Friday, 13 July 2012

2011 Census - latest info

The release of a Highland Council Briefing Note 52 -  Population Projections to 2035 - recently with the attendant press publicity made me wonder how the data processing for last years census was progressing.

I came across this item:

Extract from the Prospectus note:

This prospectus is an active document and will be updated as more information becomes available and arrangements are confirmed. A summary of changes to previous versions will be provided with each new update. To register for email notifications of updates to the prospectus, or to discuss any aspect of our plans for release of Scotland’s 2011 Census results, contact us at

The website provides further background to Scotland’s census, including a wide range of frequently asked questions about the arrangements for taking the census, what questions households were asked and why. NRS will continue to use the Scotland’s Census website to promote and inform the public in the lead up to the release of 2011 Census outputs.

...The census has long been the benchmark for capturing a comprehensive, consolidated and accurate snapshot of the population. However, the traditional 10-yearly census cycle means that the accuracy of the data and information derived from the census baseline, such as annual population and housing estimates, can degrade over the intercensal period.


...Due to the breadth and depth of the 2011 Census results, the statistics on the main resident population base (usual residents) will be published in tabular format across four release phases.

First release: December 2012 – Population estimates by five year age bands and sex, and estimates of number of households for Scotland and council areas. (Scotland level population estimates by single year of age and sex will be issued as supplementary data after the first release.)

Second release: from early Spring 2013 – Key and Quick statistics; Census Profiles; Headcounts and Geography products.

Third release: from early Summer 2013 – Local Characteristics.

Fourth release: from early Autumn 2013 – Detailed Characteristics.


The Aforementioned 'Briefing Note 52' sets out that;

If the trends experienced during the period from 2005 to 2010 continue, the population of Highland is expected to grow by 15% to 255,835 in 2035.

The operative word there being 'If'.  Figure 2 (on page 3 of the Briefing note) shows historic (and projected) population change since 1951.   Given that the note accompanying the graph states that the rate of growth is expected to be similar to most of the post war period, then a very crude attempt at drawing a 'best straight line' through six decades worth of points gives a 2035 population of a little more than 240, 000.  Of course, if we continued the line on the graph representing the steepest rate of growth from '81 to '91 then we would see an increase in population in excess of 270,000.  It all depends on the economic conditions.  

Courier reports, 'Work to start at Ness Castle housing development'

The Courier article begins:

WORK will begin shortly on one of Inverness’s largest private housing developments after the Scottish Government gave it a £1.9 million "kick start".
The scheme to build nearly 1000 homes and a primary school within the former estate of Ness Castle, off Dores Road, stalled despite receiving planning consent in 2009 because banks were unwilling to back it.
But it has now become one of the first, and largest, beneficiaries of Holyrood’s new Housebuilding Infrastructure Loans Fund, receiving the money towards the £3.98 million cost of building a new access road and a roundabout...

Rest of article can be found here

In a related item here on the Scottish Government web site dated 11 07 2012 Housing Minister Keith Brown is quoted as saying:

“The current tough financial climate, exacerbated by Westminster's short-sighted and economically damaging capital spending cuts, has made it hard for companies to take forward major housing developments across Scotland.
"These first loans that I have announced today will help companies speed up their plans to build the roads or lay the pipes and cables that mean housing developments can proceed.
"We have revised the criteria for the next round of funding, untying the red tape so that more companies can come forward with their infrastructure proposals.”

This Government web site item also includes a link

Some insight into the issues faced by the development interest at Ness Castle can be found in the submission made on their behalf to the HwLDP Main Issues Report back in late 2009

....By way of background, the council resolved to grant planning permission in 'principle' for residential development on the Trustees landholding at Torbreck, Ness Castle earlier this year subject to the conclusion of a Section 75 Agreement in relation to inter alia developer contributions and agreement on the accompanying planning conditions (Reference 04/00585/OUTIN)

...this representation focuses on those issues still to be finalised with the council in relation to my client's land interests, namely affordable housing and developer contributions.

There then follows more detailed discussion of the Client's issues after which it is emphasised, in the section that covers developer contributions, that:

...developers cannot be expected to make good existing deficiencies within both the immediate and wider area or in relation to that which goes beyond their own specific proposals.

The full submission can be found at this link here

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

'Lack of Transparency' of Flood Site Allocations

I have only just noticed this on today's e planning:

A majority of councils are allocating land for development on floodplains without 'transparently assessing' the potential for accommodating growth in other areas, according to a study by the government's climate change adviser.
By Ben Cook Wednesday, 11 July 2012
The Report in the headline is 'Climate Change - Is the UK preparing for flooding and water scarcity?' and it is an 'Adaptation Sub-Committee Progress Report 2012'.

