Saturday, 27 June 2009

Who Reads the Blogs Anyway?

APTSec was just catching up with a little blog reading and wondered; just how many readers are following the local blogs?

If I get no response to this blog it could mean:

1 No one is reading the blog today

2 No one is reading the blog at all

3 People read but do not want to comment

4 People read but do not know how to comment

5 People read and have nothing further to add

We need to find out if setting up and regularly posting on the APT blog is a useful thing to have done?

Any ideas?

Friday, 26 June 2009

Major Consultation Planned Over Community Council Review (26/06/09)

The Highland Council has just published the following on its web site; information on the Community Council review. See below:

A major review of Community Council arrangements, including boundaries and memberships, is to be undertaken over the next 18 months, including three periods of public consultation.

The Highland Council has agreed to replace the existing eight district schemes with one Highland-wide scheme, based on the Scottish Government’s model scheme which will take effect from December 2010.

The new scheme will consider the size and composition of Community Councils, including boundaries; election procedures, financial support and the code of conduct and associated dispute resolution.

Stage one of the consultation process will begin in September, when the council will announce its intention to revoke the current eight schemes and invite suggestions on the area and composition of Community Councils. This will last for 12 weeks.

The second 12-week period of public consultation will follow in April 2010, after the Council has produced a new Highland-wide draft scheme. This will include discussion at Ward Forums.

A third period of consultation will follow in October, next year, when the public is invited to comment on amendments to the draft scheme.

The new scheme should be presented to the Council for adoption in December, next year.
Councillor Carolyn Wilson, Chairman of the Council’s Resources Committee, said: “This is a significant review of current Community Councils. Community Councils can be assured that they will be consulted all along the way to ensure we produce a streamlined and effective set of new arrangements.”

The Council currently provides Community Councils in Highland with annual funding of £208,951.-ends-

Speakeasy update

Thanks to those members and contacts who have kept us up to speed with an update of the Speakeasy. I have posted some of the information I have received below and will add some more over the weekeend.



1. A meeting intended by Highland Council and the main agencies to reassure developers on the prospects for progress. Timescale for new transport infrastructure opaque. Waste water capacity a real problem in Nairn.

2. Developers apparently not greatly encouraged. Community Council participants excluded from afternoon workshop. Interestingly, almost all discussion outside the formal presentations focused on Nairn-related issues.

3. The audience included representatives from various Community Councils. Developers included Cawdor, Scotia, and Deveron. A list of participants, and an official record, will appear on the HC website.

4. The main session consisted of presentations by HC Planners, Transport Scotland and Scottish Water, each followed by Q&A; then an “open mike” session at which only 2 (of an original 3) who asked to speak took up the 5 minute slots offered. The afternoon session was for HC planners and developers/landowners only.

5 Transport Scotland - The message was that TS couldn’t offer assurances on timescales or funding for transport infrastructure. A general introduction described the distinction between trunk roads (Holyrood responsibility) and local/regional roads (Council). The STPR was not a funding or prioritisation document, nor detailed planning. It had however identified A9 dualling, Nairn bypass, A82 safety improvements, A96 dualling, and Dalcross rail station.

A Ms Irvine form TS said she was working with HC on agreeing the route corridor and junction strategy for the A96, and helping with the design brief. Neither phasing nor route had been agreed, and TS still had reservations over aspects of the Developer Contributions (Section 75) formula and applicability.

A Scotia Homes rep urged lateral thinking on a Nairn bypass and advocated their preferred short-to-medium term option of an inner relief/distributor road, which they could fund provided they were not also expected to pay a contribution to the A96/Section 75 levy as well.

Muir of MSE Consultants urged flexible thinking on junctions: the A96 should not become a motorway, but needed lots of junctions to serve local access.

A representative from 7H Architects warned that without clarity and commitment on a Nairn bypass, development in the town would be blighted for a decade. Developers would begin to look for workarounds (ways of “bypassing the bypass”).

List of attendees to follow.

Thursday, 25 June 2009

Who and What in Planning; Community Councils; Part 2


Community groups have an important role in the planning system and are to be encouraged to get involved in the development planning process and, once the new provisions come into effect, pre-application consultation. While not all community groups are involved in planning matters, there is a wealth of 'resource' in terms of community groups willing to be involved in shaping their environment. They will have a great deal of local information and knowledge which will be very helpful to planning authority and developer alike.

The only type of community group with a formal role in the planning system is community councils who are consulted on planning applications. There are proposals, to be arranged through secondary legislation, to give them a statutory role in development planning. Community councils vary in their extent, set-up and in the issues that interest them so their level of involvement in planning can differ from community council to community council. However, they can be very effective in obtaining and conveying views from their members and from other local community groups. The current role of community councils is outlined in PAN 47 Community Councils and Planning, although this will require updating once the new planning measures are in place.

Community councils should assist planning authorities in terms of their engagement in the planning process. For example, keeping the authority appraised of any changes in circumstances and allowing for appropriate programming of community engagement by the council

When responding to plans and applications it is important that community groups ensure that responses are focused on planning issues as in this way they may be considered a material consideration. If in doubt speak to Planning Aid for Scotland, or your planning authority, about what is and is not a material consideration.

Text taken from PAN 81. APTSec has read that PAN 47 may be revoked - see previous blog on Planning Advice Notes

Who and What in Planning


Local authority Councillors have an important role in planning. It is therefore vital that those elected members who are involved in taking planning decisions understand the operation of the key elements of the new planning system and the ethical issues underlying the handling of planning matters. Scottish Ministers have produced a Code of Conduct for Councillors, approved by the Scottish Parliament, setting out the principles and rules governing the conduct of elected members. The Standards Commission for Scotland has produced Statutory Guidance for Councillors which clarifies their responsibilities in relation to planning.

