Friday, 26 October 2012

No web words from Highland as yet re NPF3

As far as I can see there are no 'web words' from Highland as yet re NPF3 but what about other local authorities?  Well here is a little something from East Lothian:

What does this mean for East Lothian?
The National Planning Framework sits at the top of the hierarchy of Scottish development plans.  Once published in June 2014, NPF3 will set out the Scottish Government's strategic development priorities over the next 20-30 years.  It can designate ‘national developments’, which are considered by Government to be essential to Scotland's strategic spatial development. 
Major strategic transport, water and drainage and waste management infrastructure projects may fall within this 'national' category of development.  For example, the existing National Planning Framework (NPF2) identifies Cockenzie Power Station as a 'national development' site for new non-nuclear baseload power generation.  East Lothian is also included within the Central Scotland Green Network 'national development' in NPF2.  Other examples of 'national developments' in NPF2 include the Replacement Forth Crossing and a high-speed rail link to London.
The new NPF3 will therefore be an important part of the Scottish planning system.  It could have significant implications for the way East Lothian develops over the next 30 years, for East Lothian's forthcoming Local Development Plan, and on how planning decisions are made. 

What can we expect from Highland I wonder?  Remember the Director of Planning's recent response to me?

...We are currently formulating a list of projects that are proposed to be submitted for consideration as National developments.  As part of this work we are in discussion with neighbouring authorities about making joint submissions on certain issues to help strengthen the case for their inclusion in NPF3.  The list of projects will be considered by the Planning, Environment and Development Committee on 14th November 2012... 

"A vision for the New Planning Framework for Scotland"

Extracts from an item in 'Planning' 

RTPI Scotland is engaging with the Scottish government on the participation statement that will set out how it ensured that all relevant parties were involved in preparing the forthcoming National Planning Framework 3 (NPF3)...

RTPI Scotland has also outlined how the integrated spatial plan should be preceded by a rather more rounded and transparent evidence base. This would include a review of the existing NPF2, looking at both progress made against its objectives and the impacts of external factors on it, and publishing a "State of Scotland" report setting out the evidence base across issues that influence or are influenced by planning...

RTPI Scotland has also said that the NPF3 needs to bring together and reconcile the goals of various other strategies and objectives published by the Scottish government and its agencies. These include the marine plan, land use strategy, transport plans, and strategies on low carbon, energy, broadband, enterprise areas, regeneration, national parks, health inequalities, housing and employment...

RTPI Scotland is also open to the idea of the Scottish government holding an "infrastructure charrette" to gather the thoughts of key players. This could help to raise the NPF's profile, stimulate genuine debate on the issues and encourage joined-up thinking on approaches to be taken through the NPF3...

Full item here

"Ten ways to improve participation in the next NPF"

"This does not mean development at any cost..."

I have just listened to the Ministerial Statement by Derek Mackay on BBC 'Democracy Live'.

(Local Government and Planning Minister Derek Mackay gave a ministerial statement on the National Planning Framework 3 on 18 September 2012.)

Link here

I made a note of some of what the Minister stated re the review of 'Scottish Planning Policy'

I tried to take down what the Minister said as accurately as possible:

"Today I am announcing a review of Scottish Planning Policy to ensure that it remains fit for purpose  and meets the challenges presented by the economic circumstances that we now face.  The SPP makes clear that Sustainable Economic Growth **is a material consideration and indicates that planning should pro-actively support growth enhancing activities.  This does not mean development at any cost.  Protecting community and environmental benefits  will continue to lie at the heart of our policies.  Indeed the Government Economic Strategy is clear that the quality of Scotland's built and natural environment is vital to the success of the economy. 

...a revised SPP by the end of 2013

....(SPP) review...alongside the early stages of the review of the NPF.  This means  that interested parties will be able to see the connections between the two. 

The Q and A session that followed was interesting, with questions, amongst others, relating to the 'cumulative effects of on shore windfarms', 'specific city strategies' and 'Hunterston coal fired power station' - see link here for background Planning Democracy in Action: Hunterston Plans Shelved

** I link to this page because I was having difficulty finding a clear definition of SEG and I know that the use of this term is not without controversy.

