Thursday, 8 September 2011

What could be planned for your area?

Back in January The Highland Council asked local communities, landowners and developers to help it identify land in the Inner Moray Firth which should be built on and which should not. The areas of land put forward for consideration can be found at the links below:

Inverness call for sites responses here

Nairn call for sites responses here

Ross and Cromarty East call for sites responses here

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Stop Press; discussion programmes for hearings now available

Highland-wide Local Development Plan Examination hearings 2011. Please click on the links below:

[Invited participants -(taken from earlier DPEA communication here )

1. Highland Council
2. Graham + Sibbald (Dereck Mackenzie (35))
3. Halliday Fraser Munro (Tulloch Homes (57), Fairways Leisure Group (69))
4. James Barr (MacDonald Estates PLC (98)
6. Strutt & Parker LLP (Balnagown Castle Properties Ltd (229))
7. Mackay, Robertson & Fraser (183) ]


The reporters wish to have parties’ views on the relationship between the existing development plan and the proposed Highland-wide Local Development Plan, in

(a) The extent to which the plan is clear in its purpose of providing a strategic
overview as a successor to the Highland Structure Plan, and in the
structure of the plan itself.

(b) Whether the plan has the right balance of site specific proposals relative to
the forthcoming area local development plans.


Leading from item 1, this will examine the overall spatial strategy in broad terms,
focussing on the specific area of the A96 corridor. The reporters will wish to examine
the benefit of concentrating on the A96 corridor in some detail, in contrast to other
areas that are being left to the forthcoming area local development plans. Some
representations have queried the relationship between the proposed plan and the
forthcoming area local development plans in terms of site allocations and the
reporters will wish to consider this issue.


Representations have been critical of the plan’s growth projections, and resulting
housing allocations, both in terms of them being too optimistic, especially in the
current financial climate, but also in not providing adequate deliverable building land.
Taking into account guidance in Scottish Planning Policy, the reporters will wish to
look at the figures in relation to the HNDA and the GROS projections. They will wish
to examine the translation of the agreed figures into the specific housing allocations
as reflected in table 1, and the extent to which this has been followed up in relation to
the A96 corridor. They will consider individual proposals in so far as they relate to
the representations made by those participating in the hearing under issues 85 and

[Invited participants - (taken from earlier DPEA communication here )

1. Highland Council
2. Nairn West Community Council (101)
3. Nairn Resident Concern Group (209)
4. C Stafford (272)
5. EMAC Planning (Barratt, Robertson and Scotia Homes (333))
6. Muir Smith Evans (Mr C Allenby 220))
7. WYG Planning and Design (Cawdor Maintenance Trust (325))


The reporters wish to have parties’ views on:

(a) whether, in addition to the documents listed above, there are other
documents of special significance in relation to the proposed plan; and

(b) the extent to which these documents should control or influence the
reporters when they make their recommendations.


Under this item, the reporters envisage discussion of plan proposals for:

(a) Tornagrain
(b) Croy
(c) Cawdor
(d) Whiteness


(a) Residential development in Nairn in overall terms

(b) Other development in association with residential development at Nairn as a

Main Examination page here

Links to individual representations here

Links to issues ('schedule 4 form' format) here

Monday, 5 September 2011

Why we should Champion Planning

Some interesting extracts from the latest item on the 'Chris Brown Blog'

The Government** seems to be misjudging the growing pressure wave of resistance to the proposed changes in the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF).

the line trotted out ad nauseum by Government politicians and their big business supporters that the planning system is preventing the development of homes and the creation of jobs is just nonsense. I won’t trot out the facts about the scale of allocated sites in local plans or the pipeline of sites with planning permission but it is clear that it is currently mainly credit markets and reduced public funding of affordable housing that are contributing to the slow down in housing completions and starts.

Most rational people can see what is happening here. The planning system has gradually become slower, more bureaucratic and more expensive. The developers, who are often frustrated more by the planning policies preventing the worst of their excesses than by the system itself, are trying to use the inefficient system as a reason for removing the policies it is intended to deliver.

fundamentally this is a problem of markets. Markets do not deliver affordable housing where the jobs are. And Governments can’t do this either. We would do better to have a rational debate about what we are trying to achieve, what the best tools to achieve those objectives are and only then about how the planning system can help achieve some of them.

I was reminded of something a planning academic once told me;

"The reason why I would always support (and indeed, I often 'champion') planning as a system/activity/profession is because without it - we are left with only the market, and with market allocation of land, land uses and all the things that come with that (goods, services etc). So, outside all the bunkum that you've no doubt read about the planning system being there to do x, y and z (which is it's purpose, of course) - really the reason we have a planning system is that we as a society decided some time ago that the use and development of land should be regulated and strategically provided for. That means that all the red tape and regulation you're currently working through is supposed to be there to ensure that land is developed in a way that doesn't just suit the landowner, but contributes something to broader social/environmental/economic goals. Now, that of course is the key question for debate - and where planning becomes very politically contested (as you know) over whether a development constitutes something that contributes to such goals, and even what the goals should be."

**NB 'English' Government

[Newsnight on taxation; first part of the programme here ]

Remember the Web Casts / 'Blogger Ejected'

Highland Council web casts council meetings. THC web page says:

As part of our commitment to making the decision making process as open and transparent as possible, we webcast public meetings that are held in the Council Chamber, Inverness.

You can watch Council meetings conducted in public LIVE or view the archived version which is available within 48 hours of broadcast and remains online for 12 months.

Apparently not all local authorities have got around to doing this yet as the BBC news item below describes:

Ruling members of a council which called police to eject a blogger recording one of its meetings are being urged to allow filming in the future.

Carmarthenshire council's executive will consider a motion calling for the public to be allowed to film meetings.

Carmarthenshire council said it has since launched a review of the use of new technology in the way it provides services to residents.

One of the issues the committee is looking at is the possibility of video streaming council meetings via the council's website.

Perhaps they should have embraced new technology sooner?

[Link to BBC page here ]