Friday, 12 October 2012

What will Highland Council be proposing?

After I read this on Wednesday 10 Oct...

National Developments Proposal Form

The Scottish Government is to prepare the third National Planning Framework – ‘NPF3’ - the spatial strategy for Scotland. This will identify a number of ‘national developments’, establishing the need for them in the national interest. The Scottish Government is therefore requesting the submission of proposals for national developments, using the attached Proposal Form, by Friday 14 December 2012.

Link here

...I sent this in an email to the Director of Planning at Highland Council...

Good afternoon Dr Black

Would it be possible to advise me as to whether or not Highland Council has submitted or intends to submit any ‘National Developments Proposal Forms’ as part of the early stage of the NPF3 Consultation process.

Kind Regards,


...I received a response immediately...

Dear (APTSec)

Thank you for this e-mail. This is to confirm that I have received it and I will reply as soon as possible.

Yours sincerely,

Stuart Black

Hopefully I will be able to update the blog in the not too distant future with the Director's response.  I am working on the assumption that any submission for a candidate National Development will have to go or will have gone before the strategic planning committee, PED - the next one seems to be scheduled for November 14th 2012 (timetable here)

Making the most of communities’ natural assets: green infrastructure

From the S Government web site link here

An information note for Community Planning Partnerships on applying an ecosystems approach.

Monday, September 10, 2012 

The information note is for community planning partnerships, their members and local partnerships involved in economic regeneration. The note explains how communities and those who serve them can use land and water in a way which works with nature to sustain the benefits nature provides. It suggests some practical steps to make the most of green infrastructure and provides links to further information and examples. This note supplements the information note on applying an ecosystems approach to land use published in 2011 alongside the Scottish Government's Land Use Strategy, as well as the National Planning Framework, Scotland's Climate Change Adaptation Framework, the Scottish Biodiversity Strategy, and the Regeneration Strategy. It has been prepared by Scottish Government and its agencies, with input from a range of stakeholders, as a source of information but is not statutory guidance.

Link to Information note here

NPF3 Resource pack

Click the link below for the 'NPF3 Resource Pack' from the Scottish Government web pages

Inverness case study: Visioning at the scale of a small city

Apologies but I have only just come across this now;

Scottish Government Case Study

Organisation        Architecture and Design Scotland (A+DS)

Date Completed July 2010


...A+DS and Highland Council planners had concluded that the lack of a spatial plan for the city was making it very difficult to ensure that the development of what was then one of Europe’s fastest growing cities was producing the right benefits for the whole city.  

Although a City Vision for Inverness had been prepared for Inverness’ bid for city status in 2003, this was primarily a marketing document, contained no spatial planning components and had no ability to inform future development. The planning department recognised that they needed additional input to make the new Local Development Plan for Inverness the kind of visionary document to which they aspired and to link the themes of the Highland Council Single Outcome Agreement in Inverness to the principles of spatial planning and design for the city.

A staged city visioning exercise brought together a City Vision Team and various different interest and user groups to consider a place based approach to 
policy formulation.    

The process led to the development of a clear diagram describing the spatial structure of the city, and the proposal to draft more detailed spatial frameworks for a number of priority areas. 

Full item here

Planning - Current Scottish Government Work

Some good stuff here.

Click on the link below to find a table containing ...details of current Planning and Architecture Division, and wider Scottish Government work of relevance to planning. It is used by PAD territorial planners to inform planning authorities of current work and provide key contacts.

The page at the link above is well worth a look now and in the future if you are interested in how your local area is likely to develop.

A planning committee ordered to 'stand down' in Cambridge

The first time I have come across something like this.

The BBC reports 12 October 2012 Last updated at 13:31:

All 14 members of a Cambridgeshire council's planning committee have been ordered to stand down in a row over supermarket planning applications.

Full story here

NPF3 Events - why not mark it in the diary now!

Update – National Planning Framework 3 and Scottish Planning Policy Consultation Events in November 2012

'...a series of stakeholder and public consultation events around the country during November. At each location there will be:

  • Stakeholder events, aimed at local authorities, public and private organisations. This will include a presentation and discussion session. Invitations are being issued directly to key stakeholders, but there may also be some space available for others to come along. Participants must register their interest in attending with by October 26, 2012.
  • An open public ‘drop in’ event, that anyone can attend, whether an individual, group, public or private organisation. This will be informal and participative, with officials from the NPF3 and SPP teams attending to discuss views and answer questions on a one to one basis. There is no need to pre-register for these events.

