Friday, 9 November 2012

How can THC want 'Expanded' A96 Corridor in NPF3 when there's no real sign of a contributions protocol

Compare and contrast the statements - which I have put into a table below and taken from the new DPS (Development Plan Scheme) - regarding two developer contributions protocols. 

The Planning Authority should have had the 'A96 Corridor Developer Contributions' guidance in place by now, why is it still dragging its heals on this? 

A special developer contributions protocol was an integral part of the 'A96 Corridor Growth Development Framework' when it was 'approved' and this special contributions protocol was to be in place at the adoption of the HwLDP.  

The following text was sent by me, as part of an email to councillors, in September 2012, to tie in with the consideration of the 'New town' Planning Application:

....The ‘A96 Growth Corridor Development Framework’ was placed before the PEDC on Wednesday 26 September 2007. BUT, what is particularly important is that which was stated within the Committee Report (dated 19 September 2007) with respect to developer contributions (I have underlined statements that I consider pertinent):

5.  Developer Contribution Protocols

5.1 Section 8 of the Framework in Appendix 2 is fundamental to the success of development in the A96 Corridor.  It represents a strategic response to the need for key infrastructure and provides a blueprint for ensuring that investment happens in the right places at the right times.  The use of the protocols will be a prerequisite for development proposals which come forward.  The majority of development interests have broadly welcomed the approach taken by the Council, although there are a number of outstanding issues over the overall costs and the means of delivery.  These outstanding issues will be the basis of ongoing negotiation with the different development interests as they come forward and as the levels of public funding contributions become clearer.

5.2 Around £326m of strategic infrastructure investment (excluding water and sewerage) is required to facilitate development across the Corridor.  About 70% of this will be funded from the development process.  This will require public subsidy to meet regional investment requirements of £56m.   The remaining 30% would require public funding in areas of transport, schooling and landscape/park provision.  This means that the overall public/private split would require £151m (46%) of public investment and £175m (54%) of private contribution. This will be provided through the levels of contributions set out in Section 8 of the document
In line with the approach taken elsewhere in Inverness and throughout the country, developer contributions of between £7,000 and £11,000 per house have been established depending on the requirements for infrastructure within each development zone.  Other land uses will also be expected to contribute, again in line with the content of the protocols. Section 9 of the Framework identifies as a key action that there should be regular quarterly updates of the development funding protocol and delivery costings should be maintained.

5.3 The delivery of infrastructure through the protocols will be complex, but what has been established to date represents the first step in a welcome change to the way that the private and public sectors co-operate in the delivery of facilities or physical works which need to be provided to make better places.  In that context, Committee approval is sought for the developer contributions protocols.   

Well the HwLDP has been adopted and still not sign of this special protocol.

I have become tired and fed up of pointing out to the planning authority that this should be in place and the planning authority seems quite empowered to ignore my protestations.

The Planning Authority is continuing to promote the A96 Corridor and associated developments as 'National' through a third  National Planning Framework (The A96 Corridor only managed to be placed as a 'Spatial Perspective'  in the current NPF2).   Evidence of  private and public sector co-operation should be far more evident before inclusion and expansion of the A96 Corridor is considered through any future National Planning Framework.

Title of Supplementary Guidance
Purpose and Progress
Target Date

Developer Contributions
Provides guidance on how, when and why we negotiate contributions from development. This will bring together all of our existing guidance on developer contributions and our affordable housing supplementary guidance. We carried out consultation on this document Summer 2012.
A revised document will be reported to the PED Committee in January 2013.

A96 Corridor Developer
Sets out our procedure for securing contributions from developers towards long-term infrastructure within the A96 Corridor.
A draft document will be reported to the PED
Committee in 2013. Public
consultation will follow.

Inner Moray Firth Local Development Plan and associated guidance - progress to date

...Inner Moray Firth LDP – Following the publication of the MIR in March 2012, an extensive consultation period was undertaken from April to July which included almost 40 public events across the Inner Moray Firth area.  The Development Plans team is currently analysing the 900 individual responses which were received.'  

...The Proposed Plan will be published in March 2013.  The will be subject to a further consultation period before the finalised plan is 
presented for examination. 

...The Torvean, Ness-side and Charleston Development Brief will be prepared and issued for public consultation in early 2013.     

