Scottish Land & Estates calls for planning flexibility in rural communities

Greater flexibility and a rural focus in the planning system is required if rural communities are to thrive in the future as the lasting impact of the coronavirus pandemic takes it toll, according to Scottish Land & Estates (SLE).

In its response to the Scottish Government’s call for ideas on the National Planning Framework 4 (NPF 4), SLE is calling for rural planning to be more flexible. The organisation is also urging the government to consider quality of life, health and wellbeing of people as well as climate change through better design of both homes and the wider environment.

But SLE has warned that a one-size-fits-all approach for a planning framework in Scotland would be detrimental to rural communities who have very different requirements to urban areas.

Gavin Mowat, Policy Adviser for Scottish Land & Estates, said: “The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as uncertainty around Brexit, will see a bigger need for rural communities to be resilient if they are to thrive. To ensure resilience, it is vital that the new planning framework considers people’s quality of life, health and wellbeing as well as climate change through the better design of both homes and the wider area.

“This means we will need a flexible planning system that delivers more affordable housing and allows for rural businesses to diversify in order to survive and thrive.

“NPF4 should also recognise the different requirements that rural Scotland has for new homes and infrastructure such as future transport needs, healthcare, education and community facilities. These types of things differ in a small rural community compared to a larger development on the fringe of a city or town. Flexibility is key as Scotland’s communities and businesses emerge out of lockdown, through Brexit and into a new normal.”

The NPF4 is a long-term spatial plan for Scotland that sets out where development and infrastructure is needed to support sustainable and inclusive growth.

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