What relevance does the new Scottish Government guidance on local development plans have for the food and drink industry in Scotland?

Local development plans

I commented on the implications for the food and drink industry from National Planning Framework 4 (NPF4). New local development plans (LDPs) are to be prepared by councils, to implement the NPF4 policies. The Scottish Ministers have issued guidance to be followed by councils.

LDPs will only be replaced every 10 years, so it is important for the food and drink industry to take opportunities to engage with the gathering of evidence and formulation of proposals.

Food environment

The evidence report is the first step in preparing an LDP. The guidance states it may be useful for the evidence report to assess the nature of the food environment in the area, including the diversity and availability of food through retail and how it is or is not contributing towards healthy diet and weight in the area.

Food environment evidence may include:

  • food availability and food deserts;
  • food outlet clusters;
  • local and community food growing;
  • food markets;
  • market gardens; and
  • non-agricultural commercial food growing.

Retail development

LDPs can support lifelong eating well and healthy weight through supporting diversity in fresh, healthy, affordable local food and drink retail. Food deserts might be addressed by identifying areas with an absence or very low level of outlets for nutritious, healthier food, and then identifying locations where outlets selling nutritious, healthier food and drink would be supported.

Drive throughs

Through the LDP process, planning authorities should consider whether there is a need for provision of drive-throughs within the area, accounting for any existing provision, impacts and effects upon the existing network of roads, the existing retail offering and distribution in an LDP area, and compatibility of drive throughs with wider uses.

In the meantime, the transitional guidance from the Scottish Ministers indicates that the statement in NPF4 - “drive through developments will only be supported where they are specifically supported in the LDP” - should not be treated as a moratorium or ban on such developments.

Hot food takeaways

To support a healthier food environment, LDPs can direct hot food takeaways, including permanently sited vans, towards city/ town/ local centres. This can support local living and 20 minute neighbourhoods by helping to create diversity of access to food. It is expected that this would take place in the context of an awareness of the locations of clusters of food outlets selling less nutritious food and drink, alongside a lack of diversity of available foods overall, including access to fresh, nutritious food.

Hospitality industry

The guidance states that in creating future-proofed city centres within the spatial strategy, key considerations include the night-time economy and hospitality.


Neil Collar