Following the adoption of National Planning Framework 4, attention is turning to the preparation of new local development plans (LDPs). Guidance has been provided by the Scottish Ministers.

New legal and policy landscape

The guidance discusses the new considerations for planning authorities to take into account when preparing an LDP.


The indication is that every planning authority in Scotland should have a new style LDP in place by May 2028. As preparation is anticipated to take 3-4 years, that means work should start within the next year.

Relationship with NPF4

LDPs are not required to duplicate NPF policies. They should provide further detail building on those policies; variations to reflect local circumstances; and place-based policies, eg.:

  • setting out expectations of future development in particular locations (linked to development briefs or masterplans)
  • details of required developer contributions
  • design policies that reflect the local context, materials and vernacular style

Format and content

Policies and proposals within the LDP will be focused on places and locations. LDPs are expected to be place-based, visual plans with the inclusion of a clear spatial strategy - more of a collection of maps, development briefs and masterplans, than lengthy written text and policy.

Key issues which may have previously been covered in supplementary guidance, such as around developer contributions, should be covered in the LDP itself so that they are consulted upon, and scrutinised at Examination where appropriate.


Specific proposals / land allocations will cover the first ten years, and that for the longer term (beyond ten years) the plan may identify broad areas with potential for development.

Evidence reports and gatechecks

Our blog discusses the new concepts of evidence reports and the gatecheck.

Call for ideas/ sites

The guidance acknowledges that planning authorities may wish to undertake a general call for ideas / sites. This is expected to be open to everyone to propose ideas for any aspect of the plan, and not limited specifically to suggestions for development sites or types of development eg. housing.

Allocation of sites

All sites proposed to be allocated for development should have been assessed for their deliverability through the site appraisal process, using the methodology agreed in the Evidence Report. No site should automatically roll forward from one plan to the next without being assessed.

Proposed allocated sites should be free of constraints as far as possible. Where constraints exist, the Delivery Programme should set out how constraints will be removed and the timeframe expected for this.

Delivery Programmes

The Ministers consider that the delivery programme is as important a part of the package as the plan itself. It should:

  • clearly indicate how sites are prioritised;
  • specify actions and timescales to deliver sites, including any interventions required, and identifying any costs and constraints and a clear pathway to addressing them e.g. funding sources, timescales / phasing;
  • specify how and when developer contributions will be sought, collected and become available over time to support the delivery of development;

In relation to infrastructure provision, there should be an explanation of how development viability has been factored into the funding approach.

NPF4 policy topics

The guidance provides specific advice on each of the NPF4 policy topics, eg. housing.


Neil Collar