Extracts taken from this PEDC Committee Report, 'DEVELOPMENT PLAN SCHEME' (...Members are asked to approve the contents of the Scheme and agree for its submission to the Plain English Campaign).

The ' presents an updated version of the Development Plan Scheme (DPS) (attached as Appendix 1) which sets out  the Council’s programme for preparing and reviewing its Local Development Plans.  The DPS helps to provide certainty to the community and other stakeholders as to when each stage of the development planning process is being reached.  The updated version outlines the progress made so far, current status and next stages in the main projects since the DPS 2011 was approved in Nov 2011.'  

At last some 'Customer Feedback' - Planning Performance Framework

Click here for the Full details

"For the first time the planning system has a balanced scorecard approach to performance which will enable each local planning authority to demonstrate its achievements, successes, individuality  and personality. Speed of decision making still features as an important factor but it will be  set within a wider supporting context of quality, workloads, resources, organisation and outcomes achieved on the ground.  The Improvement plan for 2012/13 is an important element of the Framework and efforts are now being made to ensure the Service delivers on the actions contained within it."

"All Planning Authorities  in Scotland were asked to submit a Planning Performance Framework based on 2011/12 and including an Improvement Plan for the current year (2012/13).  This was submitted at the end of October 2012, although Committee are now being asked to agree the Improvement Plan set out within the document.  Any changes requested by Committee can be provided to Scottish Government as an update."

And what of the 'customer'?  Tucked away in the 'Supporting Evidence' section at end we have:

Customer Feedback

'Customer feedback has been received over the course of the last year across the range of
planning services, using a survey monkey link at the bottom of e-mails. There were 101
comments made through the online link over the course of the last year. More than 75% of
respondents rated the service they received from us as Good or Excellent...

16 % of respondents rated the service they received as Poor or Unacceptable. The main
reasons behind this were delays/length of planning process and a lack of consistency during
the planning process but other reasons given included a lack of communication/explanation,
that planners favour developers over the public, unhelpful staff, difficulties contacting the
planning department and issues with ePlanning/the Council website. The survey has
identified a number of potential improvements that can be addressed over the course of this


'A96 Corridor should be extended to reach from Inverness to Elgin'

At last, the 'list' of Highland's Proposed 'National Developments'.  I have not read this through in any detail or indeed had time to consider the implications.
I have only taken extracts from the short committee report and as always would recommend that it is read in full.

According to the Committee report - as linked to in the agenda item below:

The National Planning  Framework (NPF) sets the context for development 
planning in Scotland and provides a framework for the spatial development of 
Scotland as a whole.  It can have implications for the way Highland develops 
over the next 30 years, including  future Local Development Plans and how 
planning decisions are made.

Extract from Committee report

2.2. is considered major infrastructure and 
development projects relevant to Highland listed below should be promoted to 

the Scottish Government as national developments.  Appendix 1 provides 
further explanation of each of the project and provides the supporting 
justification for their promotion as national developments. 

Strategic Road Improvements: 

A96 Inverness – Aberdeen dualling; 

A9 Inverness – Perth dualling/Inverness to Thurso improvements;  
A82 Inverness – Glasgow improvements; 

Strategic Port and Harbour Enhancements: 

Inner Moray Firth Ports – Highland Deephaven, Invergordon, 
Inverness, Nigg and Whiteness; 

North West Coast – Kishorn and Arnish; 
Pentland Firth and Orkney Waters – Scrabster, Wick and Lyness and 
Hatston (Kirkwall) in Orkney; 

Strategic Airport Enhancements: 

Inverness Airport; 
Skye Airport;  
Wick/John O’Groats Airport; 

A96 Corridor – comprising housing and  mixed use developments, 
including a new rail station and public transport interchange at Dalcross, 
supported in the Highland-wide Local Development Plan and the Life 
Sciences Corridor between Inverness  and Elgin including the new UHI 
Beechwood campus; 

Superfast Broadband – providing infrastructure to deliver superfast 
broadband to communities throughout the Highland and Islands; and

Electricity Grid Reinforcements - upgrading and reinforcing the existing 
electricity transmission network to realise the diversification and growth 
potential in renewable energy generation.

