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March 8, 2022

Community voice in NPF4

There are some aspects of public policy, irrespective of their relative importance, that just sound dry and inaccessible to the general public. For instance, regular readers will be familiar with my constant references to the Local Governance Review and may already be stifling that yawn. Another that falls into this unfortunate category is the National Planning Framework 4. Nonetheless NPF4 is hugely important and will shape much of what happens in Scotland over the next 10 years. Planning Democracy have done a power of work to encourage communities to respond to the consultation by 31st March, culminating in this excellent guide.

Planning Democracy

Why have we produced this guide?

The Fourth National Planning Framework (NPF4) is an important document, it will affect planning decisions for the next 10 years. People have told us it is not easy to find the time to respond to this high level long and complicated Government consultation, so we have devised this guide to try to help you. 

We have drawn on other’s expertise to provide suggested answers to many of the questions as such it reflects the voice of some environmental organisations as well as Planning Democracy. 

Why we need you to respond to the consultation on draft NPF4.

Because the environment and communities need a stronger voice in the planning world!

Together we need to motivate the Scottish Government to strengthen the draft document for more just and sustainable planning decisions. 

The finished NPF4 is expected to be published in summer 2022, after approval by the Scottish Parliament. NPF4 will guide planning decisions and local plans for the next decade. 

Getting the wording right for future planning policies is crucial in ensuring decision makers, including local authority planners, councillors and Scottish Government Reporters are given a clear steer to make the best decisions. 

Tackling key issues such as climate change and biodiversity loss are aspirations clearly voiced in this document, but which are not necessarily going to be achieved unless we strengthen some of the policies to make requirements more robust and reduce the number of get out clauses. 

Continuous economic growth is not possible, we live on a planet with finite limited resources. We don’t want developments to be given permission just because development itself stimulates the economy.

We have to start to limit development so that we don’t continue to use up the Earth’s precious resources. We need to learn to do more with less and consider reusing and refurbishing buildings, whilst conserving precious land and consuming less.

A transformative planning system shifts from the belief in continuous economic growth to

acknowledging that growth of itself is not necessary for well-being. This means NPF4 needs to balance ‘enabling’ good development, with the prevention of unsustainable developments. 

Currently the focus is on the former, the latter needs a lot more work.  In essence we are urging the government to use NPF4 to enable planning to act as a regulator, as well as an enabler of public interest development.

Planning Democracy’s Guide for Communities responding to the consultation on the draft National Planning Framework