Sunday, 20 December 2009

Warning, Warning! What is the point of Local Plan?

Over the last few years something that APTSec has become increasingly concerned about is, why do we have development plans?

Look at the Inverness Local Plan (ILP) for instance.

A draft of this plan was put out to a statutory period of 12 weeks of public consultation in 2001 and the draft garnered - so councillors were officially told in 2002 - some 800 responses covering 2000 issues. By 2003 the ILP was at 'Draft Deposit with Modifications' stage and the ILP was examined subsequently by Public Inquiry (April to July 2004). The ILP wasn't adopted until March 2006.

However sometime during this period of statutory consultation ideas were emerging through the Inverness City Vision, for the A96 Corridor in particular.

This non-statutory 2003 City Vision document is the only document that I have found which mentions the vast rate of growth planned for the area to the East of Inverness - 30,000 people to reside in a 'series of new communities'. Both the Highland Structure Plan and the Inverness Local Plan do mention the A96 Corridor, but not this level of growth and I would suggest to the reader that they do their own 'compare and contrast' exercise to see just what each of these documents say with respect to the A96 Corridor. (APTSec has already posted a few times on this blog regarding the details in these documents). There is certainly no clear signal in the ILP that there was an intention to prepare a master plan for the whole corridor; very specific detail as to the preparation of a master plan for the airport (click here and go to page 54) is shown in the ILP, but not for the Corridor.

The point here is that we now have a situation where a piece of non-statutory, so called 'supplementary guidance', the A96 Growth Corridor Development Framework' contains a central premise - that of a new town - which the applicants say the council decided to support in December 2004; that decision is now 5 years old! It certainly appears that the existing Adopted, 'been through a full Public Inquiry', ILP, had barely been examined by the Official Reporter in 2004 before it was "off with the statutory old' and 'on with the non-statutory new'

The non-statutory plan for the A96 now appears to form the bedrock for what is to become the latest proposed plan for Inverness and Nairn; I cannot believe that the new financial circumstances that the world finds itself in will not have an impact on the hugely unrealistic major development proposals for the A96 Corridor.

APTSec now has serious concerns that all the work and effort that has been put in over the last few years will come to nothing if we do not continue to press our case. Under the new Planning Act we are supposed to take an active interest in the planning system and take an active interest in development plans and their relationship to planning applications. It seems that what has emerged is that we were being invited onto a pitch in shabby kit and asked to play with our hands and feet tied. Now it seems that authorities, government and agencies are playing a different game altogether, and have left us to shamble around on the pitch


  1. It is ironic but it seems that an out of date local plan went some way to nearly stopping Nairn getting a supermarket fit for the size of population and worthy of what other towns the same size take for granted in this new millennium.
    So when it comes to development that people do want (there are very few genuine nimbys around when it comes down to it) the act of getting the project through the hoops can turn out just as difficult.

  2. ~Sorry Graisg I have been a wee bit preoccupied with some personal family issues so I have not as yet had time to go through the Reporters comments or the Minister's reasoning properly.

    I think this just highlights the need for everyone to get involved with the preparation of development plans - so that we can really consider the implications of what is planned where. In this case though didn't the local plan make provision for a supermarket in the town, but circumstances conspired against it?

    I would hope that the Minister's decision was made purely on the unique nature of the situation here, and that Nairn Town centre prospers as a result. Hopefully the exising supermarkets will sort themselves out, and come up with some decent competition for Sainsbury's (which is supposed to keep prices competitive).

    Hopefully people will decide to stop in Nairn and not just drive through on their way to Sainsburys. I wonder if the traffic will be a little heavier at first as people come from far and wide to visit the new Sainsburys - might give some extra impetus for a bypass though but I have not read the traffice surveys with respect to any amount of traffic that is likely to be generated.

    With the Deveron Appeal coming up let's hope that the Minister is minded to giving a little more consideration to the local plan, given that divergence from it is one of the main reasons why the Council said they refused the application.