UK: Government Guidance - Significant Changes As A Further Part Of "Culture Change"

Last Updated: 1 June 2009
Article by Murray Shaw


The Scottish Government have signalled a clear intention to try and change the approach to planning in Scotland as well as the legislative framework.

At the Planning Summit held last year they revealed new guidance entitled "Scottish Planning Policy". This replaced SPP1 which provided guidance to the operation of the planning system (see Planning Reform – Some Practical Changes).

At the Planning Summit they indicated an intention to come out with further guidance essentially replacing all existing SPPs and NPGs with one consolidated document. The draft of this appeared at the beginning of April and there is now a consultation period until 24 June.

The Scottish Planning Policy Document

The document is simply entitled "Scottish Planning Policy" and it is, in effect, a continuation from the document which appeared last year, both in philosophy and physically (the paragraph numbers follow on in a sequential order).

There has been considerable consolidation because some 17 lengthy documents (most of the existing SPPs and NPPGs) are consolidated into one document of some 37 pages (or 155 paragraphs or so). This is a remarkable achievement. Only time will tell whether it is in fact an effective change though there was criticism from many to the effect that in reality it is possible to find some semblance of justification for most proposals given the number of lengthy documents which existed.

The draft confirms that two existing documents are not being replaced, namely NPPG 12 on Ski-ing Developments and SPP20 concerning the role of Architecture & Design Scotland. This latter document is simply being abandoned because it was not really a policy document.

The draft makes clear that the document SPP comprising two parts (i.e. the first part which appeared in October of last year and the final version of the current draft) should be read as a whole and not independently.

The draft also identifies where there are significant changes. In truth they are few and far between and in reality this is substantially a consolidation document.

The first section of this draft deals with community engagement – that in itself is interesting as it seems to be intended to reinforce the importance of Scottish Government wishes to place upon this process. However the relevant paragraph simply confirms, briefly, the benefits that the Government sees as emerging from community engagement. It gives no further guidance on how community engagement should be carried out and it appears likely that such guidance will need to be given shortly.

There then follows a section on sustainable development followed by what are entitled "Subject Policies" dealing with a diversity of subjects including economic development, town centres and retailing, housing, green belts, renewable energy and a range of other subjects which were previously covered off in the "stand alone" SPPs.

The draft contains no glossary (or definitions) section which seems slightly surprising. It will be interesting to see whether this remains the same when the final version emerges.

Perhaps not surprisingly given the deliberate intention to reduce the amount of guidance available, the draft does take a different approach in comparison to the guidance it replaces. For example, in relation to town centres which were previously the subject of guidance in SPP8, the sequential approach is maintained with a hierarchy of town centre, edge of town centre and other commercial centres identified in the Development Plan all being preferable to out of centre locations. There is, however, no explanation (which is different from the existing guidance) as to how these might be defined. It will be interesting to see whether that causes more scope for argument or debate going forward.

While primarily we are dealing with consolidation here, there are changes of emphasis which can be noticed. For example, in SPP8 (the existing guidance) paragraph 15 states "planning authorities and developers should adopt a sequential approach to selecting sites for all retail and commercial uses". There has been debate about what was meant by "commercial uses". The new guidance states (see paragraph 47) that the sequential approach "should be used when selecting locations for all retail and commercial leisure uses". That is more precise.

It seems likely, going forward, that comparison between the current guidance and the new (once formally adopted) is unlikely to be productive in general terms. However, to the extent there are such changes of emphasis then Development Plans will need to pick up on this.

This document will continue to be underpinned by a range of Planning Advice Notes (PANs) and it appears likely that the Government will continue to release those, albeit the general intention is to scale back the amount of planning advice issued by the Government. It seems inevitable that given the consolidation which will occur if the final version is similar to the draft, Planning Advice Notes will need to give more proactive practical guidance.

What is not entirely clear is how frequently the SPP will be updated. Clearly it is important that guidance is kept up to date. Will the Scottish Government issue a revised version of the SPP where an appropriate change is required in relation to one subject policy, or will they hold back all changes to make them on say a once a year basis?


In reality it is likely that the significance of this document will only become clear when you are applying it in relation to a specific development proposal. Certainly on first reading it is a user friendly document and has the feeling of something that is much more precise and easier to apply than the documents we had previously. In the context of a planning inquiry there will be a significant reduction in the amount of copying required – a welcome step in itself!

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

In association with
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.