National Planning Framework 4 was adopted and published by the Scottish Ministers on 13 February 2023 at 9am.


  • the "development plan" is now NPF4 and the relevant local development plan
  • strategic development plans, National Planning Framework 3 and Scottish Planning Policy are superseded

Plan making

Work can now proceed on preparing new local development plans (LDPs). The Scottish Government expects the new style plans to be place-based:

"there should be greater emphasis on maps, site briefs and masterplans, with minimal policy wording"

Regulations and guidance for the new LDP system are expected to be published by the Scottish Government in the Spring.

Planning applications/ appeals

All planning applications/ appeals must be determined in accordance with the provisions of NPF4 and the relevant LDP, unless material considerations indicate otherwise. 

If there is an inconsistency between NPF4 policies and an LDP which was adopted before 13 February 2023, the NPF prevails (1997 Act, section 24(3), as amended).

For some older applications, this could involve a significant change in policy context. Additional assessment information might need to be submitted. If the change in policy increases the risk of a refusal of permission, it might be prudent to withdraw the application and amend the proposals.

Where NPF4 policies indicate development will not be supported, planning permission can still be granted if the decision-maker considers there are material considerations which support the development.

Business sectors 

NPF4 contains provisions of relevance to specific business sectors: for example, food and drink; renewables; and forestry, woodland and trees


Neil Collar