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National Planning Framework 3 - Main Issues Report and Draft Framework


4 A Successful, Sustainable Place

Our ambition is to create high quality, diverse and desirable places to promote wellbeing and attract investment

Map - A Successful, Sustainable Place

A Successful, Sustainable Place

Building on NPF2

4.1 The development strategy in the NPF2 aimed to promote more sustainable patterns of travel, transport and land use; and to encourage a sufficient supply of homes which are affordable in places where people want to live. It emphasised the ongoing importance of regeneration, improved health and access to opportunities for disadvantaged communities. Creating attractive, healthy, accessible, and sustainable places is a key element of this. The 2014 Commonwealth Games Facilities and the Central Scotland Green Network were designated as national developments.

4.2 NPF2 noted a pressing need for planning to help deliver growth in the supply of new homes, but was clear that it was for the planning system operating at the regional and local levels to determine the levels of need and demand, and to identify suitable sites for new housing. It highlighted a particular need for affordable housing in Edinburgh and the Lothians, Perth and Kinross, Highland, Argyll and Bute, East Dunbartonshire, South Lanarkshire and East Renfrewshire.


4.3 Much of our early engagement as we developed this Main Issues Report focussed on infrastructure rather than settlement planning and housing. However, many people stressed the importance of developing quality places. Linking placemaking with environmental enhancement through initiatives such as the Central Scotland Green Network was also a recurring theme.

4.4 The importance of cities, and city-regions, was emphasised strongly but there were also calls to plan positively for towns and rural areas, for the identification of other national and regional focal points for growth, and for a balance to be struck between identifying opportunities for development and maintaining the character and distinctiveness of our communities.

4.5 Housebuilders generally wanted to see a stronger national steer on the provision of land for housing.

4.6 Reflecting on this, we think that a number of drivers, including the cities, town centres and climate change agendas, suggest the need for a strong emphasis on promoting a sustainable approach to the built environment. This section explores the role of NPF3 in promoting high quality development and sustainable economic growth.

4.7 We strongly believe that maintaining a high quality built and natural environment, and a focus on making new places which are distinctive, healthy and sustainable, are essential if Scotland is to compete in a modern global economy where people and capital are both discerning and highly mobile. The draft Scottish Planning Policy emphasises placemaking and now includes the key qualities of successful places: distinctive, welcoming, adaptable, resource efficient, safe and pleasant and easy to move around and beyond. We have sought to apply these to our national spatial strategy, and see them as being equally applicable to development planning.

Sustainable economic growth

4.8 National Planning Framework 2 provided strong support for sustainable economic growth. NPF3 will continue to focus on this, taking account of the marked changes in economic conditions since 2007.

4.9 Scotland has the highest level of GVA per head in the UK outside of London and the South East of England, and productivity levels match the UK as a whole. Whilst the recession in Scotland has been shallower than that experienced by the UK as a whole, economic recovery is expected to continue well into the timescale of NPF3.

4.10 Employment levels vary across local authorities, and the recent downturn has resulted in only a quarter of local authorities showing an increase in employment rates between 2005 and 2010. Although employment levels remain highest in Shetland, Aberdeenshire and Orkney, rural disadvantage remains an issue for some parts of Scotland. NPF2 reflected the Scottish Government's Cohesion Target to narrow the gap in participation between the best and worst performing regions by 2017. Performance against the target continues to be monitored on Scotland Performs.

4.11 The Government Economic Strategy sets out the measures we are taking to accelerate economic recovery and support jobs. NPF3 can play a significant part in delivering the Strategic Priorities set out in the strategy, including supporting investment in our Enterprise Areas (Map 12) which are helping to deliver a supportive business environment; focussing on the renewable energy and grid infrastructure needed to help the transition to a low carbon economy, and prioritising projects like Ravenscraig and Central Scotland Green Network, which can deliver greater equity.

Map 12 - Enterprise Areas

4.12 Our Economic Strategy also identifies seven sectors which offer particular opportunities for growth due to existing competitive advantages or the potential to capitalise on natural assets. We think our spatial strategy should aim to support these sectors where it can, and take account of the places that are particularly important to each.

4.13 The key role of our cities becomes apparent when one considers these growth sectors. The creative industries have a particular strength in the cities, including broadcasting in Glasgow, advertising in Edinburgh and digital media in Dundee. Financial and Business Services also have a strong presence in the cities particularly in Edinburgh and Glasgow.

