Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Why the A96 Corridor?

In a continuing effort to try to understand how and why the proposals for the A96 Corridor emerged in the way that they did, APTSec has turned to the first National Planning Framework (NPF).

The text in paragraphs 10, 36, 51 and 163 below is taken from the National Planning Framework - published in 2004 - and
was informed by existing national planning policy, the Executive’s Cities Review, data held by the Executive’s Transport Group and the views of Highland Council, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Scottish Natural heritage and a range of other stakeholders. Stakeholder seminars were held in Inverness in the autumn of 2002 and the summer of 2003

10. “Although they have distinctive identities, the
Northern Highlands and Islands, the Central Highlands and the Southern Uplands have some key similarities. They all have low population densities, sparse settlement patterns and valuable natural heritage and cultural resources. Primary industries such as farming and fishing have declined and opportunities for economic diversification are being pursued. They have also supported substantially larger populations in the past and their capacity to absorb more development without damage to the environment is considerable. The success of parts of the Highlands and Islands in creating new economic opportunities and reversing long-term population decline points to the potential of our remoter rural areas.

36. Inverness is the main administrative, medical, retail and leisure centre for the
Highlands. It has grown a lot in recent years, it’s population increasing by a third since the 1970’s. The environmental resources of the Highlands support a substantial tourism industry and make Inverness a city able to offer a high quality of life. Sectors such as retailing, public administration and business services have expanded significantly. However, the city’s economic base remains relatively narrow and there is a need to diversify and attract a wider range of high quality jobs.

51 Inverness provides the only scheduled air services from the Highlands and Islands to London and a domestic air transport gateway to the Islands

163. Inverness needs to develop it’s role as the Highland capital, broaden it’s economic base, improve it’s connections to other cities and the rest of the world, and attract a wider range of high quality jobs. Inverness and the Inner Moray Firth is an economic development zone with considerable potential. To the east of the city, the A96 corridor and the airport offer opportunities for future expansion.

Thus the Corridor had been placed on the NPF 'radar'

The consultative draft (of the since Adopted Inverness Local Plan) had been published in June 2001, and had stated:

"The Local Plan deals with the 10 year period to 2011. however, it includes a longer term vision spanning the following decade to 2021."

The local plan stated that,

"Beyond 2011, new forms of urban growth will be required at the heart of the sub region." And,

"The Structure Plan acknowledges the scope for new sustainable community forms (see previous post) in the longer term...Such Settlements would automatically look to the City and town of Nairn as 'poles' performing the principal higher order service centre functions. They would be designed for 3-5000 persons each, with a walkable radius of 500m and core facilities up to primary school level. Their high density residential cores would foucs on bus/rail halts and taper to larger family houses and small-holdings around the settlement edges."

Compare that with the master plan proposals for the A96 Corridor which were then announced in a council press release in May 2005.

Hence what is still a non-statutory master plan for area does not carry forward the Local Plan 'vision'

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