Key Policies

Information on Scottish legislation and policies relating to the historic environment.

This page is currently being updated – April 2024

Our Past, Our Future – The Strategy for Scotland’s Historic Environment

Our Past, Our Future (OPOF) was published in 2023 and is the refreshed five-year strategy for Scotland’s historic environment. OPOF replaced the previous strategy for Scotland’s historic environment; Our Place in Time (OPiT) which was published in 2014. OPOF is situated in a larger policy landscape and works in tandem with other strategies such as the Culture Strategy for Scotland, and the National Planning Framework (NPF), among many others. The strategy advocates a collaborative approach to the process of valuing, caring for and understanding the historic environment.

Our Place in Time – The Historic Environment Strategy for Scotland

Our Place in Time – The Historic Environment Strategy for Scotland provides a vision and framework for co-ordinated action across the diverse range of people involved in looking after our historic environment. It advocates a collaborative approach to the process of valuing, caring for and understanding the historic environment. The Strategy serves to promote and integrate the value of the historic environment across Government policy agenda. It also seeks to co-ordinate activities across the sector around a shared purpose.

Historic Environment Scotland Act 2014

The Act received Royal Assent on the 9th December 2014 establishing Historic Environment Scotland (HES) as a new Non Departmental Public Body, which took over the functions of Historic Scotland and the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland. In addition to changes to legislation reflecting HES’ role and legal status, the Act changed processes for the designation of sites and buildings and for scheduled monuments, listed buildings and conservation areas consent. It also created new rights of appeal against certain HES decisions.

Historic Environment Scotland Act: Secondary Legislation 2015

Following a consultation period, secondary legislation was laid before the Scottish Parliament on 4th June 2015 and came into force on the 1st October 2015. The following are the instruments of primary operational interest.

Scottish Historic Environment Policy Statement 2016

This statement replaces the Scottish Historic Environment Policy for operational matters and is provided to inform planning authorities in their consideration of historic environment related planning applications.

The Planning (Listed Building Consent and Conservation Area Consent Procedure) (Scotland) Regulations 2015

The Listed Buildings (Notification and Publication) (Scotland) Regulations 2015

The Scheduled Monument Consent Procedure (Scotland) Regulations 2015

The Scheduled Monuments (Notification and Publication) (Scotland) Regulations 2015

The Scheduled Monuments (Appeals) (Scotland) Regulations 2015

Historic Environment Circular 1 2016

A circular covering requirements of the secondary legislation (the regulations) relating to the Historic Environment Scotland Act 2014.

Historic Environment (Amendment) (Scotland) Act 2011

A technical amendment act which, among various technical amendments, introduced the COINTL (Certificate of Intention Not to List).

Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015

The Community Empowerment Act empower community bodies through the ownership of land and buildings, and by strengthening their voices in the decisions that matter to them. It improves outcomes for communities by improving the process of community planning, ensuring that local service providers work together even more closely with communities to meet the needs of the people who use them.

Asset transfer Guidance 2017

Part 5 of the Community Empowerment Act introduces a right for community bodies to make requests to all local authorities, Scottish Ministers and a wide-ranging list of public bodies, for any land or buildings they feel they could make better use of. Guidance has been developed for both relevant authorities and community bodies.

Scotland’s National Planning Framework

The National Planning Framework for Scotland 3 (NPF3) (Scottish Government 2014a): sets out the Scottish Government’s strategy for Scotland’s spatial development for a period of 20 to 30 years.  It also designates 14 national developments. Planning authorities are required to take account of NPF3 policies when drafting development plans and making development management decisions.  NPF3 is accompanied by a regularly updated action programme and the Scottish Government provides updates on the implementation of NPF3.  The National Planning Framework must be revised at least once every five years, although Scottish Ministers have the option of not revising it and issuing a written explanation as to why they have chosen not to do so.

Scottish Planning Policy

The Scottish Planning Policy (Scottish Government 2014b) sets out national planning policies which reflect Scottish Ministers’ priorities for operation of the planning system and for the development and use of land.

Creating Places

Creating Places (Scottish Government 2013d) sets out national policies on architecture and place making.

European Landscape Convention

The European Landscape Convention of the Council of Europe promotes the protection, management and planning of European landscapes and organises European co-operation on landscape issues.

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