APRS’s campaigning has lead to some key improvements for green belt protection in the latest planning law. In this blog Nikki Sinclair, our Green Belts Alliance Manager explains what the new planning framework means for communities campaigning on planning and for protection of green belts.
The Scottish Government adopted the National Planning Framework 4 in February 2023. The Framework is a long-term plan, looking to 2045, to guide spatial development, set out national planning policies, designate national developments and highlight regional spatial priorities. It also includes housing targets for each planning authority area. It brings in a bold change in the approach for planning and gives the basis for planning decisions a stronger focus on cutting carbon emissions and enhancing biodiversity.
After APRS’s involvement in its lengthy consultation process we are supportive of many aspects of NPF4 (eg Green Belt policy 8; Brownfield policy 9; and the priority given to the climate and nature crises) but remain disappointed that our call for new National Parks to be included as a National Development went unheeded – despite the benefits of National Parks being recognised in the spatial strategy. In addition we are very aware that effective implementation of NPF4 will require additional resources and expertise.
In a major change NPF4 became part of the Development Plan (alongside adopted local development plans) on 13 February 2023 so any planning decisions taken on or after that date must be taken on that basis. The Scottish Government’s Chief Planner has set out transitional arrangements for implementing NPF4 in a letter available on the Scottish Government website. This notes that NPF3, and Scottish Planning Policy (SPP 2014) are superseded and should not be taken into account in planning decisions. Also, importantly for areas in the wider Aberdeen, Glasgow and Edinburgh areas, Strategic Development Plans cease to have any effect.
In due course APRS will update our planning resources including the Advice Notes to reflect the changes to the planning system.