Saturday, 19 December 2009

Private meetings and nosh.

Further to a recent post on the motion to open up ward business meetings to the public, the latest on THC web site states:

"The Highland Council has reaffirmed its policy of holding in private business meetings held between ward members and their ward manager and other council officials.

A motion proposing that Council meetings should start at 1 pm – instead of 10.30 am – to save the council money on providing meals for councillors was withdrawn.

During the discussion, Councillor Carolyn Wilson, Chairman of the Resources Committee, reported that a cross party working group of councillors was considering measures to ensure that members’ spending was as cost effective as possible. She said that catering was an area being examined to ensure value for money."

For full item click here

Friday, 18 December 2009

So just what will it take to make a project viable?

The planning system is there to promote, facilitate and regulate development in the public interest. The impact of development, much of which is irreversible, on the lives of individuals and communities can be very significant depending on its nature, scale and location. The planning system is also primarily concerned with long term investment decisions.

Planning Daily notes today that:

"Concern over a lack of understanding of development economics has prompted property and planning organisations to commission research on better training..."


"Councillors and other professionals involved in spatial planning need a better understanding of how developers deal with risk and return. Councillors often seek higher section 106 contributions, including affordable housing provision, than schemes can bear. Other professionals make belated requests for financial contributions or on-site provision of facilities in new developments without appreciating the impact this may have on the scheme's viability."

Whilst I appreciate that the English and the Scottish planning systems have their differences, I think we all need to become aware of the concept of development economics.

The Planning Advisory Service has a page on this

There is also a very interesting on line brochure from GVA Grimley

GVA Grimley has also prepared a 'Draft Guide on Development Viability' for the Scottish Government - Directorate for the Built Environment - (July 2009) which APTSec is about to print out and look over.

Thursday, 17 December 2009

Meetings, meetings,meetings...

Just in case keen eyed followers / visitors hadn't already spotted this:

Highland Council gives notice of meetings on its web site and produces a 12 month timetable of HQ meetings.

Visit the web page here

The HQ timetable can be found by clicking on the link under 'Current Documents' on the HC web page.

More cost effective public information?


The Scottish Government is consulting on changing the law to allow public notices, like planning applications or road closures, to be advertised online in place of newspapers.

The move will allow councils to use a new public information notices portal, saving millions of pounds and enhancing local information services about the area.

The consultation on the draft Local Authority Public Information Notices (Electronic Publication) (Scotland) Order is open until February 12, 2010.

For the rest of the item click here

APTSec is itching to hear your views

The City Vision 2010

APTTreas has noticed that there is a 'new kid on the block'. The Highland Council's Inverness City Vision 2010 blog can be found here

Let us know what you think of the blog and its content

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Quotes for this week:2

APTSec came across this quote recently in "Democracy, A Very Short Introduction" by Bernard Crick. (I confess to being guilty of buying books on politics and economics in my desperate attempt to determine a context for what is going on in planning)

"Man's capacity for justice makes democracy possible; but man's capacity for injustice makes democracy necessary"

[Reinhold Niebuhr]

Quotes for this week

I came across this thought provoking sentence in a power point presentation enititled 'Utopias' (viewed as an HTML here) which seems to have been given by Professor Anthony Pratkanis (University of California)

"The fundamental issue for a society is to create enough equality / responsibility to insure productivity but not so much as to create revolutions."

Confused about renewables:part 2

What do the following people have in common?

Tony Juniper
Former Executive Director, Friends of the Earth

Peter Ainsworth MP
Shadow Secretary of State for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs

Sir David King FRS
Chief Scientific Adviser to the UK Government, 2000–08

Lord Oxburgh KBE FRS
Former Chairman, Royal Dutch Shell

Chris Goodall
Author of Ten Technologies to Save the Planet

Prof Ian Fells CBE
Founder chairman of NaREC, the New and Renewable Energy Centre

Duncan McLaren
Chief Executive, Friends of the Earth Scotland

Prof Mike Ashby FRS
Author of Materials and the environment

Robert Sansom
Director of Strategy and Sustainable Development EDF Energy

Dr Derek Pooley CBE
Former Chief Scientist at the Department of Energy, Chief Executive of the UK Atomic Energy Authority and Member of the European Union Advisory Group on Energy

Prof Robert Hinde CBE FRS FBA
Executive Committee, Pugwash UK

They have all read and given their views on the book,

'Sustainable Energy — without the hot air' by David Mackay.

David MacKay is a Professor in the Department of Physics at the University of Cambridge. He says of his book, which was published in 2009:

"I didn’t write this book to make money. I wrote it because sustainable energy is important. If you would like to have the book for free for your own use, please help yourself: it’s on the internet at This is a free book in a second sense: you are free to use all the material in this book, except for the cartoons and the photos with a named photographer,
under the Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-Share- Alike 2.0 UK: England & Wales Licence. (The cartoons and photos are excepted because the authors have generally given me permission only to include their work, not to share it under a Creative Commons license.) You are especially welcome to use my materials for educational purposes. My website includes separate high-quality files for each of the figures in the book."

I have reprinted these extracts from the following web page please click here

All I want for Christmas

APTSec has been thinking about what she would like on her Christmas 'planning' list and for those who feel so inclined what I need most is help and support.

Could you just keep an eye out in the press (notices for any major planning applications in Highland especially) and on the Council and Government web sites for any planning related info and most particularly keep in touch with the HwLDP blog which can be found here

Given that in the last post on the HwLDP blog the DP Team states:

"The Development Plans Team are currently going over all of the responses to the main issues report. When we are doing this we are summarising and pulling out key points made, which topics have been responded to and how we will deal with each response.

