Drive-thrus and retail parks face curbs under new rules

New self-service facilities and out-of-town retail developments face restrictions in the Scottish Government’s updated planning framework.

The new rules aim to promote developments that reduce emissions and help tackle climate change.

Ministers published a revised draft of the national planning framework, known as NPF4, on Tuesday.

While local authorities will continue to be the arbiters of planning decisions, it sets policies against which planning applications will be measured for the next decade.

A key goal is to enable renewable electricity generation outside of national parks and scenic areas.

It also seeks to facilitate the creation of routes for pedestrians and cyclists, as well as green spaces.

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Local councils will set targets for the number of new houses they are expected to approve.

Planning Minister Tom Arthur updated the MSPs on NPF4 in the Scottish Parliament.

He said: “This final version makes it clear what will be delivered and how.

“It is now clear through the weighting that will be applied to the different policies, that the climate and nature crises are the priority.

“That is reflected in a new policy to address nature and climate crises that underpins all other policies in NPF4.”

He said that the government had listened to the renewable energy industry and there was now a clear expectation about the role of planning in the expansion of the sector.

Speaking to reporters after the minister’s statement, Scottish government officials said certain types of development would be discouraged under the new framework.

Chief Planner Fiona Simpson said this included commercial peat extraction and housing on unplanned sites.

More restrictive approaches would also be taken against out-of-town retail and self-service developments, recommending a “downtown-first” approach.

Possible exceptions to this rule are agrostores, craft stores and service stations.

Draft NPF4 states that some types of development would not be supported if they “undermined the character and amenities of the area or the health and well-being of the communities.”

It suggests that self-service developments would only be supported where they are included in local development plans.

The Scottish Government has set a target of reducing the total number of kilometers traveled by car by 20% by 2030.

Gail Macgregor, environmental spokesperson for Cosla, responded to the NPF4 document.

She said: “Analysis and scrutiny will be required to comment on the content of NPF4, due to the details and complexity of the framework.

“Cosla has previously made it clear that we support a National Planning Framework that is consistent with our existing priorities, in particular the Just Transition to a Net Zero Economy by 2045 and the creation of places to improve the well-being of Scotland’s communities. .

“We welcome moves in NPF4 to achieve these goals, but the framework alone is not enough and local authorities will require the resources and flexibility of full cost recovery to achieve their goals effectively and efficiently.”

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