Saturday, 10 December 2011

Changes to SNP Ministerial Team

I received this info via my on-line sign up to the Scottish Government 'Engage for Education' e newsletter.

First Minister Alex Salmond recently announced changes to the Scottish Government ministerial team.

Angela Constance has been named as the Minister for Youth Employment, following the First Minister’s announcement of the new post last week.

Aileen Campbell will move to Ms Constance’s previous role of Minister for Children and Young People, and Derek Mackay joins the government as the Minister for Local Government and Planning. (My underline)

Full item here

Friday, 9 December 2011

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Is 'West Link Road' Option 6 the front runner?

VIDEO: How the Inverness bypass might work

Click here for Inverness Courier web page

Views of 'New Town' on the A96 as seen from a viewpoint at Brackley

More pictures in this report as presented as part of the latest consultation for this 'New Town' on the A96. Click here to access THC e planning pages

Main page for documents here, scroll down for the latest reports some of which I cannot access at this time

The 'New Town' on the A96 from a viewpoint on the A96 near Kerrowaird

More pictures in this report as presented as part of the latest consultation for this 'New Town' on the A96.

Click here to access report on THC e planning pages

Click here to access views from Ardersier;

A Message from 'Planning Democracy

A request from PD

A96 New Town - from a Minor Road above Fortrose

Several very interesting pictures in short report submitted as part of the latest consultation for the Highlands' 'New Town' on the A96 - views of the 'New Town' as it spreads it seems.

Click here to access report on Highland Council e planning pages

Council welcomes Scottish Government’s infrastructure plans

Extract from here

The Highland Council has welcomed the Scottish Government’s plans for substantial investment in Scotland's rail network; the dualling of road network between all of Scotland's cities, including the A 9 Perth – Inverness and the A96 Inverness – Aberdeen road; and the upgrading of the A 82 between Fort William and Crianlarich.

The Cabinet Secretary for Infrastructure and Capital Investment, Alex Neil, made the pledge as he published the Scottish Government's Infrastructure and Investment Plan, which details plans for up to £60 billion of spending right up until 2030.

Key points include:

  • Transport - the Scottish Government will dual the A9 between Perth and Inverness by 2025, with a view to completing dualling of the A96 and the dualled road network between all our cities by 2030; complete construction of replacement crossing over the Firth of Forth by 2016, and invest in substantial rail improvements, reducing journey times between Edinburgh and Glasgow, from Aberdeen to the central belt, Aberdeen to Inverness and on the Highland Main line

  • The plan includes high speed rail, and estimates a cost of £15 billion for completion of the route, from North West England to Scotland, with a Scottish contribution of £8 - 9 billion. Minister's will continue to press for this to come to Scotland at the earliest opportunity, although final decisions on timing and route rest with the Westminster Government

Monday, 5 December 2011

Reneging on affordable housing committments

'Planning' reports:

Leeds councillors have accused developers of using an interim housing policy the city council agreed earlier this year to renege on affordable housing commitments.

Leeds City Council's interim affordable housing policy, agreed in February, included a provision to reduce the percentage of affordable homes that developers must include in their schemes in an attempt to stimulate the local housing market.

But councillors say that six or seven developers, who before the policy was introduced used appeals to overturn refusals of their applications to build on greenfield sites, have since used the interim guidance to resubmit applications that include fewer affordable homes.

Phil Crabtree, the council's chief planning officer, said: "Councillors have become aware that some developers who have benefited from recent appeal decisions for developments with higher levels of affordable housing are now resubmitting applications with the lower targets agreed in February."

A report by the council's regeneration scrutiny board, discussed last week, said the new policy "has resulted in the majority of developers reneging on previous undertakings and providing reduced numbers of affordable homes".

The board recommended that the council's executive board should debate whether or not to reinstate the 2008 housing targets that were in place before the interim policy was adopted. A spokesman for the council said it was likely that this would be discussed early next year.

Mark Lane, a partner in the Leeds office of planning consultancy DPP, warned that the council could "stifle development" if affordable housing requirements were increased.

He said: "It's not developers being greedy. The council's own studies found that housebuilding is not viable in certain areas in the city with certain rates of affordable housing."

More here

Handover of Council houses in Nairn

The first new council houses to be built in Nairn for 16 years will soon be allocated to tenants.

8 2-bed bungalows for older people at Corsee, Nairn, have been completed and have been handed over to the Council by contractor UBC Group Ltd.

Tenants have been identified for the properties and hopefully will move in before Christmas.

The cost of the project is £770,000.

Councillor Margaret Davidson, Chairman of the Council's Housing and Social Work Committee, said: "After an absence of 16 years, it is great to back providing council houses in Nairn. The new homes at Corsee will provide eagerly-awaited accommodation for older people.

"The Nairn homes are part of a wider Council house building programme, currently featuring 202 houses throughout the Highlands. Our longer term target is to build 750 council houses by 2015."

THC web site here

Sunday, 4 December 2011

First in series of Community Engagement events

From Scottish Government web page here


Planning Minister Aileen Campbell will today meet with community and other groups to discuss how to ensure communities are properly engaged in the planning process.

The meeting will focus on how involving local people in planning, especially when a project is controversial, can lead to better decisions and a more efficient planning system.

Ms Campbell will ask people with practical experience of community engagement to talk about which techniques for engaging people have worked in practice, and ways to make sure the system works better.

The meeting, in Edinburgh, will be the first of a series of community engagement events. Ms Campbell will lead similar meetings around the country in the next few months.

Following the meeting, Ms Campbell will meet chief executives of agencies including SEPA, Historic Scotland, Transport Scotland, Scottish Natural Heritage, Architecture and Design Scotland and Scottish Water to feed back the points raised with her at the engagement event, before sharing some of her findings with MSPs at the Cross Party Group on Architecture and the Built Environment.

Planning Minister Aileen Campbell said:

"Planning is at the heart of delivering the Scottish Government's goal of sustainable economic growth.

"But if we want to have an effective planning system, we must also have effective community engagement. Good community engagement can lead to better plans, better decisions and a more efficient planning system.

"I'm delighted to be hosting this meeting, the first of a series, to hear the experiences communities have had of the planning process and to find out what community engagement techniques work in real life.

"I know from experience that not every planning discussion is clear cut. But I want to ensure there is proper dialogue, so that all voices and interests can be part of the debate."

Invitees to the meeting include representatives from Planning Aid for Scotland, Heads of Planning Scotland, the Royal Town Planning Institute and representatives of community groups from across Scotland.

APTSec recently sent the following email to Ms Campbell;

Dear Minister

We have been totally overwhelmed by our experiences of planning over the last few years. One of our members was in touch with PAS recently and Mr David Wood at PAS mentioned that you were keen to find out how the new planning act was performing. For some time now we have felt that our input into the planning system is not meaningful and carries little weight. The new planning reforms have not improved matters and in fact in our particular circumstances have made things worse.

We desperately want to take a constructive part in the development of our community but feel marginalised and it is becoming increasingly difficult to find the motivation to continue. Please could you help us to find a way to restore our faith in the system and please could we send you a note of our experiences to date for your serious consideration.


A Ministerial visit to the Highlands to meet with the community would be most welcome.