4.14 Our universities are for the most part located in our cities, but some towns and rural areas are also linking their future with the education sector, through developments like the University of the Highlands and Islands, the Crichton Campus in Dumfries and Heriot-Watt University's Scottish Borders Campus in Galashiels. Life sciences are closely aligned to our cities - and to their medical and academic institutions. Edinburgh, Glasgow and Dundee are bringing together a growing cluster of industry, scientists and clinicians to accelerate the growth of Scotland's burgeoning bio-science cluster and we are seeing great potential in the developing digital healthcare corridor between Inverness and Elgin with participation in other parts of the region.

4.15 As explored more fully in Section 2, energy is a key economic asset for Scotland. There is of course the global significance of Aberdeen as a centre for oil and gas, but other parts of Scotland are also important, including places like Shetland and the Moray Firth.

4.16 Our food and drink sectors depend on our natural assets for their raw materials and their brand image. Aquaculture is an important economic activity on the West Coast and in the Islands. It is a key export sector and has significant potential for further growth. Speyside, Islay and many other parts of the country are important for the whisky industry. Our sustainable tourism offer also relies on the quality of our environment, and our National Parks are key assets and exemplars in that context.

4.17 Four Enterprise Areas, comprising 15 strategic sites and focussed on growth sector opportunities which can be realised in the short term, have been identified across the country. In addition to the low carbon agenda, key sites supporting the life sciences and creative sectors form clusters of development east of Inverness, within Glasgow, around Edinburgh and Midlothian, and in Ayrshire. Enterprise Areas also support food and drink manufacturing opportunities in West Lothian. NPF3 will support the realisation of the opportunities offered by our Enterprise Areas and other key economic growth areas.

4.18 In broader terms, our preferred spatial strategy is to make the most of the unique and distinctive assets and opportunities of Scotland's cities, towns and rural areas. We want to capitalise on the distinctive potentials of each of our cities as economic drivers; on our energy resources; on the natural and cultural assets which underpin our tourism, and food and drink sectors; on our highly educated and skilled people; on other key growth sectors like life sciences and creative industries; and on our existing infrastructure in the transport, energy and industrial sectors. At the same time, we need to close the gap between our best and worst performing regions. We also have a responsibility to recognise and protect our nationally important infrastructure, and to strengthen its long-term viability and resilience.

A sustainable settlement strategy

4.19 Over the long term, our aims are to ensure that new developments and changes to existing settlements are sustainably planned, to facilitate adaptation to climate change, and to reduce resource consumption and lower greenhouse gas emissions. Planning should support, not act as a barrier to, the behavioural change required to combat and adapt to climate change. We want to help people to make lower carbon transport choices and facilitate more sustainable service provision. Emerging technologies for renewable energy, meeting our heating needs and delivering improvements in digital connectivity, are also changing our understanding of what constitutes a sustainable community.

4.20 Sustainable patterns of development mean different things in different parts of the country. To a large extent this will be defined by the spatial strategies in strategic and local development plans, within the context of the national policy set out in the Scottish Planning Policy.

4.21 NPF2 emphasised the importance of cities and city-regions and this will continue to be a key theme in NPF3. We will consider the emerging priorities of the Agenda for Cities, as well as those from the Town Centres Review, and highlight where planning can support these either nationally or through strategic and local development plans.

4.22 Connections and transport infrastructure are key to a successful future for towns and cities. Important investments such as the Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route aim to ease congestion and support the quality of environment within our cities. Section 5 explains how transport links to support the cities agenda have been prioritised. In Dundee and Glasgow the focus is on regeneration and investment, whilst Perth and Stirling are working to accommodate growth in a way that does not compromise their characters and identities. Edinburgh's historic composition and role as a capital city brings both opportunities and infrastructure challenges, and key growth areas include West Edinburgh and the Enterprise Area sites at Leith and Edinburgh Bioquarter, as well as the Bush Estate in Midlothian.

4.23 We will consider the spatial strategies in the emerging SDPs, and identify where connections and synergies between the city regions would be particularly useful.

4.24 There are transformational proposals for Dundee Waterfront, including the redevelopment of much of the waterfront area, the V&A, improvements to the railway station and development to support the offshore renewable energy sector at Dundee Port. The wider Waterfront project spans 240 hectares in five zones stretching 8 km along the River Tay. Together, the potential economic value is over £1 billion, making this a unique opportunity for planning to co-ordinate investment and play a lead role in placemaking and transformation of the city centre. The scale of environmental, social and economic benefits which can be delivered are such that we believe that key elements of the Dundee Waterfront project should be designated as a national development in NPF3.

