National Planning Framework

Find out here about the Council's input to National Planning Framework 4, which is prepared by Scottish Government. This is a vital opportunity to raise Highland’s profile on the national stage and to show how our communities and our area’s unique set of assets and resources can make a vital contribution to national outcomes. It will be a key part of supporting economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic and addressing the climate and ecological emergency.

The National Planning Framework (NPF) is a long term plan for Scotland that sets out where development and infrastructure is needed to support sustainable and inclusive growth. Scottish Government has begun the process of reviewing the NPF.

The current National Planning Framework (NPF3) was published in 2014 and will remain in place until a fourth NPF (NPF4) is adopted by Scottish Ministers. Scottish Government is also reviewing Scottish Planning Policy (SPP) which contains detailed national policy on a number of planning topics; the current SPP was published in 2014. The revised SPP will be incorporated into NPF4. For the first time, spatial and thematic national planning policies will be addressed in one place and NPF4 will have the status of the development plan for planning purposes.

Scottish Government expects NPF4 to look very different from NPF3, with a longer time horizon to 2050, fuller regional coverage and improved alignment with wider programmes and strategies, including on infrastructure and economic investment. NPF4 will also take into account regional spatial strategies which will be prepared by local authorities.

As part of early engagement for the preparation of NPF4, Scottish Government undertook a Call for Ideas. The Highland Council made the following submissions:

The Economy and Infrastructure Committee approved these submissions on 1 July 2020.

Highland Indicative Regional Spatial Strategy

Scottish Government also invited Planning Authorities to prepare Indicative Regional Spatial Strategies (IRSS) to inform NPF4. The Council has therefore led preparation of a Highland IRSS, with contributions from partners, It sets out the Council’s ideas for how the region can prosper in the period to 2050 and also support the delivery of national priorities and outcomes. The Highland IRSS was approved by the Economy and Infrastructure Committee on 2 September 2020 and since then has been finalised and submitted to Scottish Government.

Read our Highland Indicative Regional Spatial Strategy

View the Highland Indicative Regional Spatial Strategy Storymap

Informed by work on the Highland IRSS, we have submitted to Scottish Government alongside it a refined version of our submissions on candidate National Developments.

We have also prepared two films with the help of the Scottish Government and Kevin Murray Associates, to help outline the importance of and the key issues around preparing our iRSS. Both films also explain our engagement process, ongoing work and what we are seeking to achieve.

View full version on YouTube

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