Scotland Policy Conferences

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Next steps for planning policy in Scotland - implementing NPF4 | local development plans | streamlining consent | housing | challenges for local planning authorities | improved local living and 20-minute neighbourhoods | sustainability

May 2024

Price: £150 PLUS VAT

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

Stakeholders and policymakers discussed progress of reform so far and further areas for development, including the potential introduction of masterplan consent areas (MCAs) from autumn 2024, which The Scottish Government will be consulting on. Delegates assessed priorities for the development of MCAs and how these can be used to effectively and fairly streamline the system.

It was also 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 brought 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 also considered 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 was also 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 guidance on housing audits.

Sessions also explored 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.

We are pleased to have been able to include keynote sessions with: Craig McLaren, National Planning Improvement Champion, Improvement Service; and Fraser Carlin, Chair of the Committee on Performance and Practice, Heads of Planning Scotland.

Overall, the agenda included 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 the Government’s 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

The conference was an opportunity for stakeholders to consider the issues alongside key policy officials who attended from CMA; The Scottish Government; Forestry and Land Scotland; Transport Scotland; Defra; DfI, NI; and DLUHC.

This on-demand pack includes

  • A full video recording of the conference as it took place, with all presentations, Q&A sessions, and remarks from chairs
  • An automated transcript of the conference
  • Copies of the slides used to accompany speaker presentations (subject to permission
  • Access to on-the-day materialfs, including speaker biographies, attendee lists and the agenda