The new framework, against which planning applications will be assessed, encourages local planning authorities to support planning applications which include restored greenspace as part of their plans. 

The overview of changes from the revised draft NPF4 highlight the move of policy outcomes from an annex in the draft to being clearly profiled within Part 1, the National Spatial Strategy, with explicit links to show which policies will help deliver each of the outcomes.

There are now six clear sections on each of the outcomes prescribed in the Act:

  • Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions - to meet greenhouse gas emissions targets.
  • Improving Biodiversity - to secure positive effects for biodiversity.
  • A Fair And Inclusive Planning System – that helps to eliminate discrimination and promote equality.
  • Homes That Meet Our Diverse Needs - in particular, the housing needs for older people and disabled people.
  • Rural Revitalisation – to help increase the population of rural areas of Scotland.
  • Lifelong Health And Wellbeing - to improve health and wellbeing

“This Framework gives local planners across the country the green light to build the fairer, greener Scotland we want to see to tackle climate change and benefit future generations.” Planning Minister Tom Arthur 

The reform was launched when Minister Tom Arthur visited the £4.2 million Lochshore development at the former Glengarnock Steelworks in Ayrshire. The development of this park of around 250 hectares, including Kilbirnie Loch, transforms a former heavy industry site for the benefit of local people and visitors. Glengarnock Iron and Steelworks produced rails for the growing rail network from 1843 and closed in 1985. 

In October ’22, one of the first projects of phase 1 was opened, the Lochshore Hub, made possible with grant contributions from the Scottish Government’s Regeneration Capital Grant Fund, Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA), Scottish Enterprise, sportscotland, Garnock Rugby Club and Land Trust. The TCV also contributed and have resources to encourage visitors to explore the area including scavenger and bug hunts; invertebrate ID; den building etc.

“This wouldn’t have been possible without close collaboration with the local community who have been integral to its development from the very early stages - it’s a real testament to community spirit.” North Ayrshire Council Provost Anthea Dickson 

In 2017 North Ayrshire Council began consultations leading to a vision of the site as a parkland destination with a focus on play. Work began to construct a new £4.2 million Visitor and Community Hub and active travel routes. Further consultations were held in 2021 to understand how the park would be used on a day-to-day basis. 

Note that the revised draft explanatory report stated there was support for a stronger commitment to placemaking, although it was argued that, at present, the design-led approach and quality outcomes identified do not feed through into policy. To arrive at the NPF4 three rounds of consultation were undertaken since 2020: the Call for Ideas (2020), the Position Statement (2020) and the Draft NPF4 (2021).