I have to say I remain to be convinced by the Minister's statement that 'Protecting community and environmental benefits  will continue to lie at the heart of our policies.'

I am fearful that ultimately changes to the  SPP followed by the publication of a Third NPF will not produce positive outcomes in terms of the environment or indeed, in terms of jobs and homes for those that really need them.  

Feel free to calm my fears.

Flood Mitigation

East Inverness Flood Meeting: See last night's presentation at Culloden Academy by Neil Gillies, Director of TEC Services here.

The presentation at the link above also includes a section from the Director of Planning, Dr Black, on improved planning guidance

Plus PR release 
Council estimates £6.9m costs for Inverness East flood alleviation programme (26/10/12)

South Planning Applications Committee Meeting

South Planning Applications Committee:  The agenda and supporting papers are now available for the meeting taking place on Tuesday 30 October at Council HQ, starting at 10.30 am. The meeting will be webcast.

Thursday, 25 October 2012

NPF Team provides answers to APT questions

Here are few Q and A's re the consultation on NPF3

(I received the answers promptly from the NPF Team on 11/10/12 so sorry for the delay in posting them onto the blog)

Q - How would ‘the person in the street’ know of the latest progress towards the preparation of a Third National Planning Framework for Scotland?  
Team - We are at an early stage and so the process of dissemination is gathering pace at the moment. We are working with local authorities in the first instance to get word out about NPF3. This includes information (a resource pack) being sent to planning authorities to use in their discussions with key stakeholders, as well as for community council liaison officers to send out to all community councils.  This information will be available online to download and an e-alert will highlight it.  
We are also keen to use existing networks and if you feel that members of Action for Planning Transparency would be interested in our first round of events, then we would be happy to forward you details.  This will be available later this week.

Update: I have put my name forward to attend the 12-2 session at Eden Court on the 14 November and have been publicising this local event via email and the blog.

Q - When will the details be available for the Inverness seminar, which is planned for 13th November 2012 (according to the participation statement)?

We are sending this information out this week.  The website will also be updated and an e-alert distributed. Information on the events is also provided in the resource packs.  In the meantime, it may be useful for you to know that this will take place in the Eden Court Theatre, with a ‘drop in’ session running from 3pm-7pm.

Q - How is information being distributed with respect to the holding of the seminars; are all community councils and other identified groups being sent details? I note the reference to an ‘awareness-raising leaflet’; is this available yet?

This is currently being printed.  We are sending this out this week.

Q - Will the ‘awareness-raising’ leaflet contain details of the outcomes of the various stakeholder meetings / briefings? For example details of the local authority planning committee convenors' meeting 4/5 October 2012 or the ‘Heads of Planning’ meeting to take place in November 2012;

Where a note is prepared, we will post a summary online.  Some events will be more suited to this than others and there will be different types of outputs.  We will seek to be as transparent as possible.  

Q - Is the participation statement itself being continually updated?  If this is the case how would interested parties know that there had been updates?

Yes, and we will publish it online at key stages following updates. We will alert people to this using our e-alerts.

Q - Is it possible to sign up to get specific information on NPF3? Or will updated information be provided through other e newsletters such as ‘Planning and Building’ or ‘Consultations’?

We will be using our e-alerts.  We are also planning to send through details of those who contact the NPF directly to ensure they are included on our mailing list.

Q - How are the meetings with stakeholders – re the use of innovative public engagement methods – coming along?

We are continuing to progress this.  Our approach to the consultation has been, and will continue to be informed by discussions with people about the methods we should use.  We would welcome your views on the Participation Statement and techniques we are using.  

Q - How soon could we start to see the sorts of developments being put forward for consideration as ‘National Development’?  I note the following under ‘Jan 13’ …Following the completion of the call for national developments, in order to provide communities with early access to information, links to the proposal form submitted will be placed on the NPF page of the Scottish Government’s website.   Where the proposal is location specific, we will work with the relevant planning authority to ensure that communities potentially impacted by the development are made aware of the proposal.  Is this the earliest time that details will be available?