The report Executive Summary advises:

...The Adaptation Sub-Committee (ASC) has a statutory duty to report regularly to
Parliament on the UK Government’s progress in delivering its adaptation programme.
In our first two reports, we developed and piloted a toolkit to assess progress in preparing
for climate change, including use of adaptation indicators.

In this report we apply the toolkit at a national level to two of the largest risks to emerge
from the UK’s first Climate Change Risk Assessment (CCRA): flooding and water scarcity.1
Many of the effects of climate change in the UK will be felt through changes in the
water cycle. Climate change is likely to increase the frequency and severity of floods and
droughts. Without action to prepare, this could lead to increasing costs and unnecessary
damage and disruption.

But what about Scotland and the Scottish Government?  Well, there is a footnote on page 19 which states that:

2 UK National Adaptation Programme will cover England and reserved matters. The ASC also has a duty to report on progress in Wales, Scotland or Northern 
Ireland if requested to do so.

The report then provides a link to, 'How well is Scotland preparing for climate change?' by the ASC November 2011.

I have not had time to read the reports fully but I have noted the following paragraphs on Land use planning starting on page 27, extracts below;

5.1 Land use planning

5.1.1 Importance to adaptation

The land use planning system is a priority area for adaptation action, because it is
a primary mechanism for determining how vulnerability to climate change can be
managed, particularly in towns and cities. Land use planning decisions can directly
help to increase resilience to climate risks, but can also lock future generations into a
development pathway that increases vulnerability or one that will be very costly to
maintain or reverse.

The land use planning system is one of the most important adaptation functions
delivered by local government. Local authorities are responsible for preparing the
strategic policies in the ‘development plan’, on which decisions about individual planning
applications are based. Policies set out what is expected of development in order for
planning permission to be obtained. They identify specific locations or set criteria for types
of locations that are suitable for particular land uses, and also stipulate particulars of the
design of new development. Local authorities also make decisions on individual planning
applications considering national and local planning policies to determine if a development
proposal is acceptable.

Local authorities face difficult trade-offs when planning the future of their localities.
The costs to the local economy of constraining development in areas at risk from climate
impacts could be significant. The options that they have available will be determined in
part by the availability and suitability of alternative sites for development.

From our analysis (Figure 5.1 and Table 5.1), national planning policy and strategic
guidance look to be well developed on adaptation through the National Planning
Framework.46 Local decision-makers are being required by the policy framework to
explicitly consider and account for the implications of climate change and adaptation
responses when planning for their communities. The high uptake of sustainable drainage
systems in new development suggests that the policy framework is having some
success here.

However, we were not able to find much evidence on the effectiveness of national
planning policy on influencing decisions on the location of new development. There
is a lack of data on recent trends on the amount of development in areas of flood risk or
behind eroding coastlines, which may be affecting the vulnerability of communities to
climate risks. We could also not find data on changes to the area of hard surfacing and
the amount of greenspace in urban areas.

The recently published Scotland Greenspace Map47 will provide a baseline against
which future changes in the amount and type of greenspace can be tracked (Box 5.1).
Urban greenspace provides a number of important adaptation services, including reducing
surface water run-off rates and the intensity of the urban heat island effect.48 Monitoring
changes to the extent and type of urban greenspace is therefore an important indicator of
preparedness for climate change.

The analysis and summary of findings wrt to planning continue for several pages and as always it is certainly worth dipping into the report to gain insight.  

It seems to me that record keeping is not a strong point when it comes to potentially contentious issues such as the use of prime agricultural land or building in areas of flood risk.

What do you think?

Why we should put forward views; National Planning Framework - Scotland

This is how a  Scottish Government web page describes the National Planning Framework;

The National Planning Framework (NPF) is a strategy for the long-term development of Scotland's towns, cities and countryside. The NPF is about shaping Scotland's future and is concerned with how Scotland develops over the next 20 years and how to make that possible. The NPF identifies key strategic infrastructure needs to ensure that each part of the country can develop to its full potential.

A copy of the Second National Planning Framework, NPF2, can be found here

As a newly formed group, APT made one of its first major tasks to raise awareness of the consultation on NPF2 - very few people locally had been aware of the  consultation on the first NPF - by sending an 'APT Alert', an 'Urgent Action Bulletin', to every Community Council across the Highland Council area.  

Here are snippets of what was included in the APT 'Urgent Action Bulletin' in 2008 (A copy of the 'NPF2 Discussion Draft' can be found here):

...The proposals included for the Highlands and Islands in the draft NPF2 will have significant implications with regard to the Local Planning Process.

The National Planning Framework will provide a strong context for development plans and planning decisions.

The second NPF sets out the Scottish Government’s strategic development priorities.  There will be close links to the Government’s Infrastructure Investment Plan and the investment programmes of public agencies and infrastructure providers.  It is a key element in modernising the planning system.

