Spotlights September 2018
In a month when Storm Ali caused significant disruption to travel across the UK, the question of how we plan for a changing climate is increasingly coming to the fore, as is the role of sustainable transport within that. Pertinent to this, our September Spotlights looks at progress of the Transport (Scotland) Bill and the legal challenge facing the proposed new third runway at Heathrow, along with other key things that have been happening in planning this month, irrespective of the weather…
Transport (Scotland) Bill - In our June Spotlights we reported the introduction of the new Transport (Scotland) Bill. Now, the Stage 1 process is well underway and the lead committee - the Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee - has launched a call for written views on the Bill’s proposals. Whilst some of the proposals are very specifically transport related, others such as Low Emissions Zones and Regional Transport Partnership Financing are likely to have a wider impact on how places work. As such, these will require transport and planning authorities to work closely together in their implementation to maximise the potential benefits arising from them. Views can be provided anonymously by way of an on-line survey, available here, and the deadline for representations is Friday 28 September 2018.
Planning (Scotland) Bill – Meanwhile the Planning Bill marches on, with Stage 2 having commenced on 19 September. This is the stage at which amendments to the Bill’s proposals are debated by the Local Government and Communities Committee and will culminate in a new version of the Bill which will then be considered at Stage 3. The Stage 2 debates take place over three days throughout September, the last being this week (September 26). Details of the proposed amendments and the Official Reports on the first two days of debate are available here , with some of the significant areas in which amendments are proposed being: the purpose of planning (with a number of potential definitions put forward); third party/equal rights of appeal (again with several different potential forms proposed); the definition of development (with a proposed amendment to include agriculture and forestry within this); local place plans (including a proposed amendment that would remove these altogether); and the role of open space strategies (with a proposed amendment to give these a statutory footing). We will continue to watch the progress of the Bill with interest!
Vacant and derelict land taskforce – As we noted in our August Spotlights, how abandoned or neglected land might be brought back into use is a hot topic at the moment, connected to which the Scottish Land Commission and the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency have this month announced the establishment of a new vacant and derelict land taskforce. The taskforce brings together leaders from the public, private and social enterprise sectors, and aims to transform the approach currently taken to vacant and derelict land in Scotland to deliver economic and social benefits for the communities in which it is located. If properly resourced and with a commitment from all parties to it, surely this must be a positive initiative? Further details on the taskforce are available here.
On local government
Aberdeen City Council affordable housing contributions – Pursuant to the Aberdeen City Centre Masterplan objective of creating “a living city for everyone”, Aberdeen City Council commissioned the City Centre Living Study to provide a comprehensive review of the property market in the city centre. The study then also made a number of recommendations to encourage the growth of the city centre population by making residential development there more viable, including a moratorium on developer obligations in respect of affordable housing within the city centre. That recommendation has now been agreed by the Planning Development Management Committee for a two year period from 20 September 2018 to 31 December 2020. This may well be good for stimulating some city centre developments but, if less affordable housing is built as a result, then there is a question as to whether this will actually create "a living city for everyone" as intended....
Aberdeenshire Main Issues Report – Following the call for sites for the next Aberdeenshire Local Development Plan earlier this year (on which, see our February Spotlights), the Council has this month announced that they propose to formally publish the Main Issues Report in the first week of January 2019, with Area Committees set to consider early drafts over the next six weeks. It is expected that the papers will be published on or about:
- 25 September 2018 for the Banff and Buchan Area and Marr Area;
- 2 October 2018 for the Buchan Area and the Garioch Area; and
- 23 October 2018 for the Formartine Area and Kincardine and Mearns Area.
On planning applications (or in this case listed building consents)
Broadford Works – Aberdeen City Council’s Planning Development Management Committee this month agreed to the substantial demolition of the Grey Mill at Broadford Works, a Category A listed complex of historic textile factory buildings on the edge of Aberdeen City Centre. Within this complex, the Grey Mill is the oldest iron framed structure in Scotland, and thought to be the fourth oldest in the world. The developer wishes to replace the Mill with 36 flats on the same footprint, the planning application for which is still to be determined, although planning permission in principle has already been granted for a residential led (890 unit) mixed use development on the wider site. The decision to allow the demolition of the Grey Mill was on the grounds that failure to do so would render the redevelopment of the site as a whole unviable and jeopardise significant public and community benefits associated with this, including the repair of the remaining 11 Category A listed buildings on the site.
On the courts
Heathrow Judicial Review – Following the Westminster Parliament’s backing of plans to build a third runway on 25 June this year (on which, see our June Spotlights), that decision is now being challenged formally by way of judicial review. As anticipated, the challenge has been brought by a number of local councils, the Mayor of London and Greenpeace acting together, with grounds of challenge based on air quality, inadequate environmental assessment, climate change, inadequate surface access, breach of the habitats directive and flawed consultation. At the same time, the Government faces a challenge from Friends of the Earth, who are looking for the Airports National Policy Statement (which provides the policy framework for the proposed Heathrow airport expansion) to be quashed on the grounds that it fails to account for adverse impacts on future generations. For future developments on both challenges, watch this space…
In the week before Storm Ali hit, our director Pippa enjoyed a trip down to Edinburgh to present at the annual Scottish Planning and Environmental Law conference, looking at the relationship between the planning system and other recent reforms in terms of community empowerment, community rights to buy and bringing abandoned and neglected land back into positive use. And for more on this, look out for our blog coming soon!
Meanwhile, another highlight for us this month was the news that the Victoria Road School site in Aberdeen is set to be redeveloped for affordable housing and community facilities by Grampian Housing Association and the Torry Development Trust. Having worked closely with Torry Development Trust in connection with their proposals for the school, we look forward to seeing a development that delivers what the community are looking for, while also providing much needed affordable housing for the city as a whole.
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Thanks for reading!