National development

Dundee Waterfront

Why it is needed

To support the regeneration of Dundee Waterfront


Major development proposals within the waterfront area

4.25 As places, city and town centres provide a focus for investment, and opportunities to make use of existing infrastructure, including public transport hubs and easily accessible facilities. Changes in the retail sector, in the availability of private finance and in the delivery of our public services amongst other things, confirm there is the need for a radical rethink of the changed function and dynamic of town centres. As a result, there is also a need to develop a different approach to planning for town centre revitalisation. The Town Centres Review has highlighted a range of innovations that could be supported by national planning policy, including the promotion of a broader mix of uses in our town and city centres and full assessment of existing town centre assets and sites as matter of course when considering options for new investment projects. The Scottish Government will invest £2 million in 2013/14 to bring empty properties in town centres back into use for affordable housing. We recognise that each town has its own defining characteristics, challenges and opportunities. Solutions to town centre issues must reflect local needs and the character of the built environment. It is right that the national spatial strategy set out in NPF3 should have a strong focus on our cities and the wider city regions. But our preferred spatial strategy also identifies opportunities to recognise all of Scotland's town centres as a strong complement to these.

Map 13 - Vacant and Derelict Land

4.26 The Scottish Government's Regeneration Strategy promotes community-led regeneration that aims to ensure that our communities can grasp opportunities to define their own futures based on a recognition and understanding of their assets. The Community Empowerment and Renewal Bill will strengthen opportunities for communities to have their voices heard in decisions that affect them and their local area. The Bill will also provide greater opportunities for communities to take ownership of and manage properties, in order to support their aspirations and unlock enterprising community development. Ongoing work by the Scottish Futures Trust aims to ensure public assets are used to create opportunities to reinvigorate wider placemaking strategies. The reuse of vacant and derelict land (see Map 13) is a continuing challenge, but also a key opportunity for sustainable development and transformation of communities in areas where it is concentrated.

Map 14 - Ravenscraig

4.27 To help deliver some of these objectives, we believe that projects such as the Clyde Gateway, Clyde Waterfront and Ravenscraig should be recognised within the spatial strategy in NPF3. In particular, the development proposals at Ravenscraig (Map 14) could bring back into beneficial use a large and longstanding area of vacant and derelict land, delivering a significant number of new homes with a new town centre, proposed railway station, major sports facilities and new business and industrial development. Scottish Ministers have given provisional approval to North Lanarkshire Council to take forward a Tax Incremental Financing (TIF) project for Ravenscraig Phase 2. Its scale, its links with the aspirations for the Central Scotland Green Network and the number of benefits it can provide in the heart of the Central Belt are such that our preferred strategy includes the development of Ravenscraig as a national development.

National development


Why it is needed

To support the regeneration of Ravenscraig former steel mill


New homes, town centre, transport facilities, community facilities and business/industrial development

4.28 Map 15 provides an indication of fragility, as an alternative perspective to the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation. This essentially shows community resilience, based on a combination of population density, unemployment, access to services and income (SIMD, 2009). It underlines that disadvantage is not just an urban issue, but one that brings challenges in rural areas too. It is therefore essential that our national strategy recognises the needs of different parts of Scotland, including rural areas, and takes advantage of their opportunities. The map shows that rural resilience issues are not just confined to the Highlands and Islands, but exist closer to our cities network and in areas in the South of Scotland. This suggests the need for new solutions to existing problems, that reflect the distinctive character of all of our places. In the area of Galloway and Southern Ayrshire, classified as most fragile in Map 15, a biosphere reserve and dark skies park is providing new opportunities for tourism, sustainable community development and environmental management. In contrast, in a similarly 'fragile' area, the Western Isles, significant opportunities for growth are expected from investment in renewable energy.

4.29 In more rural areas development patterns are often of lower density, but there could be opportunities to increase the density of development within existing towns and villages, to link homes with clusters of service provision. For example, in both rural and urban environments, we are launching a £2 million investment fund to bring empty properties in town centres back into use for residential purposes. Furthermore, we do not believe that development in the wider countryside is unsustainable and in some places clustering to achieve low carbon objectives needs to be balanced with the benefit of continuing long-established patterns of dispersed development. The draft SPP indicates the need for housing development policies to respond to varying levels of pressure in different types of rural area.

Map 15 - Fragility

Question 11: How can we help to consolidate and reinvigorate our existing settlements and support economic growth and investment through sustainable development?

What more can NPF3 do to support the reinvigoration of our town and city centres and bring vacant and derelict land back into beneficial use?

