thoughts on the draft:

Lyndsay Macleod (Assistant Planner):

NPF4 promotes a nature-positive, holistic planning process and for the first time, designates statutory planning policy to the ‘Global Climate Emergency’.

Planning is inherently spatial, so it is encouraging that NPF4 includes visionary, integrative, inclusive and action-orientated policies for future development. Most notably, themes of sustainability and climate adaptation permeate the Spatial Strategy but also, form the basis of transformative statutory policies, discourse and language throughout.

Statutory policies support the creation of ‘Sustainable’, ‘Liveable’, ‘Productive’ and ‘Distinctive’ places which are designed to limit and control greenbelt development and instead promote sustainable, local living. Such policies exist alongside a new minimum 10-year ‘Housing Land Requirement’ for each planning authority, which is another ‘first’ for national statutory planning policy.

It is clear NPF4 policies will not only influence decision-making, but aim to radically transform future development towards creating a greener, more sustainable Scotland.

Ian Gallacher (Director):

Have we really had three NPFs already? To most of us in the development industry I would suggest that NPF4 appears to be more relevant to what we all do in our day to day jobs – whether that be in the private or public sector. The main reason for this, as Lyndsay suggests, is the fact that it will now form part of the Development Plan.

Previously, they were seen more as nice glossy documents with impressive maps and arrows talking about inward investment, National projects (there are now 18 in this draft) and a general aim of pursuing sustainable development. NPF4 still includes some of these themes, particularly the impressive maps, albeit does now have a lot more content that the development industry should sit up and take note of.

It is a 129 page document, so trying to summarise it into a couple of paragraphs is not something I can do as well as Lyndsay in her section above. All I would suggest is that as a development industry we do engage with this and respond to the Scottish Government draft document. Whether you are interested in the delivery of housing development, urban or rural locations, net zero, reuse of vacant buildings and sites, community engagement (and empowerment)…and much more, you should be interested in what it says.

If you are interested in engaging with the NPF4 draft consultation, or would just like to discuss it more generally then please do get in touch (deadline for representations is 31 March 2022). Our Edinburgh and Glasgow offices would be happy to assist.

Lyndsay Macleod Assistant Planner,Planning

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