Overview of and changes to planning system

March 2023

Highland Council publish an annual newsletter about the structure of the planning system in the Highlands, and changes in progress or proposed.  The latest issue (15pp PDF) was published in March 2023 and describes proposed changes to be made over the next few years.

Changes to the planning structure

At present
The current Development Plan consists of NPF4 (National Planning Framework 4) and four local development plans (LDPs): the Highland-wide LDP (HwLDP), the Inner Moray Firth LDP (IMFLDP), the Caithness and Sutherland LDP (CaSPlan), and the West Highlands and Islands LDP (WestPlan). 

In future
Scotland’s planning system is being reformed.  It will be a number of years before all of the reforms take full effect.  Once they have, the Development Plan in Highland will comprise two documents: the new National Planning Framework (this part, prepared by Scottish 
Government, is now in place – NPF4) and a new Highland Local Development Plan (HLDP).  When adopted, the HLDP will replace our HwLDP and our three individual ‘area’ LDPs. 

Local Place Plans

The newsletter also refers to Local Place Plans, described as enabling local communities to  express their aspirations for development or the use of land in their local area,  which are currently being prepared in some areas including the Black Isle.  It notes that Highland Council has a legal responsibility  to take Local Place Plans into account while preparing our Local Development Plan.

The language used must have the effect of limiting expectations of any positive outcome from the local place plans currently being prepared, despite the professionalism and enthusiasm with which this process is being pursued, at least on the Black Isle.

What the newsletter says about proposed changes and Local Place Plans

Place plans page on Highland Council website

Participation Statement and Survey

The newsletter also includes a 'Participation Statement' - a 10-point declaration about how Highland Council proposes to communicate with and provide for participation from the public during preparation of the new Highland Local Development Plan (not expected to be finalised until June 2027) and intermediate work on the IMFLDP and other local plans.  There is also a survey to provide feedback to the council about how these communication proposals are viewed by the public.

View the participation statement and complete the survey


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