Saturday, 21 November 2009

Apologies for delay in posting

Good afternoon

I am currently fighting against time and lack of brain power as I try to complete the draft APT response to the Main Issues Report. The last week has been busy with a lot of research and some interesting meetings and phone calls - all planning related.

The Dev Plans Team feels that they are complying with the National Standards for Public Engagement. They have fulfilled some requirements but there was a lot more that could and should have been done in my view.

I would be interested in your views in this regard. If you could spare the time to help out please look at the checklist here

Many Thanks


'Buildings across Highland'; Culloden Battlefield Visitor Centre

The Visitor Centre; Culloden Battlefield

(Designed not to detract from its surroundings)

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Views in the HIE area: Nairnshire


Glowing views of the Charrette?

It seems that the use of charrettes to engage with the public is becoming very popular.

Moray Estates held the first one in the Highlands I believe:

Extract: Architect's Journal

"In September this year (2006) Andrés Duany captured the imagination of the UK media when he ran an 11-day workshop in Inverness to draw up a masterplan for a new settlement, to be called Tornagrain. Duany's debut in the UK came about because DPZ has always had strong links with the Prince's Foundation.

Day one of the Tornagrain charette consisted of an opening address by Jim Mackinnon, the Scottish Executive's chief planner, and a mass tour of the site. Meetings with local planners, Scottish Water and highway engineers followed. Throughout the period the design team gave pin-up demonstrations to locals."

people and tell us

"Design Charrettes are 'a fun and innovative way to engage the public, especially in projects where there is a significant landscape, streetscape, or other interesting design element.

Design Charrettes are public workshops that include community members, design professionals, and other project staff. Charrettes can take place in a single session or be spread out among two or three workshops. The goal of the charette process is to capture the vision, values, and ideas of the community - with designers sketching to create alternatives and ideas as fast as they can be generated by the participants."


Did we enjoy the Charrette in the Highlands?

Did the Charrette set out to capture the vision and ideas of the community as highlighted (extract above) on the web site?

What really changed as a result of the public input?

Why did the Chief Planner for Scotland give an opening address?

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Confusion on Nairn Housing??

Calling anyone from Nairn who can shed light on an issue APTSec is troubled by; please holler now!

Please look over:

A96 Growth Corridor Development Framework page 18; fig 3 - Nairn Framework Plan

Exhibition Board 4 plan for the development at Delnies currently under consideration

Power Point presentation by S Davidson (slides 11-15)

Practically Delivering Smart Growth for the Highlands - A Success in Collaboration

So how many houses are they planning for West Nairn and exactly where?

(I have the full notes on the S.Davidson ppp but the file is 25mb please contact me if you wish a copy)

Monday, 16 November 2009

Views in the HIE area: A96 Corridor

Views North across the proposed site for the 'New Town' near Tornagrain

Consideration of MIR responses

Highland's Elected Members have been informed via their PED Committee report on the

'Implementation of the A96 Corridor Framework'


"A lot of work has been carried out since March 2009 on the implementation of the framework. Most significantly, the consultation on the Main Issues Report ended on 9th November 2009, and a range of comments have been received on the content of that document as it relates to Inverness and the A96 Corridor. It is important that these responses are considered and the strategy is reassessed to be brought forward through the Proposed Plan. As noted above, it had been intended that the Proposed Plan would have been available in Autumn 2009. This timescale has now been altered, and the revised date for the Proposed Plan is for early 2010. Only once the scale and content of representation to the Main Issues Report is known can a definitive Committee date be set out."



APTSec does understand that the Planning Authority needs to be 'seen' to be listening to those that they are consulting with by the Government - they have boxes to tick after all.

The fact that they have lost so much of my trust and confidence in the past means that I am sceptical as to whether or not they will take any of the well researched points we have made on board; however it does not mean that we should not continue to make them.

Quotes of the week: The A96 Corridor; part 1

Regarding the proposals for the A96 Corridor

"There do remain a number of key infrastructure delivery and phasing challenges which need to be resolved."

