General planning information

What planning is

The planning process is used to make decisions about future development and the use of land in our towns, cities and countryside. It decides where development should or should not happen.

Planning also balances competing demands to make sure that land is used and developed in the long-term public interest. It regulates the use of land by granting or refusing planning permission. Decisions are made in line with the council's development plan for the area.

Key parts of the planning process

Development plan

The development plan sets out the Council's policies and proposals for the use of land in the area. It guides development to the most appropriate locations while ensuring that the quality of the built and natural environment is protected. The plan also sets out how any new improved facilities, such as roads, schools and parks will be provided.

Under the new Planning Act, the Council is required to produce a Local Development Plan.

Development management

This term is used for describing whether to grant or refuse planning permission. Planning permission is needed for many forms of development, ranging from installing a satellite dish on a listed building, to building a new housing estate. The planning service deals with around 1,000 applications a year.

Learn more about making a planning application, how to apply and how to view and comment on an application.


If something is built without planning permission, or if conditions attached to planning permission are not followed, the council can use enforcement powers to regularise the situation. Enforcement is important in ensuring that everyone stays within planning law and the conditions of their planning permission. Learn more about enforcement.

Planning Aid for Scotland (PAS)

PAS offers a free, impartial and confidential planning advice service, provided by specialist volunteers, all of whom are chartered planners. PAS helps individuals and community groups to get involved in the planning system in an impartial, open and inclusive way.

Visit the PAS website