Landscape and planning

Scotland’s planning system must respect landscape and recognise its many benefits – as well as its dynamic nature.

The planning and design of development draws on specific policy and guidance below and NatureScot's overarching framework for landscape policy.

National Planning Framework

Published in 2014, National Planning Framework 3 (NPF3) sets out the Scottish Government’s development priorities for the next 20 to 30 years.

Its approach recognises the need to respect, enhance and make responsible use of Scotland’s natural and cultural assets – including our landscapes.


  • notes that landscape supports health and well-being; sustains local distinctiveness and cultural identity; and contributes to our quality of life, national identity and the visitor economy
  • recognises the importance of Scotland’s coastal landscapes, National Scenic Areas, National Parks, our wildest landscapes, and the landscape setting of towns and cities
  • promotes a planned approach to development that reflects the dynamic nature of landscape and the challenge presented by climate change
  • seeks a step change in the environmental quality of our poorer landscapes by improving green infrastructure, prioritising improvements across the Central Scotland Green Network

Scottish Planning Policy

Scottish Planning Policy sets out Scottish Government policy on land use planning. It explains how land use planning should reflect government policies that aim to conserve and enhance Scotland’s natural heritage.

It also contains guidance on spatial frameworks for wind farms.

Planning Advice Notes

These provide more detailed planning advice and information. The Planning Advice Notes below are relevant to landscape in general.

Planning for Natural Heritage: Planning Advice Note 60:

  • advises how development and the planning system can support the conservation, enhancement, enjoyment and understanding of the natural environment
  • encourages developers and planning authorities to tackle nature and landscape issues positively and creatively
  • includes examples of good planning practice in relation to landscape drawn from across Scotland

Masterplanning: Planning Advice Note 83 explains the need for masterplanning, and covers the masterplanning process from start to finish.

Design Statements: Planning Advice Note 68 looks at the design statement and why it’s a useful tool for developers and local authorities.

Creating Places Policy

'Creating Places' is the Scottish Government's policy statement on architecture and place. It recognises landscape's contribution to better places, and the need to consider landscape character and capacity to guide landscape change.

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