Aurora Spotlights – March 2018
Reflecting on a week in which heavy snow brought much of Scotland to a standstill, and how other countries plan for this, International Women’s Day yesterday found us reading about how Canada is looking at how to make their snow clearing policy gender balanced (something that is already done in Stockholm and other Scandinavian cities). Certainly some food for thought (link).
Meanwhile, nothing in planning stands still for long so, for this month’s spotlights, read on…
On Holyrood (and housing)
Following a number of high profile cases of music venues and neighbouring residents going head to head over noise issues, the Chief Planner last month issued a letter making it clear that, where there is to be new residential development within the vicinity of an existing music venue, the responsibility for mitigating adverse effects should sit with the housing developer. Conversely, where there is existing housing and a new or extended music venue is proposed, that responsibility would be with the venue operator. While there are strong views on both sides of this debate, this is hopefully a positive step in terms of recognising the contribution that both housing and music venues make to creating great places, and then making both elements of better. There is of course always the question of the status to be afforded to letters from the Chief Planner in determining planning applications, but that’s an issue for another day…. The Chief Planner’s letter can be read in full here.
And on housing elsewhere
In Westminster every day last week seemed to bring a new bold proposal to increase the number of houses being delivered, including removing planning powers from councils who don’t grant permission for new housing in their area (link), and a suggestion that councils should be allowed to take a developer’s previous rate of build-out into account when deciding whether to grant planning permission (link). Indisputable as it is there is a housing crisis on both sides of the border, some might question the legitimacy of these proposals to address it, while at the same time looking more closely at the Planning (Scotland) Bill to see if this provides a more democratic solution up here. Time will tell.
On Local Government
Moray and Aberdeenshire Local Development Plans: As highlighted in our last Spotlights (available here), deadlines for responding to the Moray Council’s Main Issues Report and Aberdeenshire Council’s call for sites are fast approaching, these being 30th and 31st March respectively. And, given the proposed changes to the Local Development Plan system in the current Planning (Scotland) Bill, anyone with an interest in these areas would do well to make their views known now.
Aberdeen City and Shire Strategic Development Plan Main Issues Report: Following the publication of the Main Issues Report, as noted in last month’s spotlights (available here), the Strategic Development Planning Authority has announced that consultation on this will take place from 12 March - 21 May 2018. Full details are available here.
On planning applications (or lack thereof)
Reminiscent of similar stories that crop up with certain regularity, one news item that will have caught many planners’ eye this past month is that of a couple who were fined for building a “secret” house inside a garage in Enderby, Leicestershire (link). While the details of the story may seem amusing, it does serve as a warning of the consequences if planning rules are not adhered to!
On the courts
Having lodged a petition for judicial review of the Scottish Government’s moratorium on unconventional oil and gas in January this year, INEOS and Reach Coal Seam Gas have now been granted permission to proceed with their case by the Court of Session. The Court’s Opinion on the petitions is available here, with the full case expected to be heard in May. It is one that many will be watching with interest.
On Thursday evening, we were excited to be at the opening of the bridge to Greyhope bay pop-up shop in the Bon Accord Centre in Aberdeen, supporting plans for a new experience centre to connect the city with the marine world. We would encourage anyone passing by the Bon Accord Centre to pop in and find out more, or check out the Facebook page here.
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Thanks for reading!