Planning and Architecture

Planning to live well locally – consultation on draft guidance

May 24, 2023 by No Comments | Category Planning

We have a clear vision for growing a well-being economy, achieving net zero and building community wealth, but we’re often asked what this means for our places and communities. By planning places to help people to live well locally, we’re taking practical steps towards making this vision a reality.

Our places should work for all of us and for the planet. People are busy, modern life moves at a fast pace, and the cost and time for transport can be a barrier to work or education. So it’s important that we can all easily reach the services and facilities we use on a day-to-day basis. Quick and affordable access from our homes to work, schools, healthcare, shops, and community spaces can help to make our lives a little easier. By planning places with communities, and growing stronger local and regional economies, the efforts of the Scottish Government and our partners in public, private and third sectors to build community wealth can also bring substantial health benefits.

Our places are always evolving. City and town centres are changing rapidly, but have the potential to sustain a greater mix of uses, including new homes supported by community and social facilities which benefit from strong public transport connections. Previously used vacant and derelict land and empty buildings are being redeveloped for a range of uses, providing new homes and opportunities for business investment. Redevelopment has the potential to grow and support new businesses, including expansion in employee owned or co-operative models. Large areas of housing expansion with limited local services simply do not make sustainable, liveable neighbourhoods, and our new policies will improve on that.

As examples of the concept of local living, ideas like having places of walkable distances and 20 minute neighbourhoods have captured imaginations, provoked debate and encouraged more people to get involved in planning. But this is absolutely not about imposing a single or centrally designed formula – the approach will vary from area to area and respond to the ideas and aspirations of local people. When we talk about Community Wealth Building, we mean creating more high-quality local jobs, fostering more successful local businesses, and making local communities a core partner in discussions about how land and assets are used. So it is critical that people of all ages and abilities, and from many different backgrounds, contribute to shaping their own neighbourhoods so they better meet their needs. And we’re also seeing creative thinking on how local living can work in rural areas as well as our towns and cities.

Put simply, National Planning Framework 4 (NPF4) aims to ensure that when we are considering what should be built in the future, the surrounding area and existing mix of buildings and land uses is taken into account. In the months ahead we will be working together to embed the concept of local living across Scottish Government policies and our wider planning system.

We know that some people are sceptical about why we are doing this. It’s true that our focus on local living is partly driven by a sustainable development agenda, in particular our net zero target and our focus on reducing car kilometres by 20% by 2030. But planning to support local living will give more people more choice, rather than imposing restrictions. We won’t be preventing people from travelling to access the services they need, we want to make sure they don’t have to. For more information on the myths and facts on this, see here.

We would encourage everyone to contribute their views on the proposed guidance. Consultation closes on 20 July 2023 and we will take into account views received in the final version.

Tom Arthur MSP, Minister for Community Wealth and Public Finance
Joe FitzPatrick MSP, Minister for Local Government Empowerment and