The Scottish Government’s National Planning Framework 4 (NPF4) offers a unique opportunity to plan for a more resilient and successful Scotland. We have recently submitted our response to NPF4 and believe it should address issues based around four key themes: the local context, climate change, healthy and resilient communities, and inclusive growth. Find out more about NPF4 on a new Transforming Planning website.

Local Context
Local Place Plans (LPP) will be a key vehicle for improving local outcomes, empowering communities, and promoting the involvement of young people and other seldom-heard groups. Alongside this, mediation will help deliver better engagement and build consensus within both development planning and management. We believe that NPF4 should affirm these new statutory provisions. When facilitated effectively, LPPs can enable collective community action, foster an understanding of and help meet national and global challenges, and address key issues such as vacant and derelict land, empty homes and housing land allocation, with local people helping delivery on the ground.

Climate Change
The global climate emergency has reinforced the need for collaboration given its scope, with both mitigation and adaptation measures being key strands of any future plan for Scotland. Local Development Plans and LPPs should be guided by a narrative within NPF4 that:

  • reflects the concepts of the circular economy and zero-waste principles
  • secures the reduction of carbon emissions where possible – particularly throughout the construction lifecycle and the delivery of low impact design
  • emboldens the commitment to the re-use of vacant buildings and the preference for brownfield land

In addition, we believe that NPF4 should consider the implementation of a carbon footprint appraisal scheme for any new development and consider how sustainable rural settlement patterns could be created, using a new sustainable development model akin to the new town approach.

Healthy and Resilient Communities
To address inequality, and facilitate inclusive and intergenerational activity, we believe that the role of placemaking should be emphasised in NPF4. This should be facilitated through the use of the Place Principle as an approach, and the Place Standard as an engagement tool. Alongside securing net environmental benefits, both economic and health outcomes should be balanced. This means creating healthy places which address changing population demographics, improve air quality, encourage active travel and physical activity, and promote sociability. This collaborative place making approach should also help facilitate the delivery of infrastructure such as transport, energy, and telecommunications – addressing the issue of digital exclusion in Scotland.

PAS supports new provisions to set home building targets and core planning policies within NPF4. However we are aware that planning alone won’t address the shortfall in housing numbers; that this will require collaboration. In terms of outcomes we believe that NPF4 could enable a more flexible and inclusive approach to development by providing more opportunities for living and working spaces that are both intergenerational and meet local needs. This may include self-build, co-housing, live-work spaces, ‘whole-life’ homes. These should allow for flexibility through design to ensure they are adaptable. This flexibility should ensure more resilience in the advent of both sudden and long term economic, environmental and social change.

Inclusive Growth
We believe that a whole systems approach should be taken to ensure that land use strategy, land reform and community empowerment legislation are delivered through NPF4. The newly adopted ‘purpose of planning’ will be a key enabler of development and investment, where a long-term view set in NPF4 can help address current and future economic challenges, and help planners make positive place-based decisions at the local level. Given the significance of climate change we also believe that any approach to inclusive growth should incorporate economic and environmental ambitions in the long-term public interest. To secure inclusive outcomes there needs to be joint ownership, and a place-based approach, including LPPs, to help ensure that interventions and economic growth strategies broadly reflect the aspirations of all members of the community.

This is just a summary of our submission, to read it in full click here.