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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.

Marine Planning Draft Circular

Please note that this Circular is still in draft form. The Circular was consulted on and will be published at the same time as the National Marine Plan (NMP). The Circular acts as a support document for the National Marine Plan during its consideration by Parliament. The National Marine Plan was laid before Parliament on the 11 December and will be with Parliament for 40 sitting days. During this time the NMP and its supporting documents will be subject to Parliamentary scrutiny. As such there may be a requirement to revise the content of the Circular before it is published. On the basis of the above timetable, the finalised Circular is expected to be published in February 2015.

Consultation on the land use planning aspects of the Seveso III Directive on the control of major-accident hazards

A consultation on the proposed amendments to planning legislation to implement the land use planning elements of the Seveso III Directive. It covers hazardous substances consent applications and relevant planning permission procedures. Consultation closes on March 2, 2015.

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.


Helix Falkirk 3


PAS LogoWith core activities supported by a grant from the Scottish Government, PAS (formerly Planning Aid for Scotland) provides independent advice on planning and environmental matter


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.