APRS Resources

Planning Resources

This resource provides information on development planning across Scotland and gives links to the websites containing planning information for particular areas.

Purpose of Planning

The Planning (Scotland) Act 2019 states that the purpose of planning is “to manage the development and use of land in the long term public interest”. Anything which contributes to sustainable development or achieves Scotland’s national outcomes is considered to be in the long term public interest.
Readers may be interested to read the APRS Advice Note on planning which gives a broad overview of all aspects of the planning system in Scotland and can be found here.

A previous version of the advice note is available here but please note this was issued before recent changes to the planning system.

National Planning Framework

The National Planning Framework (NPF) is the long-term strategic spatial plan for Scotland. It sets out the main developments which the Scottish Government (SG) wants to see, and where they should take place across Scotland. The current NPF4, adopted in February 2023, can be read here. More information about the changes associated with NPF4 are on the Transforming Planning website at: National Planning Framework – A Spatial Plan for Scotland to 2045

National Planning Policy

NPF4 includes new National Planning Policy (replacing the previous Scottish Planning Policy (SPP) dating from 2014). It sets out the SG’s top-level national planning policies indicating which types of development and use of land should and should not be permitted. The National Planning Policy is contained in Part 2 of NPF4.

Development Plans

Following the adoption of NPF4 on 13 February 2023, the Development Plan for anywhere in Scotland is made up of the Local Development Plan (LDP) for that area (produced by local planning authorities – Councils or National Park Authorities) and NPF4. This means that planning applications should be assessed against the policies and strategy set out in both these documents.

Regional Spatial Strategies

Prior to the introduction of NPF4, four areas of Scotland – the regions around the four main cities of Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Dundee – were covered by Strategic Development Plans (SDPs). Now that NPF4 is in place SDPs are no longer in force. All areas of Scotland are to be covered by Regional Spatial Strategies (RSS) which groups of planning authorities can produce jointly if they wish. In 2023 indicative RSS have been produced but not yet consulted on. New LDPs must have regard to relevant RSS but the RSS are not part of the Development Plan.

Local Development Plans

Local Development Plans (LDPs) cover every local planning authority across Scotland. These allocate sites for development and for protection and set out detailed policies to guide planning decisions alongside NPF4. The system for LDPs is changing and more details will be added here soon. Information on each area’s LDP and any ongoing review process can be found at these links:

National Parks

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