Showing posts with label Planning; the broader views. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Planning; the broader views. Show all posts

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Would this be your 'City Vision'?

Thanks to this post in the 'Chris Brown' blog for drawing my attention to a letter in the Telegraph

The letter makes the following points;

'Cities are this country's economic engines and the centre of creativity. People move to cities to find jobs and earn more. Ninety per cent of us live in cities, so the form of our urban settlements must be sustainable. This means compact, polycentric cities.'

'There is no shortage of brownfield sites – England has 66,000 hectares which could be used for building – and while there is a need for more well-designed dwellings, there are 750,000 homes lying empty and 22 million homes which should be retrofitted. Some 330,000 dwellings have planning permission but have not been built.'

'The movement back to cities is to be encouraged. '

'A green belt helps to contain the city and protect the countryside.'

Do you share this 'vision'?

Monday, 12 December 2011

Good news from the second round of the Community Council elections (12/12/11)

Council web site reports - click here

16 of the 19 Community Councils in the Highlands that had gone into abeyance last month will be able to continue following a second round of elections.

When the deadline for nomination closed at 4 pm on Friday 9 December, 12 Community Councils received sufficient nominations to form a Community Council ie they attracted half or more than their maximum entitlement (7-13). They are:-

Caithness: Bower

Sutherland: Tongue,

Ross: Gairloch, Fearn.

Skye: Glendale, Broadford and Strath, Skeabost and District.

Inverness: Merkinch, Inverness South.

Nairn: East Nairnshire,

Lochaber: Nether Lochaber, Glencoe and Glen Etive.

There may be elections in Dunvegan, Lairg, Raasay and Sleat, where more nominations than the maximum membership were received. These would take place via a postal ballot early in the new year. Candidates have until 4 pm on Tuesday to withdraw their nomination, so the picture can change.

The three community councils which remain in abeyance are Caol, Inverness Central and Laggan (where they operate a community association instead and were never going to form a CC).


Monday, 5 December 2011

Reneging on affordable housing committments

'Planning' reports:

Leeds councillors have accused developers of using an interim housing policy the city council agreed earlier this year to renege on affordable housing commitments.

Leeds City Council's interim affordable housing policy, agreed in February, included a provision to reduce the percentage of affordable homes that developers must include in their schemes in an attempt to stimulate the local housing market.

But councillors say that six or seven developers, who before the policy was introduced used appeals to overturn refusals of their applications to build on greenfield sites, have since used the interim guidance to resubmit applications that include fewer affordable homes.

Phil Crabtree, the council's chief planning officer, said: "Councillors have become aware that some developers who have benefited from recent appeal decisions for developments with higher levels of affordable housing are now resubmitting applications with the lower targets agreed in February."

A report by the council's regeneration scrutiny board, discussed last week, said the new policy "has resulted in the majority of developers reneging on previous undertakings and providing reduced numbers of affordable homes".

The board recommended that the council's executive board should debate whether or not to reinstate the 2008 housing targets that were in place before the interim policy was adopted. A spokesman for the council said it was likely that this would be discussed early next year.

Mark Lane, a partner in the Leeds office of planning consultancy DPP, warned that the council could "stifle development" if affordable housing requirements were increased.

He said: "It's not developers being greedy. The council's own studies found that housebuilding is not viable in certain areas in the city with certain rates of affordable housing."

More here

Handover of Council houses in Nairn

The first new council houses to be built in Nairn for 16 years will soon be allocated to tenants.

8 2-bed bungalows for older people at Corsee, Nairn, have been completed and have been handed over to the Council by contractor UBC Group Ltd.

Tenants have been identified for the properties and hopefully will move in before Christmas.

The cost of the project is £770,000.

Councillor Margaret Davidson, Chairman of the Council's Housing and Social Work Committee, said: "After an absence of 16 years, it is great to back providing council houses in Nairn. The new homes at Corsee will provide eagerly-awaited accommodation for older people.

"The Nairn homes are part of a wider Council house building programme, currently featuring 202 houses throughout the Highlands. Our longer term target is to build 750 council houses by 2015."

