Reality of National Planning Framework ‘falls far short of ambition’, says Scottish Land & Estates

Press Release

Scotland’s new National Planning Framework (NPF4) falls short in meeting its own ambition, says Scottish Land & Estates.

The organisation has responded to the Scottish Government’s NPF4 consultation, welcoming the ambition of the proposed updated framework, but highlighting where it falls short in supporting rural interests. The organisation believes that while NPF4’s aims to address the climate and nature crises and to support rural communities are overwhelmingly positive, too many of the concrete proposals are at odds with those ambitions.

Commenting on NPF4, Scottish Land & Estates’ Policy Adviser on rural communities, Sarah Madden, said:

“We fully support the overarching ambition of NPF4, but unfortunately there is a large gap between that ambition and the detail in the framework.

"We of course understand that the planning system needs to take the climate crisis into account, but addressing that must not be to the detriment of rural development.”

SLE has also pointed out parts of the proposed framework which appear to be self-contradictory. Ms Madden continued:

“We are supportive of the ambition to sustain and increase rural populations. Yet the framework contains proposals that would do the opposite.

"For example, the proposal to prevent developments where it would increase private car use simply isn’t workable in rural areas where public transport is patchy or non-existent. This could have the unintended effect of locking rural areas out of development at a time when they are in many cases already fragile.

"We are also disappointed to see the omission of high-quality cluster housing developments – an important model of rural housing development that ensures builds are in keeping with local design and character while safeguarding biodiversity.

"Our consultation response sets out in detail our concerns and our recommendations for improvement.”

SLE has also welcomed an NPF4 proposal to decarbonise ferries, but highlighted that transport connectivity across Scotland’s island and coastal communities is still far from satisfactory, with improvements to ferry and island airport connections needed to make it easier to travel, live, work and visit rural areas. The organisation has also expressed concerns about a lack of resourcing for the levelling-up of the planning profession, which it believes should be a higher priority in the new framework.


Listen to the new episode of ScotLand Matters - In conversation with: Bidwells' Mark Myles & SLE's Sarah Madden on National Development Planning for Scotland’s rural areas