We operate Scotland's planning system and are responsible for the development and implementation of national policy on planning, architecture and place.

Planning makes an important contribution towards each of the National Outcomes that describe the kind of Scotland we want. See how our work contributes.

Applications for planning permission and related appeals can be made on the ePlanning.scot website.

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Coronavirus (COVID-19) and planning

The Chief Planner and the Minister for Local Government, Housing and Planning wrote on 3 April 202029 May 202018 December 202022 March 2021 and on 8 November 2021 in relation to implications for Scotland's planning system as a result of COVID-19 and the resultant need for physical distancing. These letters outline some steps and actions to ensure planning can continue to operate during these times and play a vital role towards economic and societal recovery.

The Coronavirus (Scotland) Act 2020 includes provisions relevant to the operation of the planning system. This guidance for stakeholders explains the provisions of the Act.

Regulations were introduced to enable specified aspects of the planning system to continue to operate. The intention is to roll forward some of these provisions until 31 March 2022. This includes a suspension of the requirement for physical public events within pre-application consultation (PAC) during this current period. There will need to be some alternative online engagement with local communities so that people can still have an opportunity to influence proposals that affect them. This guidance on pre-application consultations for public events (April 2020) explains more. The coming into force of 2021 Regulations introducing new PAC requirements is therefore to be postponed until 1 April 2022. The requirement to hold local review body meetings in public will, however, be reinstated from 1 October 2021. To this effect, Regulations in SSI 2021/292 and SSI 2021/291 came into effect on 29 September 2021. Work will, however, continue on guidance to accompany the postponed changes.

It is also important that the development planning process continues to function during this period to support future economic and societal recovery. The current situation has consequences for how development plans are progressed and in particular how planning authorities consult and engage with stakeholders. This advice note and Chief Planner letter explains more about Ministers expectations.

Permitted development orders relating to development by local authorities and health service bodies and by the Crown, grant temporary planning permission for certain developments to support the national response to COVID-19. For example temporary hospital facilities, testing centres, vaccination centres or other emergency related purposes.

We continue to liaise with stakeholders about the implications of COVID-19 for the planning system and any further legislation or other actions needed. These frequently asked questions update on recurring development management issues that stakeholders have raised with us. We will update these further as appropriate.  

Keep up-to-date by following us on Twitter @ScotGovPlanning and registering for our Planning and Architecture News updates.


Our role within planning in Scotland is wide and varied, and includes:


Planning supports the design and delivery of high-quality, successful places which are distinctive, safe, pleasant, welcoming, adaptable, resource efficient and easy to navigate. Distinctive high-quality places are vital to the social, environmental and economic success of our cities, towns and rural communities, and to our health and wellbeing.

National Planning Framework / Scottish Planning Policy

The current (third) National Planning Framework (NPF) was published in 2014, and sets the context for development planning in Scotland and provides a framework for the spatial development of Scotland as a whole.

Our current Scottish Planning Policy (SPP) was also published in 2014. It sets out national planning policies which reflect Scottish Ministers’ priorities for the operation of the planning system and for the development and use of land. It contains overarching policies that promote sustainability and placemaking as well as subject-specific planning policies.

We are currently reviewing the National Planning Framework and Scottish Planning Policy. Find out more at www.transformingplanning.scot and on Twitter: #scotplan2050

Bills and legislation

Coronavirus (Scotland) Act 2020

The Coronavirus (Scotland) Act 2020 came into force on 7 April 2020. The Act includes provisions relevant to the operation of the planning system. Those include:

  • extending duration of planning permissions about to expire
  • publishing planning documents online rather than at physical locations
  • allowing authorities to exclude people from meetings for public health reasons 

This guidance for stakeholders explains the provisions of the Act.

Town and Country Planning (Scotland) Act 1997

The main primary legislation setting the structure of the planning system is the Town and Country Planning (Scotland) Act 1997. That Act has recently been amended by the Planning (Scotland) Act 2019.

Planning (Scotland) Act 2019

The Planning (Scotland) Act 2019 was passed by the Scottish Parliament in June 2019. It contains a broad range of changes to our planning system which are currently being implemented. These include the National Planning Framework (NPF) being amalgamated with Scottish Planning Policy (SPP), with enhanced status as part of the statutory development plan. Scotland's fourth National Planning Framework will provide a combined strategic policy and spatial perspective. 

Find out more about the implementation of the Planning (Scotland) Act 2019 and our wider planning reform programme at our dedicated website www.transformingplanning.scot.


Email: chief.planner@gov.scot

Twitter: @ScotGovPlanning

Blog: Planning and Architecture blog

Staying in touch: register for Planning and Architecture News updates

Telephone: 0131 244 7528

Area 2-F (South)
Planning and Architecture Division
The Scottish Government
Victoria Quay