Planning applications will have to show how they help meet Scotland’s climate change targets, under the Scottish Government's draft fourth National Planning Framework, newly published for consultation.

Once approved by the Scottish Parliament and adopted by ministers, expected during 2022, the Framework will become part of the statutory development plan and will directly influence planning decisions. 

Applications that create more town centre homes or help reuse vacant and derelict land will be more likely to succeed, as the Framework promotes the creation of 20-minute neighbourhoods, where services are easily accessible on foot or by bicycle, across cities and towns. Tighter restrictions will be imposed on out-of-town retail development.

It will also support developments which contribute to nature restoration, drive population growth in rural Scotland, create more homes to meet local needs and encourage green investment.

The Framework will embed the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals in domestic planning standards, and could shape planning decisions for the next 30 years.

Drawn up in the light of Scotland's ambitious targets to cut emissions to net zero by 2045, the proposals set out 18 national developments including:

  • a national walking, wheeling and cycling network promoting active travel;
  • mass and rapid transit networks for cities to significantly reduce congestion and reliance on the car;
  • sustainable drainage and water management solutions to protect cities from future flood risk;
  • master planned regeneration and investment along the Clyde and waterfronts in Dundee, Edinburgh and Stranraer;
  • supporting transition of key industrial sites to net zero as well as helping to sustain rural and island communities in transitioning to a net zero society;
  • pumped hydroelectric storage, large scale renewable energy generation and investment in the electricity grid.

Needs of older people and the disabled would be considered when designing housing. Increasing the density of existing settlements or building homes on disused land will reduce the need to travel unsustainably for work or leisure.

The Framework would support renewable development, providing the impact is acceptable. This includes building more powerful or new wind farms outside national parks and National Scenic Areas, subject to sensitive case by case assessments. Proposals would still need to include an assessment of the impact on nearby residents and the local community.

Planning Minister Tom Arthur commented: "This plan for Scotland in 2045 aims to transform places so more of us live in well designed and energy efficient homes, located within walking distance of local services and green space, and puts planning at the heart of delivering green, inclusive and long term sustainable development.

"This is a turning point for planning in Scotland. Our proposals will help us achieve our just transition to net zero emissions by helping to deliver more renewable energy, protecting our natural environment and creating better, healthier places to live."  

Click here to access the consultation, which remains open until 31 March 2022.