The Planning etc (Scotland)Act 2006 places the second National Planning Framework (NPF2) on a statutory footing.  There is a commitment to review the document every 4 years.

The publication of the discussion draft is part of the process of engagement and debate on Scotland’s long-term ‘Spatial Development’ to 2030.  It sets a national context for development plans.

APT also indicated in the bulletin that concerns re 'awareness of' and 'consultation on' the NPF2 had arisen locally:

There is concern about:

·         The level of community awareness in some areas regarding the existence of the National Planning Framework;
·         The level of community awareness about the significance of the draft NPF2 with regard to the local planning process.
·         The potential lack of widespread public awareness that the Local Authority are seeking to influence the draft NPF2.
·         The level of community consultation locally on the NPF proposals to date.

Well, I still have concerns, as you will find from the content of future blog posts on the subject of NPF3.

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Scottish Government - proposed planning reforms assessed

Oh dear, I seem to have missed this rather interesting piece which appeared in early June 2012:

...In an attempt to boost economic growth, the Scottish government has recently published a series of proposed planning reforms for consultation. Colin Marrs assesses them.  Here

'Housing & an Ageing Population'

Interesting item on page 04 of Feb 2012 issue of Scottish Planner

It ends:

...local planning authorities are going to have to pay greater heed to the needs of this element of the population than they appear to have done certainly in policy terms in the past.

NPF3 to decide where windfarms to go? Update 1

According to an item in 'Planning; Energy and Environment Weekly - Monday 09 July 2012':

'Planners can help the Scottish government meet its renewable energy targets if they get the right support, according to a report published by the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) Scotland.'  The report can be found here.

The Item continues:

'The Scottish government aims to generate 30 per cent of all the country’s energy needs from renewable sources by 2020, as well as reduce energy consumption by 12 per cent.
In its report, RTPI Scotland describes the targets as "challenging" but says the Scottish government should provide planning authorities with "guidance, training and resources to help them cope with the additional responsibilities and workload brought about by the targets".
The report also says that the planned National Planning Framework 3 (NPF3) provides an opportunity for the Scottish government to outline in spatial terms where the most suitable areas for land and marine renewable developments should be.
These locations should be, the report argues, "based on maximising generation whilst minimising impact", and integrated with plans for transport and distribution infrastructure.'

I have had a quick gander at the briefing report and here are a few extracts:

...This paper identifies the need for a clear, consolidated outline of Scotland’s
progress towards meeting the targets. It also puts the case that an opportunity
still exists in National Planning Framework 3 (NPF3) to support renewables
development by clearly articulating the areas best placed for them based on
maximising generation whilst minimising impact. The paper also outlines the
ongoing need to keep Planning Authorities up to date, given constantly
changing technologies and the requirement to promote a ‘diverse range’ of
them to help meet the targets.

...National Planning Framework 2 (NPF2) did not provide a broad spatial
scheme outlining renewable resources and desired developments across
Scotland. If it had, Planning Authorities would have had a national perspective
on their Authority’s role in meeting renewables targets, and could havetargeted their 
resources and designed their development management processes to support speedy 
processing of planning applications.

...Recommendation 1
Use NPF3 to provide national spatial guidance (land use and marine) on
the appropriate distribution and energy mix of renewable developments
across Scotland, publishing updates on progress made towards
meeting the targets and providing guidance on criteria for Local
Authorities and Key Agencies to use when responding to renewables

I recommend a read of the report, it is quite accessible and compared to many free from too much jargon.  

One thing that is not clear to me is whether or not a 'need for such developments' would be established through NPF3.
(I have just tried to contact Craig McLaren **(on list of speakers at the page reached by clicking on his name), National Director of RTPI Scotland, since, according to the briefing paper, he is the point of contact for further discussion.  I hope to be able to chat with him in the not too distant future and will update the post as soon as further info becomes available.)

** Podcast where Mr McLaren discusses a number of things including renewables, sustainable economic development, charrettes...

Stakes and Society

The first person who, having enclosed a plot of land, took it into his head to say this is mine and found people simple enough to believe him was the true founder of civil society. What crimes, wars, murders, what miseries and horrors would the human race have been spared, had some one pulled up the stakes or filled in the ditch and cried out to his fellow men: "Do not listen to this imposter. You are lost if you forget that the fruits of the earth belong to all and the earth to no one!” 

Jean-Jacques RousseauDiscourse on Inequality**, 1754

**According to 'Wikipedia' Rousseau argues moral inequality is endemic to a civil society and relates to, and causes, differences in power and wealth. 

I am not exactly sure what is meant by the term 'Civil Society' and it seems that I am not alone - as is related in this item by 'Michael Edwards'

More Rousseau quotes here