Scotland Policy Conferences

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Next steps for planning policy in Scotland

Morning, Friday, 12th April 2024

This conference will discuss priorities moving forward for the planning system in Scotland, and ongoing implementation of the fourth National Planning Framework (NPF4).

Stakeholders and policymakers will discuss progress of reform so far and further areas for development, including the potential introduction of masterplan consent areas (MCAs) from this autumn, which The Scottish Government will be consulting on shortly. Delegates will assess priorities for the development of MCAs and how these can be used to effectively and fairly streamline the system.

It will also be an opportunity to consider newly agreed local development plans (LDPs), how these new strategies will sit alongside the wider NPF4 programme and whether they will succeed in bringing more flexibility to the planning system.

Looking at key challenges within the planning system, the agenda will bring out stakeholders’ views on development and implementation of the new LDPs and how these can be made to achieve the aim of improved local living and 20-minute neighbourhoods.

With discussion on further steps to streamlining, those attending will also consider key issues around resourcing and the growing cost of building materials, including what support is needed to improve the quality of planning applications.

The conference will also be an opportunity to assess priorities for Scotland’s housing sector, what support is needed for developers to meet housing and regulatory targets, and next steps for implementing expected new guidance on housing audits.

Sessions will also explore where NPF4 implementation sits alongside Scotland’s wider environmental legislation, such as the development of a Strategic Framework for Biodiversity, expected this year, and what support stakeholders within Scotland’s renewable energy sector will need in order to develop the necessary infrastructure for Scotland to meet its renewable energy targets.

Overall, the agenda includes discussion on:

  • policy: implementing NPF4 - progress so far - priorities for future masterplan consent areas - considering the positioning of planning legislation alongside wider legislative programmes
  • streamlining the system: ensuring regulation is agile and workable - enabling renewable energy infrastructure development - support in ensuring high quality planning applications
  • housing provision: assessing resourcing challenges - furthering progress on Scotland’s housing targets - support needed for developers - lessons from previous developments within the NPF4
  • skills development: priorities for a potential workforce plan - identifying resourcing needs - analysing strategies for meeting need
  • innovation: encouraging innovation adoption - exploring ongoing digital transition - utilising innovative work practices to streamline consenting
  • building sustainable places: assessing government green targets - balancing infrastructure and house-building with biodiversity protection - national developments
  • 20-minute neighbourhoods and local living: enhancing quality of life and the local economy through key infrastructure located within a 20-minute radius - engaging business and the planning system - priorities for LDPs


Craig Whelton

Partner, Burges Salmon

Lorraine Tulloch

Chief Executive, Greenspace Scotland

Pauline Smith

Chief Executive, Development Trusts Association Scotland