Extract from Appendix 1

...In NPF3 it is considered the A96 corridor should be extended to reach from 
Inverness to Elgin with particular focus on support for the life sciences sector 
and be given elevated status as a national development.  Life science is a 
particular growth sector for the Scottish economy and Highland and Moray 
are developing a reputation for excellence and leadership in this sector. This 
corridor is seen as the engine for growth that will power the wider Highland 
and Moray economies and disperse  economic benefits to the rural 
hinterlands.  Several research and private sector enterprises are located 
along the corridor from Lifescan and the UHI Beechwood campus at 
Inverness, to Accunostics at Forres Enterprise Park and to the new Life 
Sciences Research Centre at Elgin.  There is a national drive to deliver 
healthcare via digital technology and this corridor cluster of expertise will gain a competitive advantage from co-location and expansion and offer significant opportunities for skills development, reducing unemployment and job creation. Two of the five national Life Sciences Enterprise Area sites lie within 
this corridor.  Growth in this corridor can power sustainable economic 

benefits for over a third of Scotland’s land mass whereas investment in the 
central belt tends to concentrate positive effects.

The relevant agenda item states

11. National Planning Framework 3 (NPF3): Call for National Developments
      Frèam Dealbhaidh Nàiseanta 3: Gairm airson Leasachaidhean Nàiseanta

There is circulated Report No. ped-66-12 (42kb pdf) dated 5 November 2012 by the Director of Planning and Development seeking approval for a list of infrastructure and development projects within Highland that are recommended to be nominated to the Scottish Government as national developments or key issues for inclusion in National Planning Framework 3.  The recommended projects will be considered by Scottish Ministers for inclusion in the next National Planning Framework.

The Committee is asked to agree:

i.  that the series of infrastructure and development projects outlined in the
   report be nominated to the Scottish Government as national
   developments/key issues for inclusion in the National Planning Framework 3; and
ii. to delegate authority to the Director of Planning and Development in
   consultation with the Chair and Vice Chair of PED to complete the national
   development proposals forms.

There are many more things of interest on this agenda see HERE

(*A meeting of the Planning, Environment and Development Committee will take place in the Council Chamber, Council Headquarters, Glenurquhart Road, Inverness onWednesday, 14 November 2012 at 10.30am.)

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Do wind farms really have the potential to affect tourism?

Also from the e 'Planning' bulletin

'Scotland's planning minister has told a conference that the government is 'not obsessed with wind farms', amid criticism that the country is building too many.'  More here

'VisitScotland' has raised concerns in the press about wind farms affecting Scottish tourism.  


...With many of these sited in the Highlands and islands, it is feared they could damage the country’s £11 billion-a-year tourism trade.
...Wind farm developers can cash in on £400million in subsidies paid in Britain every year – huge payments which have been cut by only 10 per cent by the Scottish Government in its drive to provide 100 per cent of electricity through renewable energy by 2020.
The press article concludes:

...A Scottish Government spokesman said: ‘VisitScotland’s own research backs up previous studies – the majority of tourists are not deterred by wind turbines. In fact, evidence shows that wind turbines can attract tourists.’

I would suggest that any research is now potentially out of date and/or not detailed enough and this is probably a good time to rigorously research the potential impacts upon Tourism.

Another thing we need is comparative data with respect to any subsidy paid to other energy sources.

From one Scottish Minister to an English Prime Minister

John Geoghegan writes from the e 'Planning' bulletin:


'Scotland's planning minister has described Prime Minister David Cameron's attacks on planners as 'unprofessional'.

Derek Mackay, who is leading wholesale reform of Scotland's planning system for the Scottish National Party administration, was speaking at the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) Scotland annual conference in Aberdeen yesterday afternoon.

In England, planning reforms have been accompanied by Prime Minister David Cameron vowing to fight the planning system’s "stifling bureaucracy", to "get the planners off our backs" and describing them as "enemies of enterprise".
Talking about his approach to carrying out planning reforms, Mackay said: "In terms of English planning reform, I am indeed Scotland’s answer to [communities secretary] Eric Pickles, but I take a slightly different approach.
"I think when you are delivering planning reforms, statements like 'let’s get planners off people's backs' - that's unprofessional.
"We as politicians set policies which professionals then apply and we are beholden to those professionals. That was my sense around taking a moderate approach to planning reform."
The Scottish National Party (SNP) reforms include a review of Scottish Planning Policy (SPP) and an update to the country-wide spatial plan, the National Planning Framework (NPF).
Mackay is also trying to speed up and improve Scotland’s planning system, including a proposal to link an increase in application fees to better performances by authorities.
More at link above

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

First phase of 2011 census ouputs due in just over a month

I registered for alerts with the GROS and this arrived today - funnily enough I had visited the site yesterday to see how things were progressing.

