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The Planning System in Scotland

national planning framework 3 logo The planning system is used to make decisions about the future development and use of land in our towns, cities and countryside. It considers where development should happen, where it should not and how development affects its surroundings. The system balances different interests to make sure that land is used and developed in a way that creates high quality, sustainable places.

Scotland's planning system has undergone the most significant modernisation in over 60 years. The overall aim is delivery of a planning service that is efficient, inclusive, fit for purpose and sustainable.

There are 3 main parts to the planning system :

  • Development Plans - The planning system in Scotland is plan led. The plans set out how places should change into the future.
  • Development Management - This is the process for making decisions on planning applications. Legislation requires that decisions on planning applications be guided by policies in the development plan.
  • Enforcement - This is the process that makes sure development is carried out correctly and which can be used to take action when it has not.

Further information is available in the Guide to the Planning System in Scotland , Scottish Parliament Information Centre (SPICe) Briefing on Town and Country Planning in Scotland.

Planning Links

Web Review 2014

National Planning Framework 3 & Scottish Planning Policy

The Scottish Government published finalised versions of Scotland's third National Planning Framework (NPF3) and Scottish Planning Policy (SPP) on June 23, 2014.


Falkirk Wheel



We have published our Planning Performance Framework Report for 2013-14. The Report outlines the work that the division has undertaken throughout the reporting year, progress against our service improvement commitments and includes a new set of commitments for 2014-15.


SAQP Shortlisted Entries: Pen Pictures

A series of short articles highlighting each of the 29 shortlisted projects for this year’s Scottish Awards for Quality in Planning. Follow #SAQP2014 on Twitter.


ALL correspondence to Planning and Architecture relating to development plans should go to: development
. The gateway is for all stakeholders, including planning authorities, agencies, developers and members of the public, that wish to contact PAD regarding the process or content of development plans in Scotland