THC web site here

Friday, 2 December 2011

West Midlands, 'Sex on a Stick' for Development Sites; good grief

Claims that the West Midlands is 'sex on a stick' for potential sites for a series of 'villages of the future' feature in today's newspaper round-up.

'Regeneration and Renewal'; more here

Pension funds could pay for Large Scale Schemes

The expert who advised the Labour government on its eco-towns policy has called for a new town development delivery vehicle which would use pension fund cash to buy land for proposed new large-scale developments.

so says headline in 'Planning'; more here

Friday, 25 November 2011

Timely Ministerial pledge

The P and J reports:

"Scottish Transport Minister Keith Brown has given an assurance over the future of the east coast rail line and sleeper services."


"ROADS in Scotland are the worst prepared in the UK to survive the looming winter weather. The AA says communities in Scotland average 20.1 potholes each – against a UK-wide rate of 14.9."

Well that is one way of making sure we all travel by train

More here and here

Interesting, 'Think Piece' from Atkins here on land use planning decisions and reducing the need for travel.

Interesting blog post on Environmental Transport Association site here

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Some readable wisdom from Chris Brown blog


Listening to Grant Shapps, the minister, unusually somewhat floundering on the Today programme this morning, I was struck by the difficulty politicians sometimes have in admitting that they cannot control the world.

It would be lovely if we built lots of nice and affordable homes quickly in the right places because a lot of people want them and because it would create jobs for people that don’t have them.

But it isn’t going to happen and Government can’t make it happen.

Chris Brown blog link here

Friday, 18 November 2011

Local blog Highlights Road Casualties

Very interesting post on 'A Gurn from Nurn', "10 years of Carnage on the Roads'.

Bothered by something on the map though will check with Northern Constabulary.

Wake up to rail consultation

From THC web page here

At today’s meeting of The Highland Council’s TEC Services Committee, Members had an early opportunity to discuss the Scottish Government consultation on rail services that was announced two days ago.

Although a full response to the 80 page consultation will be considered by the TECS Committee in January, the chairman, Councillor John Laing, welcomed the opportunity today to raise this important issue for the Highlands with members.

He said: “As a section of the consultation directly relates to the current Caledonian Sleeper service which operates to Inverness and Fort William I felt it was important that we give a clear message to Highland communities that we are on the case. Between now and the closing date we will have an in-depth look at all the current Highland rail services and take the time to prepare a very full and well thought out measured response which will aim to protect and enhance the rail services in the Highlands.”

The detailed response to the consultation will be presented to Members on the TECs Committee on 19 January and then forwarded to the Scottish Government before the closing date of the 20 February.


From Transport Scotland web page here

Rail 2014 - Public Consultation

Publication Date:
Publication Summary:
Rail users and stakeholders are being asked to play their part in shaping Scotland's rail services with passenger interests at the heart.

In 2014, both the current contract for rail passenger services (ScotRail) and the funding arrangements for Network Rail in Scotland are due to come to an end and new arrangements have to be in place. This consultation is a crucial part of our considerations.

There will be a number of rail station events throughout the consultation. Promotional postcards are being distributed at the station events throughout the consultation.

ISBN 978 1 908181 13 8 (Web publication only)

This document is also available in pdf format (1.7mb)


Ministerial Foreword
Executive Summary
1 - Rail in Scotland
2 - Transport policy and structural developments
3 - Procuring rail passenger services
4 - Achieving reliability, performance and service quality
5 - Scottish train services
6 - Scottish rail fares
7 - Scottish stations
8 - Cross-border services
9 - Rolling stock
10 - Passengers - comfort, security, information
11 - Caledonian Sleeper
12 - Environmental issues
The Consultation Process

Annex A - Glossary
Annex B - Useful documents and websites
Annex C - List of organisations being consulted
Annex D - Respondent Information Form and Questions

Further copies of this document are available, on request, in audio and large print formats and in community languages (Urdu; Bengali; Gaelic; Hindi; Punjabi; Cantonese; Arabic; Polish).

