Home Business framework Flexibility of new planning framework can benefit rural Scotland, says SLE

Flexibility of new planning framework can benefit rural Scotland, says SLE


The rural-focused provisions of the latest draft National Planning Framework 4 (NPF4) have been greeted with caution by rural business organisation, Scottish Land & Estates (SLE).

The revised NPF4, which sets out sustainable policies against which planning applications would be assessed for the next decade, was tabled in the Scottish Parliament this week.

The approach contained in NPF4 includes:

  • A move towards more presumption in favor of rural development, in particular to support fragile communities, rural businesses and the environment
  • Greater flexibility around rural development
  • A focus on the planning system facilitating resilience and community-led wealth creation
  • Favorable planning conditions for digital infrastructure in areas with no or low connectivity capacity.

Sarah Madden, Policy Adviser (Rural Communities) at Scottish Land & Estates, said: “Planning policy has a significant impact on the social, economic and environmental resilience of communities and for many years we have said that reform was needed to provide greater flexibility for development in rural Scotland.

“We are pleased that the framework indicates movement in this direction, with a better understanding that a one-size-fits-all approach for all urban and rural sectors simply does not work.

“There is a move towards a greater presumption in favor of development and, if implemented, it can contribute to the growth of the rural economy in the years to come. Recognition of the role of the planning system in facilitating resilience and community-led wealth creation is also welcome. »

She added, “Creating and realizing local development visions and goals is especially important for rural communities who know what their areas need to thrive. Unlocking the planning system is one of the best ways to give people the tools they need to fulfill such aspirations.

“Similar goals around community-led resilience were also set out in the land reform consultation, but the MFN4 approach is a more sensible and cooperative path.”

Ms Madden concluded: “We are also pleased that the need for integrated land use, balancing essential development to support fragile communities and rural businesses with the need to maintain farmland, peatlands and wild lands of quality, has been recognized.

“What is crucial now is how the high-level principles outlined in the framework are interpreted and implemented in practice and that is something we will monitor as we move forward.”