We are trying to ensure that information about proposed national developments is made available as early as possible in the process.   The final date for submission of proposals for national developments is mid - December. We will seek to publish submitted information online, and will do this as quickly as possible, but we will need to go through an appropriate process to do this (e.g. confirming agreement to publish with proposers), and so time will be required after the close of the call for national developments to achieve this.

Q - Is it possible for individuals or groups to register an interest in providing evidence to the relevant Parliamentary Committee as NPF3 progresses to the Committee Stage?  
It will be for Parliament to decide how it wants to undertake the scrutiny of the NPF.  However, we will pass this idea on.

Note: I asked this last question because when APT asked if we could give evidence to the Local Government and Communities Committee as part of the scrutiny on NPF2 it was too far down the line as all those required to give evidence had already been called.

Has your community council / organisation received any information?  Please feel free to post a comment and share your experience / views with readers.

Review of Scottish Planning Policy; Convenors' briefing

Thanks to Helen Wood (Principal Planner SG) for forwarding these details:

The briefing note

Scottish Planning Policy SPP:

·         Is a statement of Scottish Government policy on land use planning

·         Informs : 
-          the content of development plans
-          decisions on planning applications, and
-          how proposals are developed, from concept to implementation 

·         Contains national planning policy on :

-          Coal mining
-          Coastal planning
-          Communications infrastructure
-          Drainage
-          Economic development
-          Fish farming
-          Flooding
-          Green belts
-          Historic environment
-          Housing
-          Natural heritage
-          Onshore oil & gas operations
-          Open space
-          Physical activity
-          Renewable energy
-          Retailing
-          Rural development
-          Town centres
-          Transport 
Waste management

·         A review of the SPP was announced to Parliament on 18 September 2012

Purpose of the Review

·         To bring it up-to-date : most of the policy was written before the economic down turn

·         To focus the policy on sustainable economic growth : to ensure the policy gives appropriate weight to the viability and delivery of development

·         To emphasise place making : delivering good quality, successful and sustainable places requires maintaining and improving the built and natural environment of Scotland


·         The Scottish Government is committed to encouraging interest and involvement in the preparation of the revised SPP
·         A Participation Statement outlines how and when interested parties can get involved
·         A Priorities for Change proforma asks stakeholder what policy works, what doesn’t and what the solutions may be
·         A Strategic Environmental Assessment Scoping Report sets out the proposed approach to the SEA of the SPP and NPF – and is available for comment

·         Autumn / Winter 2012/13                  Pre-draft engagement & drafting
11th Jan.2012                                    Priorities for Change – Proformas to be returned
·         Spring 2013                                       Publish Draft SPP & stakeholder engagement
·         Summer 2013                                   Analyse responses & re-drafting
·         End 2013                                           Publish finalised SPP

Further Information

Web site       
Telephone             Carrie Thomson        0131 244 7529
                              Helen Wood              0131 244 7534

Why am I so 'worked up' over NPF?

Just in case you are wondering why I am getting 'worked up' re getting involved in the consultations for  the Third National Planning Framework, here are some important points extracted from the Scottish Government web pages  - at the link here

(Developments in the A96 Corridor were put forward by Highland Council and included in NPF2 as 'spatial perspectives'.  I believe, for some very complex reasons which I will not go into at this time,  that this inclusion had a profound effect on local democracy)

What is NPF3?
The National Planning Framework (NPF) sits at the top of the hierarchy of Scottish development plans.  Once published in June 2014, NPF3 will set out the Scottish Government's strategic development priorities over the next 20-30 years.  It can designate ‘national developments’.

What does being a national development mean?
The NPF is used to identify certain projects as “national developments”.  National developments are essential to Scotland's strategic spatial development. Major strategic transport, water and drainage and waste management infrastructure projects may fall within this category of development. 
Many of these will already have been the subject of consultation and debate as part of the development of other strategies and programmes.  Identification in the NPF should be the mechanism for establishing the need for such developments.  The purpose of the designation is to facilitate the developments through the consenting process.
What are the implications for my local authority’s decision making?
On a strategic level, development plans will be required to accord with NPF3.

