APRS Resources

NPF4 Green Belt Policies

This is an extract from the Scottish Government’s National Planning Framework 4, Part 2 – National Planning Policy. It is the section of policies related to Green Belt. You can read the whole NPF4 online

Policy Intent:

To encourage, promote and facilitate compact urban growth and use the land around our towns and cities sustainably.

Policy Outcomes:

  • Development is directed to the right locations, urban density is increased and unsustainable growth is prevented.
  • The character, landscape, natural setting and identity of settlements is protected and enhanced.
  • Nature networks are supported and land is managed to help tackle climate change.

Local Development Plans:

LDPs should consider using green belts, to support their spatial strategy as a settlement management tool to restrict development around towns and cities.

Green belts will not be necessary for most settlements but may be zoned around settlements where there is a significant danger of unsustainable growth in car-based commuting or suburbanisation of the countryside.

Green belts should be identified or reviewed as part of the preparation of LDPs. Boundary changes may be made to accommodate planned growth, or to extend, or alter the area covered as green belt. Detailed green belt boundaries should be based on evidence and should be clearly identified in plans.

Policy 8

a) Development proposals within a green belt designated within the LDP will only be supported if:

i) they are for:

  • development associated with agriculture, woodland creation, forestry and existing woodland (including community woodlands);
  • residential accommodation required and designed for a key worker in a primary industry within the immediate vicinity of their place of employment where the presence of a worker is essential to the operation of the enterprise, or retired workers where there is no suitable alternative accommodation available;
  • horticulture, including market gardening and directly connected retailing, as well as community growing;
  • outdoor recreation, play and sport or leisure and tourism uses; and developments that provide opportunities for access to the open countryside (including routes for active travel and core paths);
  • flood risk management (such as development of blue and green infrastructure within a “drainage catchment” to manage/mitigate flood risk and/or drainage issues);
  • essential infrastructure or new cemetery provision;
  • minerals operations and renewable energy developments;
  • intensification of established uses, including extensions to an existing building where that is ancillary to the main use;
  • the reuse, rehabilitation and conversion of historic environment assets; or
  • one-for-one replacements of existing permanent homes.


ii) the following requirements are met:

  • reasons are provided as to why a green belt location is essential and why it cannot be located on an alternative site outwith the green belt;
  • the purpose of the green belt at that location is not undermined;
  • the proposal is compatible with the surrounding established countryside and landscape character;
  • the proposal has been designed to ensure it is of an appropriate scale, massing and external appearance, and uses materials that minimise visual impact on the green belt as far as possible; and
  • there will be no significant long-term impacts on the environmental quality of the green belt.

Policy impact:

  • Just Transition
  • Conserving and recycling assets
  • Local living
  • Compact urban growth
  • Rebalanced development
  • Rural revitalisation

Key policy connections:

  • Tackling the climate and nature crises
  • Climate mitigation and adaptation
  • Biodiversity
  • Natural places
  • Forestry, woodland and trees
  • Historic assets and places
  • Brownfield, vacant and derelict land and empty buildings
  • Energy
  • Sustainable transport
  • Design, quality and place
  • Local Living and 20 minute neighbourhoods
  • Infrastructure first
  • Quality homes
  • Rural homes
  • Blue and green infrastructure
  • Play, recreation and sport
  • Flood risk and water management
  • Digital infrastructure
  • Business and industry
  • Rural development
  • Retail
  • Tourism
  • Minerals
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