Thursday, 6 August 2009

Few days break

APTSec is taking a short break until the 11th August.

Please do keep watch for the papers (on the council's web site under minutes and agendas) for the Planning, Environment and Development Committee meeting on the 12th August.

Why not think about going along to the council meeting?

Planning and Politics

It would not be surprising if you recognised that our objectives are what the planning system has always sought to achieve and which the radical changes introduced by The Planning etc (Scotland) Act 2006 now actually seeks to implement more fully; APT founding members chose the objectives to align with the best principles of planning taken forward through planning modernisation.

‘Access and participation’ is one of the 4 founding principles of the Scottish Parliament. The Parliament is designed to be accessible, open and responsive, with its procedures promoting a participative approach to the development, consideration and scrutiny of policy and legislation.

It is from the heady mix (or unholy alliance) of planning, politics and power that our all difficulties stem.

At the most basic level, power implies the ability of any individual or group to bring abut immediate and visible change in the behaviour or other people. Our experience and research leads us to conclude that there is a distinct inequality in the balance of power and influence within the planning system. We are governed by a representative and liberal democracy, but the planning system is one area which would benefit greatly from more direct democracy. This is what we believe the planning reforms set out to achieve – better place making through community involvement.

Regrettably with the longstanding links between business and Government and MSPs voting according to their party line it is possible for the views of powerful lobbies, particularly that of the building industry to dominate when policy is being developed.

In what, if those in authority are not extremely careful, could be described as a ‘war’ between developers and communities, arming the community with the skills to debate what is best for an area, (which is in the best interest of both the community and the high principles of planning), is not likely to be interpreted by the building industry, (and hence by some Politicians) to be compatible with delivering as much land release for development and profit as possible.

It is Wellworth taking notice!

A planning proposal for 5 town houses at the rear of Woolworths in Nairn is becoming the subject of some interesting and very informative postings on the Gurn from Nurn.

I won't repeat what the Gurn says but it does highlight a few important things:
  • Neighbours now have 21 days to raise concerns further to notification
  • From now on the Planning Authority not the applicant will need to undertake the neighbour notification
  • A slight confusion that I have; is it not possible for a copy of an application to be made available at the service point? I have viewed copies of major applications there.

I agree with the Water Lane resident with respect to paying attention to this application but would take the comment one stage further; there are always likely to be competing and conflicting demands in the system and the system needs to be fair and balanced - however do take care because through insufficient consideration unacceptable precedents could be set.

Monday, 3 August 2009

The pro's and con's of local decision making?

"In Government we will be less prescriptive in setting planning policy centrally and will let local circumstances drive local decisions and innovation. We will instead focus in the future on identifying and spreading good practice across Scotland. And we will take a more proportionate approach to notification and call-in of applications, recognising and respecting the important role of local authorities in planning decision-making"

(Finance Secretary John Swinney; major Planning Summit in Edinburgh 28/10/2008)

"Deveron Highland has lodged an appeal against Highland Council’s Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey Planning Committee decision to refuse its outline planning application for 550 houses, a business park, community facilities and wetland park at Sandown, Nairn.

Deveron Highland has decided to appeal this refusal and allow the Scottish Government to have its say on the future of Nairn."

(Deveron Highland press release 30 July 2009)

Deveron Highland is not suffering as much as other development companies in the current climate, and is not burdened by a large land bank. We have Sir Tom Farmer’s Maidencraig Investments behind us ‐which, if successful, will allow us to deliver this development to the highest possible standard.”

(Gordon Ramsay, Managing Director of Deveron Highland: Deveron Highland press release 30 July 2009)

So what is it that Deveron is trying to say here?

[Details of Deveron's appeal can be found at the DPEA web site

Current status - Not yet ready for allocation to reporter

Method of Determination - Public Inquiry]

Scoring political points

APT is non-party political; as a group we could be described as a 'pretty mixed bunch'.

Over the years many APT members have written to or popped along to see several of our politicians.

So how many politicians have fulfilled the expectations that APTSec has had of them? Well, that would of course be telling and is between me and my mark on the ballot paper. But, what I can reveal is what ticks the box for me as far as a politician is concerned:

My top 5 wants:

1 Someone who listens carefully whilst digesting and understanding the often complicated and detailed issues put before them

2 Someone who demonstrates that they are clearly interested in the community that they serve - not just spouting platitudes or using us for a photo opportunity as a means of rampant self promotion.

3 Someone who is astute and savvy

4 Someone who has the political clout to be able to act on principle and be respected for it

5 Someone who sees questioning and evaluating their own actions as a strength rather than a weakness

Countdown to Development Plan

14 days to go