How can NPF3 support our key growth sectors?

Should the Dundee Waterfront be designated as a national development?

Should the redevelopment of the Ravenscraig site be designated as a national development?

Could NPF3 go further in indicating what future city and town centres could look like, in light of long term trends including climate change, distributed energy generation and new technologies?

How can the strategy as a whole help to unlock the potential of our remote and fragile rural areas?

Green networks

4.30 We think we should aim for expanded green networks where these are currently lacking, or poorly connected, across the Central Belt, in our cities, and in and around our towns. We believe that there is a need to place more emphasis on the existing natural areas and open spaces within our settlements, and on quality and multi functionality, rather than quantity. We need to make them more accessible for people and manage them to provide multiple uses and benefits. This should be a particular priority in areas with concentrations of poor health, disadvantage, and low environmental quality. We also believe that our canals and water - our blue networks - offer strategic opportunities to link to and enhance our water environment, assist with climate change adaptation and strengthen longer distance recreational links.

4.31 Designation of the Central Scotland Green Network (Map 16) as a national development in the second National Planning Framework has been widely welcomed, and there is broad support for its continued designation in NPF3. Some have suggested that it should be expanded, geographically or thematically. Others believe that it should have a sharper focus on specific aims and objectives.

Map 16 - Central Scotland Green Network

4.32 The Central Scotland Green Network was conceived in NPF2 as a strategic project that would deliver a step change in environmental quality across Central Scotland, to support quality of life and stimulate investment. Our preferred option is to retain the existing geographical extent of the Central Scotland Green Network and maintain its national development status in NPF3. However, we consider that it should focus particularly on the development of active travel networks and bringing vacant and derelict land back into use, and that projects should be prioritised in areas where there are concentrations of economic disadvantage and poor health. Stronger links to other strategic transport infrastructure projects and the Metropolitan Glasgow Strategic Drainage Scheme, could help to achieve these objectives more effectively. Support for strategic compensatory measures and enhancement opportunities should also be viewed as a priority, and an opportunity for the Network to support the wider aims of our spatial strategy.

National development

Central Scotland Green Network

Why it is needed

To improve the environment in Central Scotland, support quality of life and stimulate investment


A strategic network of woodland and other habitats, active travel routes, greenspace links, watercourses and waterways, providing an enhanced setting for development and other land uses and improved opportunities for outdoor recreation and cultural activity


4.33 NPF2 noted the role of planning in promoting health, for example through environmental protection and enhancement, provision for active travel and improved access to healthcare facilities. Whilst it will continue to provide significant health benefits over the long term, we do not consider there to be a need to maintain the status of the Commonwealth Games Facilities as a national development in NPF3, as this work is largely complete. The Infrastructure Investment Plan already highlights the nationally significant healthcare projects that have been prioritised for the coming years.

4.34 Maps 17 and 18 show national patterns of general and health disadvantage, and highlight particular concentrations of poor health and low life expectancy in parts of West Central Scotland. This has informed the identification of priorities within the spatial strategy as a whole.

Map 17 - Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation (2012)

Map 18 - Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation - Health Index

4.35 Providing a built and natural environment that encourages physical activity and play remains a key challenge for planning. Equally important is to recognise that simply having a job and living in a decent home can have a hugely positive influence on people's health, and that NPF3's role in supporting economic recovery and new development can make a significant contribution to our aim of a healthier nation.

4.36 The Scottish Government is committed to reducing the gap between those who are most and least advantaged in society. For NPF3, our preferred spatial strategy is to prioritise actions and projects which can contribute to this agenda, including the Central Scotland Green Network and our support for good placemaking and economic development opportunities across the length and breadth of the country.

Question 12: How can NPF3 best contribute to health and wellbeing through placemaking?

Should the Central Scotland Green Network continue to be designated as a national development? What do you think its top priorities should be? How can it better link with other infrastructure projects in Central Scotland?

The right homes in the right places

4.37 The total number of households in Scotland is expected to reach 2.89 million by 2035, an increase of 23%. As broadly shown in Maps 19 and 20, this growth is projected to be highest in Edinburgh, Perth and Kinross, Aberdeen, East Lothian, and Aberdeenshire. In other areas, including some in the West, the increases will be much smaller, although the projected increase for Glasgow itself is 28%. Only one area (Inverclyde) is expected to experience a decline. Our population is ageing, particularly in rural areas, and household sizes are getting smaller.

