In the month when the second stretch of the Aberdeen bypass was opened to traffic, cyclists have been invited to register to cycle along an 18km closed-loop on the weekend of September 8/9. For which, our director Pippa spent the first weekend of this month cycling a tandem from Edinburgh to Aberdeen, but the other half of the team is out of the country for the event (cycling up Mont Ventoux!). So, applications to temporarily fill the co-pilot role are now open!
Meantime, for other things that have been in the news this month, read on below….
Customer service in planning: This month has seen the publication of Scottish Government research on customer service in the planning system, with a view to highlighting good practice and looking at potential improvements The report recognises that planning authorities in Scotland place strong importance on delivering high quality customer service, but that they are constrained by limited staff and financial resources, and that there are areas for improvement. These are identified as being: (i) defining and better understanding customers of the planning system; (ii) placing a greater emphasis on customer service in the planning performance framework; (iii) improving consistency in how customer service is delivered and measured; and (iv) sharing good practice in customer service. Having both worked in and with planning authorities over many years, we know that the staff are highly committed to what they do and that there is a lot of good practice worth sharing. The full report is available here.
Making Places Initiative 2018 – 2019: On a related matter, the Scottish Government has also this month launched the 2018 to 2019 Making Places initiative to encourage communities to positively and actively contribute to the development of their local places, with grant funding available to support a wide range of collaborative, community-led design processes. Projects which received funding last year included workshops for community action plans, walking events, and the creation of the ‘East Pollockshields Urban Common’ on the site of a derelict bowling green. Full details of the initiative are available here.
Compulsory Sale Orders: The theme of abandoned and neglected land featured in both our June and our July Spotlights. Now the Land Commission has published proposals for a new Compulsory Sale Order (CSO), which would provide planning authorities with a means to bring abandoned and neglected land and buildings back into productive use. Unlike existing Compulsory Purchase Powers, this would not mean the planning authority taking ownership of the site themselves, but the triggering of a CSO would instead require the site to be sold by public auction or unconditional tender to the highest bidder. Examples of when these might be used could include the disused Technology Park in Dundee, which was in the news this month for having been issued with an amenity notice, and the Council reportedly keen to see it brought back into positive use (see article here). Full details of the CSO proposals are available here.
On local government
Aberdeen City and Shire Strategic Development Plan: On 24 August, the Aberdeen City and Shire Strategic Development Planning Authority approved the content of the next Proposed Strategic Development Plan (SDP) for the area (the Plan is available here). The Plan continues the strategy of the previous SDP whilst updating it to reflect changes in the national, regional and local context, and will be considered by both Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire Councils in September for final approval as their settled view on the future development of the north east of Scotland. At that point, this will constitute a material consideration in the determination of planning applications, as well as being the subject of a 10 week period for public consultation.
Angus Local Development Plan: Following the adoption of the Angus Local Development Plan in September 2016, updated Supplementary Guidance on Developer Contributions and Affordable Housing and amended draft Supplementary Guidance on Design Quality and Placemaking are out for consultation. The consultation documents are available here, and the closing date for comments is 17 September 2018.
On planning applications
Coul Links: We’ve previously reported on the progress of the planning application for a new 18 hole golf course at Coul Links in Sutherland, which in June was granted planning permission contrary to the planning officer’s recommendation. Scottish Ministers have now called in the application citing the fact that the proposal raises issues of national importance in relation to natural heritage issues and compliance with Scottish Planning Policy. For what happens next, watch this space.
Keen eyes will notice a more professional banner image this month, and a new photo below, as earlier this month we spent a morning with Scott of Scott Cameron Baxter Photography. For two people who are far from comfortable in front of the camera, he did a very good job of making us enjoy our time out in the sun. The usual approach of taking a photo out of the window with a mobile phone will return next month.
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Thanks for reading!