November is the month of world town planning day (just in case anyone missed it…), the purpose of which is to celebrate planning and the positive role it plays in shaping the places we live. And, here at Aurora Planning, we very much believe that good planning – and a good understanding of what planning can do – is essential if those places are going to be sustainable now and in the future. On which, read on below for our summary of some key planning things to know about from this month…
Planning (Scotland) Bill – after 7 days of debate, stage 2 of the Planning Bill concluded earlier this month, and an amended Bill published for taking forward to stage 3. Over 300 amendments were considered by the Committee and, while it would be impossible to comment on them all, our summary of some of the interesting highlights is available here. We remain to be convinced that all of amendments agreed will achieve the original intention of the review, which was to deliver a quicker, more accessible and efficient process, and we'll be watching with interest to see what happens at stage 3!
Housing Beyond 2021: Discussion Paper – one of the initial drivers behind the review of planning was to increase the delivery of high-quality housing developments. Related to that aspiration, the Government has issued a discussion paper to help develop a vision for how homes and communities should look and feel in 2040, and how to get there – available here. Comments are invited before the end of November, so you’ll need to be quick if you want to have your say, although there will be further opportunities to engage throughout 2019.
Unconventional oil and gas – as touched on in previous Spotlights, the Scottish Government imposed a moratorium on unconventional oil and gas development in January 2015, with the Scottish Parliament more recently voting in favour of retaining this position in October 2017 (creating the ‘effective ban’ which is also not a ban at all, on which see our June Spotlights here). The Government are now consulting on the Strategic Environmental Assessment and partial Business Regulatory Impact Assessment of this policy position, with views invited by the 18 December 2018. For further information on the consultation and how to respond, please see here.
Guidance on Abandoned and Neglected Land – following the coming into force of the new community right to buy land that is abandoned, neglected or detrimental in June this year, the Scottish Government has now issued guidance on this, intended to support communities through the process as a means of bringing land back into positive use. And, with land reform and community empowerment being hot topics at the moment, we expect to have a blog looking at the relationship between these and the planning system coming soon….
On Local Government
Aberdeenshire Local Development Plan – as the next step in preparing the Aberdeenshire Local Development Plan 2021, the Main Issues Report papers were published for the Infrastructure Services Committee on 29 November, with a draft proposed Local Development Plan to be published in January 2019. If you have submitted a site for inclusion in the Plan, or are interested in any potential policy changes, then the most recent update on the LDP is available here.
On planning applications
Edinburgh Botanic Gardens – anyone who regularly looks at our Facebook page will have noticed our fondness for using our Aberdeen windowsill for growing plants more usually found in warm climates (mainly aubergines and chillies). So we’re excited to see that the Royal Botanic Gardens in Edinburgh are taking things a step further and have announced plans to refurbish and refresh its glasshouses in what has been described as potentially the most significant project in the gardens’ history, with funding from the Scottish Government to take the proposals to planning permission stage. Further details on the plans are available here.
On the courts
Short term holiday lets – as noted in our most recent blog on the Planning Bill, the amended Bill will now expressly require short term holiday lets to acquire planning permission, in a move to address issues with a large number of residential properties in cities such as Edinburgh being put to such use, seemingly without any controls. We say “seemingly” no controls because, even in the absence of the provisions now proposed in the Bill, local authorities can take enforcement action against such changes of use. That has been demonstrated this week by the widely reported case of landlords in Edinburgh having been banned from letting out their flats on AirBnB after complaints from neighbours (see, for example, article in the Scotsman here). So, we ask the question, given that enforcement action can be taken as things stand, is new legislation really needed, or does the current law just need to be more stringently applied?
It’s been a busy month outside the office as well as in, with one particular highlight for us being attending the Aberdeen Society of Architect’s (ASA) ‘postcard of a place’ exhibition, showcasing the artistic talents of our local architects with works on what Aberdeen/Aberdeenshire looks like to them – an excellent opportunity to reflect on our place and the way we see it. Something which is of importance to architects, planners, and us all!
On which, to find out how we can help with any aspect of the planning process, please visit our website or email us at email@example.com. Or, if you would like to see our other blogs or sign up for email updates, please click here.
Thanks for reading!
Pippa and Maggie