    13 November 2012
    Inverness – Eden Court Theatre
    12pm - 2pm Stakeholder Event (pre-registration required)
    3pm - 7pm Public Event (drop in at any time)

    For more details and a list of the other events in Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh, Dumfries and Glasgow click on link here

Problems with THC e-Planning but consultation deadlines extended

On THC web site - link here

...The Highland Council is advising anyone accessing its e-Planning service that they are working to fix problems with the system and the time to respond to current consultations  will be extended to take into account the difficulties experienced by users.

A Council spokesperson said: “We are aware that people are currently experiencing difficulty accessing planning application documents on line through our ePlanning system. We are currently seeking to resolve the matter and hope to allow public access to the documents as quickly as practicable.  

"Public access to documents has been affected since Tuesday afternoon and we would wish to apologise for the lack of public access to our system over this period.  Unfortunately the source of the problem is outwith the Council’s control, and the system supplier is now seeking  to resolve the problem as a matter of urgency. 

"Consultation deadlines will be extended, where relevant to reflect the time period the system was down to ensure that people have an opportunity to view documents before making comments on planning applications."

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Very good reasons to keep up with what is going with the ' Third National Plan' and other reforms to planning policy

In the words of an RTPI representative*:

...Stephen Tucker, Chair of RTPI Scotland’s planning policy sub committee said,  

“Scottish Government deserves some credit for establishing a National Planning Framework for Scotland in the first place.  There are also signs that they have sought to incrementally improve the document with each edition. At the RTPI we hope that NPF3 will continue this process and perhaps for the first time, provide a long term physical vision for the country. If it does then we truly have a Plan Led system where the national plan provides the context for all development plans further down the tiers..” (APTSec highlight)

(*from the opening page of the Aug 2012 issue of 'Scottish Planner - The Journal of  RTPI Scotland' here)

So this plan, this 'Third National Planning Framework for Scotland' will be... 


...especially in the light of the all the planned reforms to the planning system in Scotland and the determination of the Local government and Planning Minister, Derek Mackay, to make these reforms a working reality.

What to do now

Why not do a little reading to familiarise yourself with what is about to take place - time has a habit of flying by.

Participation Statement , published on line, sets out the publication timetable and forthcoming consultation opportunities.  NPF3 is due to be published by 25 June 2014, according to the document.

The Scottish Government has launched a call for Candidate National Developments - which is open until 14 December - to be considered for inclusion in the final NPF.  The selected developments must make a significant contribution to Scotland's sustainable economic growth and be of national, rather than regional, significance. They must also make a significant contribution to one or more specified criteria  including emissions reduction; renewable energy targets; skills development; strengthening Scotland's international links, and improving the country's digital, transport, utilities or green infrastructure networks.

Don't forget that anything that gets designated as a 'National Development' in the Third NPF will effectively be a 'shoe in' to  a Local Development Plan because the 'Need for such' will have been established through the National Plan.

RSPB says NPF3 'Must deliver for Scotland's Environment'

In an item from their web site dating back to 18 September 2012.


RSPB Scotland has welcomed the Scottish Government’s continued commitment to a robust Scottish planning system and to the National Planning Framework for Scotland. 
In a Ministerial announcement today Planning Minister, Derek Mackay, confirmed that work was commencing on the Third National Planning Framework for Scotland (NPF3). 
NPF3 will set out a spatial framework for the development of Scotland over the next 20-30 years.  However the wildlife conservation charity has warned that if not managed properly, with too much emphasis on short-term economic growth without considering the full impact on the environment, it could be damaging to the sustainable development of Scotland.
The current National Planning Framework, NPF2, encountered difficulties by identifying a new coal fired power station at Hunterston in Ayrshire as a “National Development”.  This became the most unpopular planning application in Scottish Planning History, with over 22,000 objections submitted before the developers eventually abandoned the project.
Aed├ín Smith, Head of Planning and Development for RSPB Scotland said:  “The National Planning Framework offers a great opportunity for Government to set out its vision for how Scotland can become more successful.  However, this must not involve growth at all costs.  If we want all of Scotland to benefit in the long term, it is critical that the new national planning framework also provides for the protection and enhancement of Scotland’s natural environment.”
“There is a particular need to improve the process by which national developments are identified.  The inclusion of the proposed Hunterston Coal Fired Power Station in NPF2 damaged the reputation of the planning process and this needs to be rectified in the development of NPF3.  Hunterston must be removed as a National Development and communities and the Scottish Parliament must be given a greater say over the final form of the planning framework to prevent it just becoming a developer’s wish list.”