'Dear Census User

2011 Census Outputs - Update to Scotland's Census 2011 Outputs Prospectus

Please note that an updated version of the Scotland's Census 2011 Outputs Prospectus has been published.

Kind regards

Census Outputs

National Records of Scotland
Scotland's Census - Shaping our future

Cunntas-sluaigh na h-Alba - A'cumadh na tha romhainn '


Release 1A (17 December 2012) – Population estimates by five-year age bands and sex for Scotland, total population estimate for each council area. 

Release 1B (March 2013) – Population estimates by five-year age bands and sex for Scotland and each council area. Household estimates for Scotland and each council area. 

Release 1C (May 2013) - Population estimates by single year of age and sex for Scotland and each council area. 
Release 2 (from summer 2013) – Key and Quick statistics; Scotland level population estimates by single year of age and sex, Census Profiles; Population and Household estimates by postcode and Geography products.

Release 3 (from autumn 2013) – Local Characteristics.   

Release 4 (from winter 2013) – Detailed Characteristics.    

Places still available at NPF3 events

Just in on the 'e bulletin':

National Planning Framework 3 and Scottish Planning Policy Consultation Events in November 2012: Spaces are still available at the consultation events in Inverness, Aberdeen, Dundee and Dumfries, so we have extended the deadline for pre-registration to November 9, 2012. These events are aimed at local authorities, public and private organisations, but there is space available for others to come along. Participants must register their interest in attending with the

There is also an open public "drop-in" event that is open to all at these locations and in Edinburgh and Glasgow.  Anyone can attend and there is no need to pre-register.  These will be informal and participative, with officials from the NPF3 and SPP teams attending to discuss views and answer questions.  More information about the events is available on our events web page, via our e-alerts and on Twitter @NPF3Team.

Monday, 5 November 2012

The 'Inverness to Nairn Corridor'; what's happened so far?

Well it is nearly the end of 2012 and as I prepare to enter the soul destroying process of participating in yet another major National Plan consultation, I am taking stock of what has actually happened in the area the council has called the 'A96 Corridor' (expanded from the  area as originally defined through the ILP, I perceive, via non-stat Masterplanning) ; a 'Corridor' which was a major beneficiary of development due to its inclusion in NPF2  - inclusion of which in the NPF pre-empted the local plan process. 

As far as I can see (since 2006) there has been outline permission granted for over 10,000 homes and lots of business and educational space.  Major sites are:

Brownfield,  Whiteness, 714 acres and (1950 units plus other uses);

Greenfield, East Inverness, 195 Acres and 2,500 units - with other uses;

'Greenfield'North East of Tornagrain, 259 Hectares (640 acres) and 4,960 units with other uses;

'Greenfield', Inverness Airport Business Park, 500 acres - no housing, extensive landscaping;

'Greenfield',  Delnies west of Nairn, 638 ha of land (1576 acres), 300 units, plus Golfing stuff, Equestrian, Tourism, Heritage, community woodland (part of the site lies within the Inner Moray Firth Special Protection Area/Ramsar site.)

Reserved matters approved

GreenfieldInverness Campus at Beechwood, 100 acres - no residences planned at site as far as I can tell.  (originally shown as 'Green Wedge' on ILP* and extending to some 215 acres in*).

Overall that seems to be around 3000 acres of 'greenfield' and 714 acres of brownfield falling within a development line already with permission.

More development proposals in the pipeline:

100+ acres at the Beechwood Campus - which I believe requires the construction of a major link road before any application for development can be considered;

[*,*...Although a site is identified in the Inverness Local Plan at Ashton for a campus 
development, an option appraisal was undertaken and a preferred site identified 
at Beechwood Farm located to the east of the A9.  This site is currently part of the 
green wedge as shown within the adopted Inverness Local Plan but is identified 
as a campus site within the A96 Corridor Framework, which has been approved as supplementary planning guidance by the Council.  The site which covers some 
219 acres (88 hectares), is shown on the attached map to this committee report 
(appendix 1).

...Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) is currently investing up to £25m in the 215-acre former Beechwood Farm site to create Inverness Campus as a high quality location for business, research, learning and leisure in the Highland capital.]