Wednesday, 7 October 2009

'Cities Review'

Extract from an HC report 290503

The Review of Scotland’s Cities was announced in December 2000 around the time when
Inverness gained City status. The publication of the Review was launched by the First
Minister on 9 January 2003. The Review aims to put Scotland’s cities at the centre of
Scotland’s economic growth and dynamism with each city having a key role for its
surrounding region.

The Scottish Executive asked the Councils within which each of the cities are situated to
work with Community Planning partners to develop a City Vision for submission to the
Scottish Executive by end of May 2003. A Cities Growth Fund has been established by the
Scottish Executive providing £90 million over the next 3 years of which £3.1 million has
been allocated to Inverness. The City Vision is required to set out how this money is to be

Following the award of city status to Inverness and the “Organising the City Region”
involving a wide range of organisations and business interests a City Partnership has been
established. The City Partnership includes representatives from the Council, Highland &
Islands Enterprise, Inverness & Nairn Enterprise, Inverness City Centre Management
Initiative, Inverness & District Chamber of Commerce, HOST and UHI. The main aims of
the City Partnership are to promote a co-ordinated approach amongst public agencies, the
business community and others in implementing the City Vision; agreeing outputs, targets
and timetables; identifying and pursuing funding; and consulting with wider interests on
the future of the City of Inverness.

More information can be found here

And the Inverness City Vision May 2003 thus prepared found here with interesting comments regarding the A96 on pages 2 and 4. Why not note the following comments:

"The population of the Inverness built up area will double to some 100,000 persons by 2030. Inverness & Culloden will be home to some 60,000 citizens, Nairn 10,000, whilst a further 30,000 people will reside in a series of new communities laid out on best ‘garden city’ principles along the intervening A96 corridor." And,

"The Executive will at last complete the dualling of the A96, whilst city traffic will flow that much more smoothly on the long overdue Southern Distributor and CrossRail links"

This non-statutory vision formed part of the basis of the master planning work for the A96 and note how the A96 Corridor framework has departed from the vision.

Members of the Inverness City Commitee were asked to agree the preparation of a new city vision in April 2009

"Searching for Community"

For those who would like to further their insight into what makes a 'community'; I thought that these comments from a book review looked interesting:

"He is critical of romantic, homogeneous notions of community, and talks knowledgeably about the complex dynamics of community politics and passions."

"From our different perspectives we came to very similar conclusions: that communities are elusive, complex and riven with divisions and differences"

The full review can be found here

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'

"nation of homebuilders"

Shadow housing minister Grant Shapps has outlined how the Conservative Party would create a "nation of homebuilders."

See Planning Daily for full article

Monday, 5 October 2009

70% of World's Population in Cities by 2050?

"We need the open and tolerant culture of cities to liberate people and stimulate innovation but we also need cities to grow in smart ways, or they will destroy farmland and forests, drink dry the reservoirs pollute the waterways and impose unacceptable costs in energy use and carbon emissions."

[Cliff Hague, Commonwealth Association of Planners secretary-general]

Planning Daily reports that, "Urban planners hold the key to meeting the challenges of climate change and natural disasters, according to a major UN report today."

Qualities of an Advocate

"An advocate must have complete integrity of character. He or she must carry the seven
lamps of advocacy – honesty, courage, industry, wit, eloquence, judgment and

Representatives of the Faculty of Advocates; Roy Martin QC, dean of the faculty and Ailsa Wilson, an advocate, gave evidence to the Scottish Parliament's Communities Committee on Stage 1 of the Planning etc (Scotland) Bill. The Official Report of the meeting is very interesting with the advocates evidence beginning at column 2988.

Sunday, 4 October 2009

Strictly lost the costume plot?

Perhaps it is all the stress of planning issues but I seem to be becoming a miserable, cynical old so and so; take my views on my usual diversion into matters theatrical, Strictly come Dancing, for example.

To start with I didn't have the patience to sit through the whole thing; Bruce's Jokes grated on me more than usual; the costumes seemed to be the worst I had ever seen on the show; I could not bear the fact that he seemed to praise the new judge every time she made a comment that had any substance to it; I longed for someone to talk about 'a flexible spine'; several of the music choices seemed to hinder rather than support the novice dancers; 'favourites' seemed to be emerging that had little to do with ability (not that I know much about dance technique).

Forgive the brief rant.

Back to planning....

Quote of the week

"I realised that on land we don't see things as precious any more. We take what we want. And it started to make me think. I was looking at plans for the future and it hit home."

"This world, that I thought as a child was the biggest, most adventurous place you could imagine, is not that big. And there are an awful lot of us on it. And we're not managing the resources that we have as you would on a boat because we don't have the impression that these resources are limited."

[Dame Ellen MacArthur Interview published 041009]