Responding to the consultation

The section entitled ‘The consultation process' provides details on how you can respond to the consultation. The Consultation Response Form includes a Respondent Information Form, which must be completed to ensure we handle your response appropriately. Responses and any queries can be sent to Closing date for responses is 20 February 2012.

"...assess and mitigate the link between new building and flooding..."

From THC web page here

An exhibition on the findings of the works carried out by The Highland Council and partners following the recent flooding incidents on the east side of Inverness will be on display in advance of a public meeting to be held on Thursday 24 November 2011 at Culloden Academy, Inverness.

The exhibition and displays will be open from 6:30pm and the public meeting starts at 7:30pm.

Representatives from the Council’s TEC Services, and Planning and Development Service; Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA); Northern Constabulary; Highlands and Islands Fire and Rescue Service; Forestry Commission (Scotland), Scottish Flood Forum, and Scottish Water will be in attendance at the meeting on the 24 November.

An update will be given on the work being carried out by the Council’s flood team and JBA consultants who have been appointed by the Highland Council to undertake a detailed study of the underlying causes of the flooding.

Neil Gillies, Director of TEC Services, will also give an update on the measures which are being considered to reduce the risk of future flooding.

Further information on planning matters, including progress with new Council advice on how better to assess and mitigate the link between new building and flooding, will be provided by Stuart Black, Director of Planning and Development.

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Stuart Black, Director of Planning and Development at Highland Council will deliver the first UHI public lecture

Thanks to the contacts who sent me details of this lecture:

"Current planning and development issues in the Highlands"

29th November
5.15pm - 7pm
UHI Executive Office, Inverness

Stuart Black, Director of Planning and Development at Highland Council will deliver the first UHI public lecture under the “Our Business” category and will focus on the various planning issues in the highlands.
Stuart will explore issues such as renewable energy including marine and tidal energy; the Highland-wide development plan including opportunities for new housing and economic development and growth in the Highlands; his thoughts for a future Inverness as well more specific topics including the role of the University of the Highlands and Islands in the future development of the area.

Stuart is a long term supporter of the University of the Highlands and Islands and the UHI Management School and has recently served on its external stakeholder group helping take forward and shape the plans for the school as it establishes itself as part of the Scotland's newest University.

To book a place at this FREE lecture or to enquire about video-conference links in your area, please contact our events team on tel: 01463 279344 or by email

Sunday, 13 November 2011

The rule of wealth

BBC reports;

Hundreds of people gathered outside the presidential palace in Rome to witness the end of Mr Berlusconi's 17-year domination of Italian politics.

The 75-year-old and his family have built a fortune estimated at $9bn (£5.6bn) by US business magazine Forbes.

His business acumen - with an empire spanning media, advertising, insurance, food and construction - was sufficient evidence for many Italians of his ability to run their country too.

But since he took power again in 2008 the economy has come under increasing strain, dogged by slow growth and a national debt of 1.9tn euros (£1.7tn; $2.6tn).

How could one person dominate for so long a country on its knees on the verge of dragging others down with it? Why do systems allow this? Why do we as voters allow this? The exposure of our banks to Italian debt is some 60 billion - or so I understand?

Is there a moral here?

Thursday, 10 November 2011

A triumph of local nimbyism?

Extract below from, 'Pileus'

As noted in previous posts on this site development rights in the UK are nationalised – if you own a piece of land you have no right to develop it as such – merely a right to request permission to do so from a local government planning authority which purports to represent ‘the community’. As a consequence,
all land use decisions are fundamentally politicised and this typically results in the triumph of local ‘nimbyism’. More here

Yes, land use decisions are fundamentally politicised but to what end here in Scotland? Not to the triumph of local nimbyism here surely - the stats do not support that as far as I can see - so to what end?

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Governance Matters

Would you support a comprehensive review of Scottish Governance?

Scottish Environment LINK*has produced a report, 'Governance Matters; The Environment and Governance in Scotland', (Report here), and the LINK is asking for views as in:

"Do you, or your organisation, support a comprehensive review of Scottish governance?" (see final page of report for more details on how to submit response or to ask further questions)

It would be interesting to know if anyone finds parallels with the experiences that we have with the Planning system.

