Friday, 27 January 2012

From 8 to 3 Options; Courier reports working group meet outcomes

A PREFERRED route for taking the Inverness bypass over the River Ness and Caledonian Canal has been whittled down to three options.
A working group of 15 councillors met in private this morning to consider the findings of a consultation into eight options for the route, which will link the Southern Distributor Road with the A82.
However, at the end of the meeting, no decision had been made on a preferred route - although options two, three, four, five and eight were ruled out.
Further information has been requested on options one, six and seven - the high-level bridge and the public's preferred route.
However, before that, the outcome of the consultation and the options will be discussed at a meeting of Inverness City Committee on 13th February.
This meeting is open to the public.
The working group will meet again on 17th February.
After that a recommendation will be made to a meeting of the full council for approval.
The options range in cost from £23.5 million to £75.5 million. Controversially, several would cross Whin Park, Torvean Golf Club and Highland Rugby Club's pitches.
A public consultation on the options attracted 400 responses. Link here

Thursday, 26 January 2012

"What the Reporter Said" A short series of highlights

Introducing a short series of quoted paragraphs taken from the HwLDP Examination Report

Highlight 1
The Reporter Stated:

16. The Council has made it clear it has no intention of adopting the A96 Growth Corridor
Development Framework as supplementary guidance. It was accepted at the hearing that whilst it remains in place as background information, the statutory role is that of the Highland–wide plan, which incorporates the necessary elements of the framework. The latter has played its part and effectively become part of the planning history of the area.

I would welcome further suggestions for Report Highlights

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Route Options for A96 Alignment / Nairn Bypass; public consultation work begins

From THC web Press Release here

Consultation Events for A96 Improvements and the Inner Moray Firth Local Development Plan (24/01/12)

Transport Scotland has begun a public consultation process on a number of route alignment options for improving the A96 between the A9 at Inshes and Auldearn including a bypass of Nairn. 
Two public exhibitions have been arranged at the Court House, Nairn on Monday 6th February (2-7pm) and Balloch Community Hall on Tuesday 7th February (also 2-7pm) at which interested members of the public can view the displayed route options. 
Respresentatives from Transport Scotland, along with their Design Consultants URS, will be on hand to discuss the proposals.  Comments have been invited by Transport Scotland on their options between 6th February 2012 and 31st March 2012.   Further details are provided on the Transport Scotland web-site at  These are long term proposals and are separate from recent planning decisions taken in East Inverness at the Beechwood Campus and Stratton.

Anyone wishing more information on the project should contact Major Transport Infrastructure Projects (MTRIPS), Transport Scotland, Buchanan House, 58 Port Dundas Road, Glasgow, G4 0HF.  Telephone: 0141 272 7100

The consultation events will also allow people the opportunity to view initial work carried out by The Highland Council’s Development Plans team on the Inner Moray Firth Local Development Plan, which was agreed by the Planning Environment and Development Committee on 18th January 2012. 

Although the consultation on the plan and the route options are separate, there are close linkages between development proposals and the long term strategic transport improvements being put forward by Transport Scotland.  The choice of routes will have important implications for the planning of the A96 corridor, which the Council has earmarked for significant growth. Accordingly, planning officials will also be available at the same venues to explain how trunk road and planning issues overlap. 

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

What's been 'thrown out' and what is 'up for grabs'?

The Inner Moray Firth Local Development Plan  - Main Issues Report

Don't Panic folks! This is just a draft of the 'Main Issues Report' that went to PED Committee this week so that councillors can have a gander at it and note the proposed consultation arrangements.

Why not find out what is planned by listening to the web cast of the Planning Environment and Development meeting, agenda item 9, at the link here

Planner Mr Stott gave brief presentation and councillors raised questions and congratulated officers for the hard work.

So, in that presentation for the IMFLDP, Main Issues Report, what development was described as having been, 'thrown out'?

What is described as 'up for grabs'?

What  very interesting comments did Councillor Chisholm make?

Hear Councillor Gray express the view that he feels that sometimes officers need patience when dealing with members of the public.

Hear that the 'Proposed Plan' stage will have getting on for a 1000 sites so there will be a lot of neighbour notification; mmm?  Interesting comment given some  earlier statements in the presentation about not prejudging the outcomes of the consultation on the MIR.

Listen as Mr Stott talks about 'mixed use' sites.

