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Strategic Development Planning in Scotland

Strategic Development Planning in Scotland

There are four Strategic Development Plan Areas which cover Scotland’s largest city-regions, around Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh and Glasgow. These areas cover approximately 32% of the land area of Scotland. Glasgow and the Clyde Valley is the largest of these city regions.

Up-to-date, effective Strategic Development Plans are critical because they set the context for Local Development Plans which together guide decisions on planning applications. They also inform and co-ordinate decisions on the strategic infrastructure investment.

Strategic Development Plans will have to set out a clear vision and spatial strategy for their area. Largely the plans will focus on the key land use and development issues that cross the planning authority boundaries and as a result they will be shorter, more strategic and easier to use than the previous structure plans.

Strategic Development Plans should also be 'concise and visionary' documents that provide clear parameters for the Local Development Plans sitting below.

While the context of each plan will differ, the key issues for most Strategic Development Plans will be the supply of land for housing, as well as major business and shopping uses. Protection of environmental assets and the provision of important infrastructure such as transport, waste, water and energy will also be covered, as may the promotion of green belts and networks.

Strategic Development Plans are required under the Planning etc. (Scotland) Act 2006 to include:

  • A Vision Statement: a broad statement showing how the development of the area could occur and the issues that might be expected to affect that development, including physical, economic, social and physical characteristics, principal land use, the size, composition and distribution of the population of the area, the infrastructure, how the infrastructure is used and any anticipated changes.
  • A Spatial Strategy: a broadly based statement of proposals as to the development and use of land in the area.
  • Analysis of relationships with development and land use proposals in neighbouring areas that are likely to affect the Strategic Development Plan area.
  • Any other appropriate issue.

The Strategic Development Plan may also contain or be accompanied by maps, diagrams or illustrations but it must contain a map or diagram describing the spatial strategy.

However following the enactment, in July 2019, of the Planning (Scotland) Act by the Scottish Parliament the role of strategic planning in Scotland is changing. 

The statutory duty to prepare a Strategic Development Plan has been removed and has been replaced with duty to prepare a Regional Spatial Strategy. This duty, which applies to all local planning authorities in Scotland not just the current 4 SDPA's, will formally come in force following the approval of National Planning Framework 4 in late 2021.

Unlike the Strategic Development Plan, the Regional Spatial Strategy will not form part of the statutory Development Plan system, this will now comprise the National Planning Framework and the Local Development Plan.

Details of the legislative requirements in relation to Regional Spatial Strategies can be found at http://www.legislation.gov.uk/asp/2019/13/section/5/enacted

Strategic Development Planning in Scotland

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