April marks the anniversary of the Battle of Culloden and, with the National Trust for Scotland consulting on what new development (if any) would be acceptable near the site, and the Scottish Battlefields Trust suggesting that the land should be bought on “behalf of the nation” to safeguard it from any future development, we’re reminded of how often planning can feel like a battle for both developers and communities…

Amongst many other things, April marks the anniversary of the Battle of Culloden, in connection with which it is interesting to look at what the battlefield site represents now, as well as what it holds for the future.  In doing this, the National Trust for Scotland has launched the Culloden 300 consultation, seeking views on what new development (if any) would be acceptable near the site.  At the same time, the Scottish Battlefields Trust has this month suggested that the land should be bought on “behalf of the nation” to safeguard it from any future development. This reminds us of how often planning can feel like a battle for both developers and communities, and the lessons that might be learned from Culloden to help ease the pain in those planning battles (on which, see our blog “Choose your battles wisely” from last year). Meantime, for other key planning matters from this month (whether battles or otherwise), read on below…

On Holyrood

Planning (Scotland) Bill – in anticipation of the start of Stage 3 of the Planning Bill, the RTPI Scotland has issued a briefing to MSPs in which, amongst other things, they are urged to work across parties to reduce the number of additional unfunded duties that the Bill imposes on planning authorities, and to find new mechanisms to better resource the system.  Stage 3 is when the Bill is debated by the Scottish Parliament and is the last opportunity to address concerns raised at Stage 2.  For more on the scrutiny process, see our guest blog from earlier this month.

Forestry and Land Management (Scotland) Act 2018  implementing the devolution of forestry to Scotland, the Forestry and Land Management (Scotland) Act 2018 came into force at the beginning of this month, with two new Scottish Government agencies created as a result: Forestry and Land Scotland (which looks after, manages and promotes Scotland’s national forests and land), and Scottish Forestry (which is responsible for forestry policy, support and regulation).  One result of this is that anyone looking to fell trees in Scotland (whether or not in connection with potential development on a site) requires Scottish Forestry to grant a Felling Permission, unless an exemption applies, or another form of felling approval has previously been issued.  Further information on the new regime is available here.

Historic Environment Policy for Scotland (HEPS) – designed to support and enable good decision-making about changes to the historic environment, the Historic Environment Policy for Scotland (HEPS) is set to replace the current Historic Environment Scotland Policy Statement on 1 May 2019.  HEPS will require to be taken into account in the formulation of relevant plans and policies and will be a material consideration in respect of planning applications that might affect the historic environment, as well as applications for listed building and scheduled monument consent.

On Local Government

Aberdeen Local Development Plan – the deadline is fast approaching for responses to be made to Aberdeen City Council’s Main Issues Report.  So, if you’d like to have your say, then make sure you get your comments submitted by 13 May.

On planning applications

Lomond Banks, Balloch – on the theme of planning “battles”, proposed development by Flamingo Land and Scottish Enterprise in the Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park (including housing, a hotel, holiday lodges, a brewery and a monorail, on a site zoned for Visitor Experience in the Local Development Plan) is proving to be just that.  The application for planning permission in principle was submitted in May last year and has been subject to objections from over 1,000 people, but the development also has considerable support (including from the local community council, and Friends of Loch Lomond and The Trossachs).  As is often the case, the arguments are over the balance between the economic and social benefits promised by the development relative to the potential environmental impact. With the developers having now submitted amended plans and additional information to the planning authority, the battle looks set to continue for some time.

Dunard Centre, Edinburgh – plans for a concert centre in Edinburgh’s New Town have been approved by Edinburgh City Council, providing the Scottish Chamber Orchestra with a new home as a result.  The Project was identified as a key element of the Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Region Deal and has been part funded through that, so it’s great to see planning playing its part delivering on City Region Deals’ ambitions.

On us

Earlier this month, we were delighted to have the opportunity to speak at the Aberdeen and Grampian Chamber of Commerce Property Sector event, looking at the Planning Bill and the implications of this for the North East of Scotland.  Participants at the event also got great behind the scenes insights on Nuart Aberdeen from Ross Grant and heard about the very positive progress that has been made towards achieving the region’s renaissance vision from Russell Borthwick.  The three topics were tied together by the theme of placemaking, highlighting that the planning system does not exist in isolation. On which, look out for a guest blog on Nuart Aberdeen coming soon…

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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