Where a planning application is required for a national development, there are some additional steps in the planning process.  These are:
  • there must be pre-application consultation, including with the local community;
  • the local authority must hold a pre-determination hearing; and
  • the authority’s decision on the application must be made by the full council
When and how can I get involved?
See details at link here

Director of Planning replies to Highland NPF3 National Development question

You will recall that I wrote the following to The Highland Council's Director of Planning (email sent 10/10/12):

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 Development Proposal Forms’ as part of the early stage of the NPF3 Consultation process.

His reply has just arrived:

Dear (APTSec)

We are currently formulating a list of projects that are proposed to be submitted for consideration as National developments.  As part of this work we are in discussion with neighbouring authorities about making joint submissions on certain issues to help strengthen the case for their inclusion in NPF3.  The list of projects will be considered by the Planning, Environment and Development Committee on 14th November 2012 and, as such, will be available to view on the Council’s committee webpages a few days in advance of the Committee date.

Yours sincerely,

Stuart Black

So, keep a look out on the Council's web site; if you click on the words Planning, Environment and Development Committee - first up on the list under 'Strategic Committees' - at this link here the Wednesday 14 November 2012 meeting agenda should be up on the web by 12 noon on Friday 9th November.

Don't forget

National Planning Framework 3 and Scottish Planning Policy Consultation Events in November 2012
November 13th 2012

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

  • 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  

    Link here

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

More on politics and planning

Carrying on with the subject of 'politics and planning'.

The business law firm dwf has the following (08/10/12) on one of its web pages:

...A bit like buses, ministerial statements come along in pairs!  On 18 September the Scottish Planning Minister gave a parliamentary update on planning reform.
The system in Scotland has been through a significant change, a process that started under the Labour/Liberal Democrat coalition, then continued under the SNP minority and now SNP majority governments.  However throughout that process the various Scottish Governments have all made clear that they see the planning system (and planners) as a useful tool to implement their primary policy objective of sustainable economic growth.  Their perspective seems to be different from that south of the border.  
(Full item here)

And on a 'Ryden' (Commercial Property Consultants) web page, in an 'Ask an Expert -Planning' item, one of their consultants answers a number of questions, including:

What is the biggest issue in planning?
Without a doubt it’s planning reform...

Why does planning need a culture change?
The Government wants a more efficient and effective planning system, one which can deliver development and associated jobs. There is a desire for planning to be identified as an enabler and not an obstacle to overcome.
Culture change relates primarily to public sector performance given the nature of the reforms proposed. However, I believe that it is as much about the private sector embracing these reforms and adopting a positive approach. 

What do you think of the reforms so far?
I think it’s a mixed bag with some successes but it needs to transcend all local authorities so the improvement in service is consistent across the country. That said, it probably isn’t the best time to judge given the state of the markets we operate in and the impact on the development process generally.

How do you think this change can be achieved?
What do your clients expect from the new system?
How likely is it that the reforms will be successful?

For the full item and the answers to the other three questions please click on the 'Ask an Expert' link above.

"Strong political leadership has led to a simpler, more efficient planning system in Scotland"

...Strong political leadership has led to a simpler, more efficient planning system in Scotland, its outgoing Chief Planner has contended.  Addressing an agendaNi seminar, Jim Mackinnon remarked that planning had “more opportunities for public involvement, guaranteed by statute, than any other area of public policy.”

(Quote taken from  The site states, 'This entry was posted on Friday, August 24th, 2012 at 8:28 am and is filed under EconomyEnvironmentPlanning.')

Well, there may be "more opportunities for public involvement, guaranteed by statute, than any other area of public policy" but effectiveness of  these opportunities  is what counts and if I felt at the system was working well then I would not be running this blog.

Planning and land value creation

An interesting leaflet can be found here

It begins: 

The value of land depends on the use that can be made of it...