Saturday, 18 December 2010

Sandown Lands Nairn

"The Highland Council has agreed to rescind, without penalty, the missives it signed with Deveron Homes Ltd over the development of the Sandown Lands, Nairn.

Deveron Homes, who entered into an agreement with the Council in August 2007, asked to be freed from the agreement after failing to receive planning permission for a major housing development on the western outskirts of the town due to the proposed density of the homes being too high.

The development potential of the Sandown site, owned by Nairn Common Good Fund, is now to be reassessed with a preparation of a Development Brief, which will take into account a public local inquiry and consultation with the local community.

A report will be presented to the Council’s Planning, Environment and Development Committee in March 2011, setting out the timescales for the preparation of a Development Brief for the Sandown Lands and the form of community engagement to be used in the process."

Extract from THC News Release web page published 17/12/10

Friday, 17 December 2010

Asda has gone to the Court of Session to challenge Highland Council’s decision...

From the Press and Journal today (thanks to APT contact for info)


Retail giant Asda has gone to the Court of Session to challenge Highland Council’s decision to grant planning permission for a £500million new town on the outskirts of Inverness, it was revealed yesterday.

Applicants Inverness Estates, a consortium of developers, plan to build 2,500 new homes, a primary school, shops, a community building including a library, a restaurant and cafe, hotel, health centre and church at the site at Stratton Farm, east of Inverness. The development would be in four phases over the next 20 years.

An Asda spokeswoman said a statement would be issued later.

Read more:
Read more:

The planning application for 'Stratton Farm New Town' was put in front of the full council on 15 September 2010 prior to the start of the consultation on the Proposed Highland-wide Local Development Plan.

The Policy Assessment in the committee report for the 15 September noted:

Although there is a measure of support in the Structure Plan Spatial Strategy (paragraph 1.6 of Structure Plan) the application proposals do not fully comply with the planning guidance as set out through the Specific Land Use Policies and Proposals in the Inverness Local Plan, therefore, the application is overall judged as significantly contrary to the approved Development Plan.

However, the most up to date local land use planning framework against which to assess the application proposal is set out through the Highland wide Local Development (HwLDP) rather than the Local Plan (on the basis that the Local Plan does not cover the first years of occupation of the proposed development). The HwLDP has now gone through a process of statutory consultation and is informed by community engagement and the best available information and predictive modelling. This application is therefore being brought forward and is capable of being in in general conformity with the HwLDP Proposed Plan with regard to uses, 17 levels of development and phasing once a Section 75 legal agreement has been put in place.

The extract from the 'Policy Assessment' above mentions that the HwLDP had gone through 'a process of statutory consultation', this was the Main Issues Report for the HwLDP; however as you will have noted from the previous blog post, there was still a long way to go in the statutory Highland-wide Local Development Plan process as a whole in terms of finalising the Proposed Plan - a Plan with which the application ' capable of being in in general conformity with...'

In order to facilitate this early consideration of the planning application you may recall that councillors of the Planning, Environment and Development Committee, agenda item 9, agreed (amongst other things) on the 11th August 2010 that:

Current major development schemes at Tornagrain, Cawdor and South Nairn (and any which were subsequently submitted) which did not have adopted Local Plan support in full or in part, and which were identified in the Highland-wide Local Development Plan, be taken forward in the context of the ongoing Local Development Plan work and no decisions taken on these schemes until the results of the examination of the Plan were known; and

All proposals in the A96 corridor which had a measure of adopted Local Plan support (in full or in part) could be determined in advance of the Local Development Plan Examination in line with updated guidance in the Proposed Plan;

The proposals for the Stratton Development fell under the latter point in that they were judged to have "...a measure of adopted plan support...".

It will be very interesting to read the promised statement made on behalf of ASDA, although at the determination of the planning application on the 15 Sept the council's solicitor had stated in response to what the P and J describe as ASDA's '11th hour objection':

"Those of you Members that are on the PED committee will be aware that on the 11th August it was agreed that the East Inverness application could be determined ahead of the Highland wide development plan examination – that’s the part of the process where objections to the plan are examined by a Scottish Government reporter. Therefore there’s already democratic governance of this particular matter. Given the decision by PED my advice to the Council is that this application can be determined today. If you decide to determine the application following the hearing that’s going to take place, this is a procedural decision and it may be challenged by any third party; but it is up to that third party to take that decision. Obviously it is for them to decide. However, I’m satisfied that the Council has grounds to defend the decision to proceed to determine the application today. Thank you, Chair"

[The Stratton proposals themselves had emerged from the A96 masterplanning exercises for East Inverness (which formed the basis of the concise strategy document the 'A96 Growth Corridor Development Framework')

Details of the emergence of the Stratton proposals can be found in the 'Update Newsletters' (see immediately below) and other information (also listed below) from the Council web site's A96 Corridor Masterplan page

Update Newsletters


Questions and Answers: Part 2


If an LDP has 'emerged' as far as publication of the PP - but this PP still awaits consultation and examination - can the thought be entertained that once the PP is published then that is it and the rest of the development plan process is just a 'formality' with the likelihood of any significant alteration being made to the PP as a result of a representation being a remote possibility?


"...there is still a long way to go in terms of finalising the Proposed Plan once it is published for consultation, particularly if representations and objections to the Proposed Plan can't be resolved. Generally, the Reporters recommendations are binding, so they will have to be incorporated into the plan. During this consultation and examination stage, it is therefore still possible for stakeholders to get objectionable policies (open space designated for housing, proposed route of a new road etc) removed from the Proposed Plan if the Reporter feels that they are not appropriate."

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Important questions and even more important answers: Part 1

Isn't it amazing that after at least 5 years of being involved in local land use planning issues, carefully studying planning matters and seeking advice from many sources, the 'basics' of the planning system still seem to elude me.

Recent events have made me question the whole reason for the existence of planning as a discipline and I sought advice from a Planning Aid Scotland volunteer. I asked 2 basic questions, the first of which was:

Why is it specified that there should be a consultation on and an examination of a Proposed Plan? (What purpose do these exercises fulfill in terms of the planning process?)

The answer given was:

"...consultation on an emerging, or the proposed plan, allows for key stakeholders (members of the public, neighbouring councils, businesses (e.g. house builders), and statutory bodies (e.g. Scottish Natural Heritage and the Scottish Environment Protection Agency)) to comment on the policies contained within the proposed plan. Different stakeholders will each have different views as to how land use policy should be proposed within this plan. The comments received as a result of this consultation exercise will then be taken into account to finalise the proposed plan, which is then submitted to the Scottish Ministers. If there are still representations from stakeholders that have not been resolved, the proposed plan is then subject to examination (for all intents and purposes this is a planning inquiry). The examination will be undertaken by a Reporter, appointed by the Scottish Ministers, and the local authority have no role in determining who this Reporter will be. It is then the Reporter's responsibility to assess the outstanding representations on the Proposed Plan and ultimately report on how the representations should be taken into account (if appropriate), such as re-designating sites, policy areas etc."

The next question was:

If an LDP has 'emerged' as far as publication of the PP - but this PP still awaits consultation and examination - can the thought be entertained that once the PP is published then that is it and the rest of the development plan process is just a 'formality' with the likelihood of any significant alteration being made to the PP as a result of a representation being a remote possibility?

The answer will follow in PART 2