In some cases we will simply be addressing the points when we bring forward the proposed plan, in other cases we may need further information from the respondent to be able to fully address their response or have a meeting with the respondent to discuss through their response. We will be holding these meetings early 2010 and we will be posting a brief summary of these meetings online..."

Then we all need to keep as up to speed as we can.

The sequential nature of the decision making process in the planning system and Highland Council's desire to use supplementary guidance as a means to further the progress of plans requires that we should not take our eyes off the ball for even one moment. A single pair of eyes can get quite tired, but lots of eyes reading and evaluating and discussing and scrutinising and sharing views on the implications of what is read can only be a good thing for all Highland Communities.

Thank you and please do feel free to keep in touch with me.

For your interest

A meeting of The Highland Council will take place in the Council Chamber, Council Headquarters, Glenurquhart Road, Inverness on Thursday, 17 December 2009 at 10.30am


9. Notices of Motion

The following Notices of Motion have been received in accordance with Standing Order 10.1 –

(i) “That the practice of holding Ward Business Meetings in private be abolished and that where, in line with relevant legislation, items can be discussed in open, the press and public be admitted for that part of the meeting where these items are discussed.”


Mr D Bremner, Mr R Balfour, Mr G M Smith, Mr D J Chisholm, Mr J Crawford

For details of other items to be mentioned at the meeting (Common Good, Allotments Policy, Audit Scotland report 2008/2009... visit the meeting agenda on the Highland Council web pages here

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

New parking restrictions for Harbour Road

Click here

Do you commend Highland Council?

From the council web pages:

Over the next six months, The Highland Council will be preparing a new City Vision for Inverness, to replace the one prepared in 2003 – and the public are being urged to get involved by suggesting their top priorities for action.

A series of one-day Future City Vision events will run from Wednesday 20 January until Friday 22 January, 2010 for people from local communities, businesses, schools and colleges and the voluntary and public sectors.

Interested parties should contact Conan Farningham, Development Plans Team, Planning and Development Service, The Highland Council. Tel: 01463 702291 | Email: The public can also have their say online at:

Trevor Muir, Chief Executive of Architecture and Design Scotland, said: “A+DS are delighted to support Highlands Council in the process of discussing what kind of place Inverness could be. This is a challenging question. The only real answer can emerge from discussion on the ground. We commend Highlands Council, both the leadership and the officers for committing to the agenda of creating and maintaining places where people want to be, particularly in the context of the national agenda of reform of the planning system.”

To read full article click here

Let us hope that they make a better job of it than the last City Vision which was the non-statutory well stream from which '30,000 people residing in a series of communities along the A96 Corridor' (and all APTSec's stress) flowed.

The 51 council houses

From the Highland Council web pages:

'The Highland Council is delighted that it has been successful with its bid for £1.275 million funding to the Scottish Government to support the construction of 51 new Council houses.

The housing units are earmarked to be built on Council-owned or Highland Housing Alliance sites - at Caol (8 units); Dingwall North (10 units); Invergordon (12 units); Corsee, Nairn ( 9 units); and Scotsburn Road, Tain (12 Units).

The new housing will be mainstream two and three bed properties with the exception of those at Nairn, which will be designed for older people or people with other health needs. All the new properties will be comparable to the new energy efficient homes recently developed by the Highland Housing Alliance at Kildary.'

Broadband for rural Scotland

Extract from Scottish Government web pages:

Following talks with the Scottish Government to identify rural areas needing improvements, BT has already started work on upgrading 71 telephone exchanges. The first upgrades will be complete from March 2010.

The exchanges - in Argyll, Ayrshire, the Borders, Dumfries and Galloway, Forth Valley, the Highlands and Islands, Lanarkshire, Lothian, Moray, Orkney, Renfrewshire, Shetland, and Tayside - are all operating at or approaching full capacity for broadband provision.

For full article click here

Confused about renewables?: part 1

The Association for the Protection of Rural Scotland has a policy on wind Farms:

"This policy is intended to support the in-house work of APRS when responding to planning consultations concerning individual wind farm developments. In addition it may be useful to underpin any representation that APRS decides to make at a public inquiry or when giving guidance to local community groups who wish to formulate a view about a development in their locality. The policy does not set out to be comprehensive in its coverage of all the planning, landscape and natural heritage issues that might be raised by a particular wind farm development. Rather it focuses on visual and amenity matters as representing the core interest of APRS. First published in 2003, the policy was reviewed in September 2005 in an attempt to take account of the increasing number and scale of wind farm developments being submitted for approval."

The full item is available here

Devon Supermarket Challenge

Planning Daily reports:

A High Court wrangle between supermarket giants Sainsbury's and Tescos over their plans for the town of Dawlish in Devon has opened today.

For the full item click here

Monday, 14 December 2009

Strictly let her down

So, let's just get straight to the point; why didn't Ali B receive any support for her obvious nervousness? In other series, celeb after celeb received extra coaching here and there to help with issues seem as inhibiting their performance. This is a dance competition for trainees, and all additional help and support should be provided and the producers have already set precedent by helping others in the past.

There is no doubt that Mr W proved a formidable partner in the Argentine Tango and Mr H clearly now enjoys performing, but they too have their flaws, which strangely enough did not seem to affect the audience vote on Saturday.

Rant over