National Planning Framework

Following on from our newsletters looking at Community Wealth Building and the Wellbeing Economy, this week we will look at the National Planning Framework (NPF4). The NPF4- A National Spatial Strategy for Scotland 2045 looks at how Scotland can make sustainable use of our physical assets in a way that benefits communities. The policy is designed to not only help Scotland meet its national outcomes but also contribute to us achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 

‘Planning is a powerful tool for delivering change on the ground in a way which brings together competing interests so that decisions reflect the long-term public interest.’ (Tom Arthur MSP, Minister for Public Finance, Planning and Community Wealth) 

In a time of unprecedented challenges for communities and the environment, it is crucial that all planning decisions involve communities in decision-making so they feel connected to where they live. It is also important that we protect the rich biodiversity of Scotland for future generations. The policy will judge future planning applications on the following six criteria, referred to as spacial principles within the government planning documents: 

  • Just transition. We will empower people to shape their places and ensure the transition to net zero is fair and inclusive. 
  • Conserving and recycling assets. We will make productive use of existing buildings, places, infrastructure and services, locking in carbon, minimising waste, and building a circular economy. 
  • Local living. We will support local liveability and improve community health and wellbeing by ensuring people can easily access services, greenspace, learning, work and leisure locally. 
  • Compact urban growth. We will limit urban expansion so we can optimise the use of land to provide services and resources, including carbon storage, flood risk management, blue and green infrastructure and biodiversity. 
  • Rebalanced development. We will target development to create opportunities for communities and investment in areas of past decline and manage development sustainably in areas of high demand. 
  • Rural revitalisation. We will encourage sustainable development in rural areas, recognising the need to grow and support urban and rural communities together. 

Social Enterprises across Scotland are already helping contribute to achieving the spacial principles. In recent years we have seen an increase in the number of heritage building restoration projects that are looking to conserve community assets and turn them into something of value to residents. We are currently in the midst of a few Place Plans working in partnership with other professionals; these place plans aim to ‘empower people to shape their places’ 

The policy even addresses the issue of increased community ownership in its ‘six qualities of successful places’ section. We work closely with Community Shares Scotland and Development Trust Association of Scotland to help communities across Scotland take ownership of community assets and help contribute to this goal of the policy. 

We are currently running a pilot with to help groups create Net-zero policies so they can contribute to achieving the SDG goal of net-zero by 2050. Watch out for future newsletters which will highlight this work and how your organisation can implement small changes to have a big impact. 

If you need support with a project that is helping address these spacial principles, then get in touch today and one of our expert team to find out how we can help.