[Scottish Environment LINK* is the forum for Scotland's voluntary environment organisations. Its over 30 member bodies represent a wide range of environmental interests with the common goal of contributing to a more environmentally sustainable society. More here]

Saturday, 5 November 2011

"Poetry Please"

Out of the mouths of babes...

Click here

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

"...strong interest in Inverness in moving upmarket to new luxury homes."

Courier reports:

The final home has been sold in Inverness's most expensive housing development and now its builder, Tulloch Homes, is set to begin work on another project of similar price levels.

More here

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Exploding head

I am very tired and entirely fed up with the whole subject of Planning. My head feels like it is about to explode.

Monday, 24 October 2011

Don't usually recommend this but...

'Wind farms in Scotland'

I wouldn't normally advocate the purchase of anything in particular on these pages however today's copy of the P and J contains a full page map inside which accompanies this front page article. The on line version of this map is found at Windfarms in Scotland (July 2011) which in turn is accessed from this page on the SNH web site.

This article is part of a much larger debate however and I have previously referred readers to the excellent book:

Sustainable Energy – without the hot air
David J.C. MacKay

To quote from the on-line 10 page synopsis:

"We have an addiction to fossil fuels, and it’s not sustainable. The developed world gets 80% of its energy from fossil fuels; Britain, 90%...How can we get off our fossil fuel addiction?...There’s no shortage of advice on how to “make a difference,” but the public is confused, uncertain whether these schemes are fixes or figleaves...We need a plan that adds up. The good news is that such plans can be made. The bad news is that implementing them will not be easy."

"We often hear that Britain’s renewables are “huge.” But it’s not sufficient to know that a source of energy is “huge.” We need to know how it compares with another “huge,” namely our huge consumption. To make such comparisons, we need numbers, not adjectives. Where numbers are used, their meaning is often obfuscated by enormousness. Numbers are chosen to impress, to score points in arguments, rather than to inform. In contrast, my aim here is to present honest, factual numbers in such a way that the numbers are comprehensible, comparable, and memorable. The numbers are made accessible by expressing them all in everyday personal units."

The synopsis also looks at five energy plans for Britain and the scary thing is that all these supply-side plans assume that demand has been substantially reduced by efficiency savings in heating and transport. Using '...honest, factual numbers.." Prof Mackay also does a bit of 'compare and contrast' e.g. 'Roof-mounted wind turbines -bad; roof-mounted solar water heaters - 'no brainer'.

I hope blog readers will find this synopsis thought provoking and maybe take a look at on-line book - 13.9 MB accessed at link here.

To quote Prof Mackay again:

This book isn’t intended to be a definitive store of super-accurate numbers. Rather, it’s intended to illustrate how to use approximate numbers as a part of constructive consensual conversations. This book doesn’t advocate any particular energy plan or technology; rather, it tells you how many bricks are in the lego box, and how big each brick is, so the reader can figure out for himself how to make a plan that adds up.

I think we should see the SNH July 2011 wind farm map in the context of the map provided by Professor Mackay on page 7 of the synopsis as Fig 9, Plan M

'Market share loss' for Town Centre shopping locations

'Planning' reports that:

A study carried out by property consultancy CBRE found that town centres attract 47.9 million people – or 79.7 per cent of the population – for "shopping purposes", an increase of 1.64 per cent since 1998, but a market share loss of 4.02 per cent.

Out-of-town trading locations currently attract 5.7 million people – or 9.6 per cent of the population – for shopping purposes, an increase of 61 per cent since 1998 and an overall market share increase of 53.37 per cent.

"Town centres have been boosted by shopping population growth but continue to suffer significant market share losses", the report said.

"Major gains and losses are however limited to a very small proportion of trading locations. Towns with development are diverting trade from towns without. It is not in this respect so much a diversion from town centre to out-of-town as from old shopping stock to new and from small space to big."

The findings of the study are based on The National Survey of Local Shopping Patterns (NSLSP), to which 12 million people have contributed details of their shopping habits.