Planning & Environment

Four key priorities in the Scottish Government’s Main Issues Report for the National Planning Framework (NPF) 3.

The third is: a successful, sustainable place. This focuses on promoting high quality development and sustainable economic growth.

The feasibility of sustainable economic growth is a favourite discussion piece, but as the Report acknowledges, the role of NPF3 is to deliver Scottish Government policy, not change it.

The Report states that NPF3 can play a significant part in delivering the Strategic Priorities set out in the Scottish Government’s Economic Strategy, including supporting investment in Enterprise Areas; 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 – both of which are suggested as national developments (CSGN is already a national development in NPF2).

Dundee Waterfront project is proposed as a national development because of “the scale of environmental, social and economic benefits”. More explanation of that justification is required.

Q11 includes “How can the strategy as a whole help to unlock the potential of our remote and fragile rural areas?”.

The housebuilding industry will be disappointed by the rejection of the proposal for NPF3 to set regional targets for housing development. However, the opportunity is taken to indicate the Scottish Government’s wish to see greater and more concentrated effort to deliver a generous supply of housing land, especially in South East Scotland.

No large scale developments are proposed to be designated as national developments on the basis of their contribution to meeting housing need. The Report says that because of the scale of the housing requirement it is not appropriate to single out for priority any particular developments. What does that mean? Is it the often debated too many eggs in too few baskets point – ie. designating national developments would tie up too much of the housing requirement in too few sites which could be slow to deliver? But if the Ravenscraig and Dundee projects are considered important enough to be given a leg-up, why not some large house building projects? The lack of any housing-led national developments suggests the Scottish Government does not consider the significant need for housebuilding, acknowledged in the Report, to be as much as a priority as other forms of development.

Neil Collar