With Spring now officially underway and the prospect of longer warmer days ahead, many people will be looking forward to spending more time out of doors.  But the promise offered in the Planning Bill of a statutory requirement for local authorities to have up-to-date open space strategies which would deliver high quality open spaces for all to enjoy may need to wait for another day…

On Holyrood

The Planning (Scotland) Bill – following a significant number of amendments (on which, see our blog here), the publication of the financial memorandum on the Planning Bill this month reveals the potential financial implications of these, with predicted costs over 10 years of between £18 million and £75 million for planning authorities, and between £395 million and £1.17 billion for developers and others. Kevin Stewart, the Minister responsible for planning, has spoken of the need to work constructively to “rescue” the Bill and return it to a shape that allows it to support inclusive growth.  As such, it remains unclear when (or if) the Bill will proceed to the next stage of the parliamentary process…  For more on the scrutiny process, look out for our future blog.

On the courts

Aberdeen Football Club Kingsford Stadium – at the beginning of this month, the Court of Session upheld Aberdeen City Council’s decision to grant planning permission for the new Kingsford Stadium for Aberdeen Football Club.  In refusing the petition for judicial review, the Court stated that the Council had given proper, adequate and intelligible reasons for its decision, and was not misled by incorrect information, as had been contended by the No Kingsford Stadium group.  The group has since confirmed that it will not appeal that decision, bringing the challenge to the development to an end.

Third Heathrow runway – meanwhile in England, the Mayor of London, Friends of the Earth, and five local authorities were in the High Court this month to challenge Westminster’s decision to back plans for a third runway at Heathrow Airport.  As highlighted in our June Spotlights, there are strong arguments both for and against the proposed development, with the key issues before the High Court being the impacts on the environment and people living in the area, as well as a suggestion that the decision to favour the proposed third runway over other options was biased.  We will be looking out for the decision with interest.

On Local Government

Inner Moray Firth Local Development Plan – The Highland Council has announced its intention to review the Inner Moray Firth Local Development Plan, with a “call for sites” to be considered for development expected in late spring or early summer 2019. Further information is available here and, if we can provide any support in participating in the review process, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Aberdeenshire Local Development Plan – the deadline is fast approaching for responses to be made to Aberdeenshire Council’s Main Issues Report.  So, if you’d like to have your say, then make sure you get your comments submitted by 8 April.

On planning applications

Trump – controversial plans for 550 new homes as well as shops, offices and food outlets on the Menie Estate in Aberdeenshire were this week considered by the Council’s Formatine Area Committee but, although recommended for approval by planning officers, members were divided as to whether or not to support the application.   The proposals have attracted significant opposition, at least partly because they do not accord with provisions in the adopted Local Development Plan which, amongst other things, require a previously proposed hotel to be delivered on the site before any residential development takes place.  In recommending the application for approval however, the committee report indicates that the Council can validly accept that significant changes in the economy in the last 10 years should lead to reassessing whether it is still reasonable to insist on that.  The application will now be considered by the full Council on April 25, and it will be interesting to see whether they adopt this view.  Whichever way the vote goes, it raises interesting questions about the weight that might be given to economic circumstances as a material planning consideration.

On us

For the spring chickens amongst us, a highlight of this month for Pippa was attending the RTPI’s Scottish Young Planners’ Conference in Dundee.  It included interesting presentations from a range of practitioners, as well as practical learning sessions, and was impossible to come away from without feeling excited about the future of the planning, whatever happens with the Planning Bill!

Meantime, to find out how we can help with any aspect of the planning process, please visit our website or email us at info@auroraplanning.co.uk. If you would like to keep up to date with our blogs and bulletins, sign up using the form below.

Thanks for reading!

Pippa and Maggie

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