4.38 The reasons for these changes vary between areas, and can reflect very different circumstances. For example, the Shetland Islands will continue to benefit over the coming years from the oil and gas sector and, although its population is expected to stay static, there will be a need for further development to reflect growing household numbers. Our spatial strategy therefore needs to be sufficiently flexible to allow for different place-based approaches to housing provision in response to varying local requirements.

4.39 The difficulties of securing finance since the economic downturn have led to levels of housing development being much lower than expected when NPF2 was published. Map 21 shows 2010-2011 completion rates, overall and by tenure, in different parts of the country. Consequently, as well as responding to long-term population growth, and in particular household growth, there is a need for a significant increase in housebuilding rates to ensure that housing requirements are met across the country. Although planning cannot, on its own, solve the difficulties housing developers face in securing finance in the current economic climate, NPF3 can play its part in ensuring that infrastructure is better co-ordinated with planned development. It also has a key role to play in reducing the carbon footprint of our existing and future housing stock, through locational and design decisions.

Map 19 - Population change by local authority area

Map 20 - Household change by local authority area

Map 21 - House Completion Rates

4.40 As the economy recovers, there are several places where growth is likely to be concentrated, including in and around our cities. In the long term, we also expect more development to be proposed in areas where there are key opportunities arising from the low carbon economy.

4.41 There remains a significant requirement for new housing development. Strategic and Local Development Plans will need to continue to focus on meeting the requirement for a generous supply of effective housing land. But this will be of particular importance in those areas where economic and household growth is expected to be high, including around Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Perth. In South East Scotland in particular, we wish to see greater and more concerted effort to deliver a generous supply of housing land on sites which can be delivered in sustainable locations where people want to live. The future spatial strategy for delivering this land will need to acknowledge or address the infrastructure constraints that exist in this region.

4.42 Early engagement in the development of NPF3 has highlighted issues with the housing market in some parts of the country. Infrastructure constraints have been raised as a concern in these locations, as well as the availability of new build homes across Scotland. To help address this, the Scottish Government is supporting the construction sector through the introduction of the MI New Home scheme which supports creditworthy borrowers to access 90 to 95% loan to value mortgages from participating lenders to enable them to buy new build homes. Development is also being supported through the House Building Infrastructure Loan Fund which provides loans to developers to support infrastructure and other eligible costs aimed at getting stalled sites moving. The scheme has announced funding support for projects in Glasgow, West Lothian, Inverness, Newtongrange, Edinburgh and Irvine.

4.43 It has been suggested that it would be useful for NPF3 to set regional targets for housing development. We do not propose that NPF3 replaces the now established approach to Housing Need and Demand Assessment at the regional and local level. We think planning authorities, using their knowledge of local issues and priorities and informed by proper evidence, are best placed to take the lead on meeting requirement for new housing in their areas. It is they who must also take the planning decisions on new development proposals.

4.44 As reflected in the Draft Scottish Planning Policy, planning for housing is about types of homes and their quality, as well as numbers provided. The Affordable Housing Supply Programme aims to deliver at least 30,000 affordable homes over the lifetime of this Parliament. At least 20,000 homes will be for social rent which will include 5,000 council homes. The remainder will include a range of schemes which will provide, for example, housing for shared equity and mid-market rent including the National Housing Trust. The Scottish Government is aiming to explore new funding mechanisms to unlock investment, including involvement of pension funds in affordable housing provision.

4.45 Further funds are available to support improved energy efficiency of new homes, as well as for improving the existing housing stock and housing in town centres. The Home Energy Efficiency Programmes for Scotland (HEEPS) will save people money on their fuel bills by refurbishing or re-fitting our existing homes to make them more energy efficient, for example, by insulating walls to keep heat in and installing more efficient boilers. Retrofitting schemes like this, and associated actions within the Sustainable Housing Strategy currently being developed, will complement planning's work to ensure that new housing stock is more efficient, contributing to our overall objective of developing lower carbon places.

4.46 Several large-scale national developments have been proposed by developers and local authorities. These include the suite of Sustainable Communities Initiative projects (Map 22) and some other housing development and regeneration proposals. Meeting our housing requirements will need delivery of a great many development proposals, from small to large, right across Scotland. Given the scale of this requirement, we do not think it is appropriate for NPF3 to single out for priority any particular developments on the sole or principal basis of their contribution to meeting housing need. We do not, therefore, propose to designate these proposals as national developments in NPF3.

Map 22 - Scottish Sustainable Communities Initiative

Question 13: How can NPF3 help to deliver sufficient homes for our future population?

Are there spatial aspects of meeting housing needs that NPF3 could highlight and help to tackle?