Overall councillors seemed pretty confident that the consultation exercises carried out on the HwLDP plan were good. Although only 299 formally recorded responses were received it was felt that this relatively 'low' number reflected the fact that people were satisfied with the Development Plan and the planning process in Highland.
I must admit APTSec found it difficult to understand Councillor Prag's point which said something along the lines of; consultation responses coming from a point that is against development. Surely the public agencies that responded have no remit to raise trivial points and development interests were putting forward sites and comments in support of sites.
I re-read the 2005 White Paper recently and was particularly drawn to the paragraph:
Development plans must make provision for development. Scotland’s future depends on it. We need jobs, houses, services and utilities to enable the people of Scotland to fulfil their hopes and aspirations as individuals, families and communities. But that does not mean development at any cost or in any place or to any standard. There are consequences from badly located, ill considered and poorly designed development. The growth areas of today cannot become the regeneration priorities of the future
The White Paper stated that planning:
…should always give the public the opportunity to influence the future development of their communities, and ensure that their voice is heard and considered.
It also noted:
Decision makers are regularly faced with well argued representations reflecting different, in some cases conflicting, positions. These different perspectives can be equally valid.
APTSec would prefer to think that equally valid rather than anti-development stances were being expressed by those who did not write specifically to support a particular development or write within their agency remit.
Mary Scanlon also came in for criticism (from Cllr Park I think) for the views she expressed on Planning in the Nairnshire. However, speaking last, Councillor Marsden did express concern that it did worry him that people do not know about the development plan.
Well, it would certainly suit APTSec if the general consensus amongst the public was that everything in the garden was rosy then perhaps APT could ride off into the sunset confident that everyone was well educated in the ways of planning and capable of setting down their well informed views as the correct time in the process.