RSPB site here

He is being called the 'Quiet reformer'

"I'm convinced this will genuinely incentivise planning authorities to perform in the way we want them to..."

I came across this rather worrying article (dated last Friday)  regarding the new SNP Minister for L Gov and Planning, Derek Mackay and his plans for the future of the planning system in Scotland.  It seems that we really can expect very big changes to planning from this new SNP Government Minister.  I know that I have already mentioned a lot about all the proposed planning reforms but seeing everything laid out here in this article certainly gave me a far stronger sense of foreboding than I had before and increased my concerns that any talk of community empowerment from the Government will remain just that, talk, for evermore.   

The article begins:

The extent of the changes to Scotland's planning system may be as significant as those in England, but the country's planning minister is trying to avoid provocation in his dealings with the sector, reports John Geoghegan.

One thing that particularly stands out from the article is when the author writes:

...The most eye-catching initiative among these is a plan to link improved planning performance by local authorities with a rise in the fees they can charge for processing applications. The government is proposing to allow councils to charge up to £100,000, up from a current cap of £15,950. But if an authority fails to raise its game, it will be forced to return to the current fee level and repay any charges made above that level. The performance of authorities will be judged on the basis of the government's new Planning Performance Framework (PPF), which provides a checklist for councils to measure their performance against. Speed of decisions is a central factor but it also includes other issues such as quality of development, customer service and level of resources.
Mackay says developers have told him that they are willing to pay more if he can create an improved system based on "certainty, fairness and swift assessment". Critics, however, say penalising already hard-hit local authorities will not improve performance. Mackay replies that the sanction would only be a last resort and would follow a probe into why a particular authority was performing poorly.
"I'm convinced this will genuinely incentivise planning authorities to perform in the way we want them to. I don't think it will ever come to using the sanction, but if I need to use it, I will."

The article continues further on:

Despite Mackay's eagerness to shake-up the system and improve performance, don't expect any Westminster-style pronouncements of planners as "enemies of enterprise". Mackay says he enjoys "a positive relationship with planners", adding: "You can only get the buy-in of the profession if you work with them. I don't see bashing folk over the head for the sake of it as a helpful way to deliver change."
Mackay claims that this "constructive and positive" approach has helped Scotland to get ahead of the curve compared with the rest of the UK on planning reform(APTSec underline"We are delivering a quiet revolution in planning, but we are doing it methodically and with stakeholders," he says. "We are focused on delivering growth, but protecting our heritage too. That's part of our economic strategy.

Further extracts from article:

Derek Mackay isn't messing about. Scotland's minister for local government and planning may only have started the job last December, but he is already driving wholescale reform of the planning system. And the reform process, which began before Mackay's arrival in the post, is as far-reaching as anything currently taking place in England.

In March, he announced a package of measures designed to streamline and improve the planning system, in a document titled Planning Reform - Next Steps. Then last month, Mackay told the Scottish Parliament that the government intended to carry out a further shake-up by updating two national planning strategies.
First, he announced a review of Scottish Planning Policy (SPP), which guides how planning authorities should deal with applications and development plans, and is the equivalent of England's National Planning Policy Framework. Second, he laid out a programme for drawing up the third National Planning Framework (NPF3), Scotland's top-level spatial document that sets out strategic priorities, including major developments, for the next 20 to 30 years.
The full article can be found here

Town Centre Retail Projects Stalled

According to today's e Planning newsletter:


'More than two thirds of town centre and edge of centre retail developments in Scotland are currently stalled, according to a report published today.'

'The report from consultancy GVA says that 68 per cent of projects have stalled, with local authorities blaming a variety of factors including lack of development finance, lack of developer interest and weak occupier demand.

The report also asked local authorities in Scotland how they were responding to the lack of retail development and found that 76 per cent intended to prepare town centre strategies in the next 12 months and that 56 per cent intended to allow greater flexibility of use types within their town centres.'

A copy of the report will be available here shortly.

Full item here

Politicians and Us

Thanks to a contact who has passed on the following comment she heard from a friend:

 "...the huge gulf between political idealism and real life  means that we need a translator to understand each other".