The Local Government, Housing and Planning Committee published its findings on draft NPF4 on Wednesday, coinciding with the close of the consultation period this week.

The Committee formulated its views having heard from stakeholders at formal evidence gathering sessions as well as informal events across Scotland. Written representations received in response to the Call for Views were also considered.

The headline findings are unsurprising and reflect common themes which have been expressed a number of times since NPF4 was published. While the Committee welcomed the ambition, delivery was the overriding concern. This was broken down into a number of areas including –

  • Clarity - the need for greater clarity on concepts and competing priorities;
  • Climate change and renewables – stronger guidance required on policy application;
  • Communities – more needed to support community engagement;
  • 20 minute neighbourhoods – how to deliver the concept across Scotland, particularly in rural areas;
  • Housing – a lack of ambition and nuance in the housing numbers (MATHLR) and concern over flawed methodology;
  • Town centres – how will NPF4 drive the recovery required or provide practical solutions to the problems of vacant units and derelict land; and
  • Resourcing – of the planning service and the need to invest in the future of the profession.

The Committee echoed concerns about the process itself, and the lack of opportunity to scrutinise properly the significant changes which it hoped would now be made to the draft. The Minister has assured the Committee that a "window of opportunity" will be allowed for this, but that remains to be seen.

Given the commonality of views which have been expressed from such a wide range of stakeholders, now including the Committee itself, it is hoped that the window remains open for some time….

A round up of our various NPF insights on the implications for key sectors of the economy can be found here