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November 15, 2022

Mixed bag

Important moment last week with the publication of the latest draft of the fourth National Planning Framework. This is the high level, overarching point of reference for all planning decisions going forward and is an expression of where the Scottish Government’s planning priorities lie. On a quick inspection it seems strong on climate and biodiversity, lots of positive noises about moving towards the much vaunted wellbeing economy with an emphasis on community ownership and, the latest zeitgeist, community wealth building. On resolving the housing crisis, not so good – a clear victory signalled for the volume housebuilders. 

Scottish Government

The National Planning Framework (NPF) is a long term plan for Scotland that sets out where development and infrastructure is needed. 

Scotland’s fourth National Planning Framework (NPF4) will be a long term plan looking to 2045 that will guide spatial development, set out national planning policies, designate national developments and highlight regional spatial priorities.

It will be part of the development plan, and so influence planning decisions across Scotland.


The current National Planning Framework (NPF3)and Scottish Planning Policy (SPP), both published in 2014, will remain in place until NPF4 is adopted by Scottish Ministers. 

In 2020, we started work on the preparation of NPF4.

NPF4 will be different to NPF3. It will have increased status and be part of the statutory development plan, meaning that its policies will have a stronger role in day-to-day planning decision making.

NPF4 will incorporate updated Scottish Planning Policy which will contain detailed national policy on a number of planning topics. For the first time, spatial and thematic planning policies will be addressed in one place.