"It is essential that the Council has confidence that the necessary commitments are in place before decisions are taken on these major planning applications. This was an important issue raised by communities during the preparation of the Framework."

Yes, important issues raised by the Community, over and over again.

The Committee report from which these statements have been taken can be found here

Consortium formed for Housing Fair

In Wednesday's Planning, Environment and Development Committee meeting Members will be recommended to note the considerable progress being made in the development of both the Housing and the Event elements of Scotland’s Housing Expo which is scheduled to take place at Balvonie Braes, Inverness for the month of August 2010. There are 55 houses and flats on 27 plots which were designed by 22 architectural practices.

Five contractors have formed a Joint Venture company – known as the
Highland Construction Consortium Ltd. to act as principal contractor on site for the Highland Housing Fair. They have evolved common site management rules and each is contributing site
manager resources to jointly manage the whole site. They are:

William Gray Construction Ltd.
Tulloch Homes Express
O’ Brien Properties
Robertson Highland
Morrison Construction

The contractors themselves are building 8 houses for sale. Highland Housing Alliance have commissioned the remaining 24 private houses on the site with the financing of this being provided by a loan from the Royal Bank of Scotland which is being underwritten by the Scottish Government.

The report to Committee states:

There are currently no further financial implications for the Highland Council for the rescheduled 2010 Scotland’s Housing Expo Event. Should the event not proceed the Expo Company would be liquidated with any outstanding debts being met from public sector resources, including the Highland Council.

If the private houses are not built to budget and there are cost over-runs or if they fail to achieve their projected selling price, the financial risk will be borne by the Highland Housing Alliance in the first instance. Ultimately part of this could fall against the £1.4m loan for the site purchase and servicing provided from the Council’s £10m Land Bank Fund (£5m of which came from the Scottish Government).


I have just been sent this link by a contact:

"Taxpayers may Face Housing Expo Bill"

See P and J at link above

Planning Committee Agenda for 18th November

The Highland Council Web site announces and meeting papers are available on line for:

A meeting of the Planning, Environment and Development Committee (which) will take place in the Council Chamber, Council Headquarters, Glenurquhart Road, Inverness on Wednesday 18 November 2009 at 10.30am.

Webcast Notice: This meeting will be filmed and broadcast over the Internet on the Highland Council website and will be archived and available for viewing for 12 months thereafter.

Agenda items include:

  • Highland Housing Fair 2010
  • A96 Corridor
  • Nigg Development Masterplan and Appropriate Assessment
  • Aquaculture Framework Plan for Loch Nevis: Consultation Report and Plan Revisions
  • Fort William Wider Waterfront Study
  • Dingwall Riverside Development Brief

Sunday, 15 November 2009

"Dry Weedy Ditches in 5 years"?

APTSec's eyes and ears were drawn to a rather disturbing item on the BBC news this morning.

The BBC news web site reports:

"Thousands of people enjoy the peace and quiet of Britain's canals every year. However, the calm waters could soon become a political battleground.

Environment ministers are apparently determined to resist plans by the Treasury to sell off the land and properties that line the waterways. The sale could raise £500m.

You can find the news report film here and the essence, if I have understood correctly, is that British Waterways manage and maintain Britain's Canals at a cost of £120m per annum and 40% of this money comes from income generated by the £500m property portfolio that BW has. If the Treasury sells the assets - bang goes the income.

Given that it was announced in October that Scotland's first official canoe trail is to be created along 62 miles of waterways from Fort William to Inverness and that British Waterways Scotland estimates that about 2,500 enthusiasts already use the canal each year and spend £75,000 locally, to lose this revenue would surely be a blow.

Check out the Caledonian Canal News via British Waterways Leisure web site,

Did you know that "...over half of the UK population live within five miles of a canal or river..."?

Views in the HIE area: Carrbridge

The Old Packhorse Bridge at Carrbridge