In terms of ethical standards, there is nothing to stop any Councillor from discussing or debating planning policy and strategy, expressing views, or advocating proposals on policy and strategy. This applies to the development planning process, even though the development plan will provide the framework within which individual applications will be decided.

However, different considerations apply when dealing with individual planning applications. The Standards Commission's Statutory Guidance states:

"Where a Councillor has a responsibility - either at a committee or at the Council - for dealing with planning applications, then he or she must not have - or be seen to have - prejudged any application before the proper occasion for deciding on the application, that is when all the relevant material considerations will be before the meeting that will determine the application.

"A Councillor should not organise support or opposition, lobby other councillors or act as an advocate to promote a particular recommendation on a planning application, (or on a planning agreement or on taking enforcement action) where the Councillor has a responsibility for dealing with the planning application. If the councillor does so, then he or she should declare an interest and not take part in the debate and withdraw from the meeting room.

"This should not, however, be taken as precluding the councillor from raising issues or concerns on any of these matters with the planning officers concerned. Indeed, a Councillor may well have an important contribution to make in respect of an individual planning application or on what the Council should include in a planning agreement. It is entirely appropriate for councillors on the planning committee to make known what representations they have received on a pending planning application, to attend public meetings and to assist constituents in making their views known to the relevant planning officer, provided that at no time does the Councillor express a 'for' or 'against' view by advocating a position in advance of the planning committee meeting to decide upon a particular application."

Text taken from Planning Advice Note 81.

Who and What in Planning

Development Planning

The Scottish planning system is 'plan-led'. Development plans are prepared by planning authorities (and strategic development planning authorities) and set out a vision for how areas will change. They describe where development will happen and where it will not. Planning applications must be determined in line with the development plan unless material considerations indicate otherwise.

The development plan system is undergoing modernisation. In the new system the development plan will consist of strategic development plans (in the 4 biggest city regions only), nationwide coverage of local development plans, and supplementary guidance.

Scottish Ministers develop legislation, national policy and advice on land use planning for Scotland. In the modernised planning system, Ministers will have a role in setting a strategic framework for national developments through the National Planning Framework ( NPF); in approving strategic development plans for the four main cities and their regions and in making decisions on certain types of planning applications and appeals.

The operation of the planning system is the responsibility of planning authorities. In most cases this will be the local council's planning authority (of which there are 32), but may also be one of the 4 new strategic development planning authorities in the main city regions, or one of the 2 national park authorities.

Planning authorities should seek to enhance the quality of community engagement in the delivery of their key roles, including:

Preparing development plans, master plans, development briefs and supplementary guidance:

Deciding on applications for planning permission; and

Taking enforcement action against breaches of planning requirements.
The role of applicants and their agents:

Once the new provisions on pre-application consultation come into force this will need to become common practice across Scotland. Applicants should view pre-application consultation as an opportunity to consult with people to develop proposals which have minimal adverse impacts on communities. Planning authorities will expect applicants to submit good quality, accurate planning applications with all the supporting information identified at the pre-application stage so that processing can commence without delay.

Text taken from PAN 81

National Planning Framework Published

From the Scottish Government web site:

The first National Planning Framework was published in 2004. The Planning etc. (Scotland) Act 2006 puts the National Planning Framework on a statutory footing and provides a national context for development plans and planning decisions, as well as informing programmes of the Scottish Government, public agencies and local authorities. Scottish Ministers are committed to reviewing the NPF every four years.

In announcing the publication of the second National Planning Framework (NPF2), on June 25, 2009, the Cabinet Secretary for Finance and Sustainable Growth, John Swinney said "NPF2 marks a further advance in spatial planning practice and will help to bring additional certainty for investors and planning practitioners in Scotland."

NPF2 has designated 14 national developments of strategic importance to Scotland.
To ensure effective delivery, NPF2 is supported by a proposed Action Programme setting out how and by whom the national developments and other key elements of the NPF strategy will be implemented.

NPF2 replaces the first NPF and should be taken into account in development plan and development management decisions.

Dedication Dedication Dedication

The lure of the beautiful sunny weather has not detered APT faithfuls from turning out at the drop in sessions this week. Though few in number we have maintained focus and continue to work.

APT commitee members made plans yesterday to contact all community councils across Highland during the next few weeks, and we will be taking the message out to the people during the summer months. Watch this space for more details.

We will be setting up a stall at a boot sale to fund raise in a few weeks time and if anyone has an item they would like to donate to the group and could get it to us on or before the day then please contact us on the e mail and we'll give you more details.

Monday, 22 June 2009

John O'Groats 'Masterplan'

The BBC Radio 4 lunchtime consumer programme 'You and Yours' featured an item on the John O'Groats masterplan today, and broadcast interviews with visitors, locals and a representative from HIE, Carol Gunn head of transformational projects at HIE in Thurso.

Today's programme will be available on i player at least until tomorrow when another of the daily shows is broadcast.

There is also an item on providing broadband in rural areas.

Sunday, 21 June 2009

The Vibrant City?

Would you consider Inverness a vibrant City? Full of energy and enthusiasm?

Do you think that it should be vibrant with prosperous and healthy citizens?

Do you think that good planning has the power to achieve the creation of vibrant places here in the Highlands?

Why not have a look at the following links:


What should the City's place in the Highlands be? Where should the Highlands go from here?

The 14th of August is fast approaching when we will ALL have an opportunity to have a say about the sort of place that the Highlands should be.

“What is the city but the people?” WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE, Coriolanus