However, in a response to a question from Councillor Chisholm, Mr Stott also said that the Reporters' conclusions were that they didn't think the '25% rule' worked and they (Reporters') did not back it in any way through the HwLDP; mmm, that was not my precise interpretation I will go back and check on exactly what the Reporters said and update this post.

In the meantime, back to basics, why not check out this brief and interesting power point presentation on the nature and purpose of Main Issues Reports click here

As always your views on this would be welcome

Update as promised

My understanding is that the assigned Reporter was, given the limits of his remit, only able to consider this ‘25% rule’ or ‘25% policy’ (or anything else for that matter) in so far as it had been presented as part of the written submissions to the HwLDP.  In this respect representors lobbied to have this rule still applied to development in the main smaller settlements in the A96 Corridor, namely Ardersier, Cawdor and Croy.  The Reporter noted the following:

14. Regarding the “25% in ten years” limit, I find that this is a general policy which applies to a variety of communities – local centres, key villages and small settlements – across a wide area. The A96 corridor is distinct from this because it has been identified as a growth area. My conclusion is that the 25% limit need not be retained in the A96 corridor.

As far as I can find through a document search on the examination report, this is the most comprehensive and clear reference that the Reporter makes re this rule.

Of course, what I cannot understand is the role that the Strategic Environmental Assessment work done for the A96 Corridor Masterplan played.

The SEA for the A96 corridor, which was presented for consultation at the same time as the masterplan work in March 2007 noted that:

7.4.5 Expansion of several existing Corridor villages is a key component of the draft Masterplan – these are identified as Culloden Moor, Croy, Ardersier, Cawdor and Auldearn. Each of these communities has the benefit of existing Local Plan land allocations for residential and community uses. These commitments comprise almost 500 additional dwellings, with capacity for up to 1000 additional residents overall.

7.4.6 Any proposals to increase or amend these allocations will need to respect Highland Council guidelines controlling the margin of expansion to no greater than +25% during any ten year period, and should undergo full public consultation in 2007.

Much is made that the A96 Framework was approved in 2007.  But the ‘approval’ took place over two committees with the main ‘approval’ (of the work carried out as part of the A96 Masterplanning) done in March and the approval of the ‘Framework’ document –the Framework document was to be merely a ‘concise strategy document’ based on what had been approved in March and was not in itself subject to any separate public scrutiny or consultation – done in September.

In March, the appendix to the committee report noted that:

6.2 Cawdor is already recognised in the Strategy as a key village capable of expansion. There is an existing stock of zoned land and planning consents here. Given its special built conservation value, any additional proposals will need to pay particular attention to the heritage considerations, and will require to be progressed through the formal development plan process. The rate of development should respect the threshold of a maximum 25% housing increase in any given ten year period. Development will be liable to the developer contributions framework.

Highland planning decided that it wanted to jettison the 25% rule at some point after these commitments were made.

The Reporters can only look at the facts through the HwLDP issues, they cannot delve further into the A96 Corridor as Supplementary Guidance that is not within their remit

Sunday, 22 January 2012

No real joy as yet from my letter to Minister

The latest correspondence with the Scottish Government further to my email to the Minister:

From APTSec

Wed 04/01/2012 14:41


Thank you for taking the time to talk to me this afternoon.

I have attached the correspondence to the Reporters’ unit as promised.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Wed 18/01/2012 12:30

Good afternoon

I was just wondering how you were getting on since I had not heard from you.  I hope that you have not been unwell?

Thu 19/01/2012 16:47

Good afternoon

I have just become aware of a consultation re ‘Administrative Decisions made by Public Bodies in Scotland…’  I am told that comments on the attached discussion paper are due in by the end of January 2012.  I am looking into the possibility of submitting our experiences re having issues but there being no effective mechanism by which our problems could be addressed other than through the courts.  Do you think that this particular consultation would benefit from access to our experiences?

From Scottish Gov


First of all apologies for the delay in getting back to you.

Having spoken to x, it would seem that there are no further avenues open to you to make representations in respect of the development plan process. However as we discussed, the Scottish Government are always keen to receive views on experiences of the planning system, and more generally on the operation of government and local government, and how we can improve it.

I would certainly encourage you to submit your views to this consultation.

You may also wish to note that Planning Aid for Scotland have recently produced a booklet  Planning for Community Developments which while primarily aimed at people looking to submit an application, provides information on how the public can be involved in planning decisions. I attach a copy for interest.


So more work to do then but I cannot help but feel that we are not getting anywhere.

Has anyone else who wrote to the Government received any feedback?
How did you feel about it?