Aurora Spotlights - September 2019

Aurora Spotlights - September 2019

by aurora planning

This month saw the Scottish Government launch its Programme for Government 2019 – 2020, with a number of high-profile references to planning within this.  In particular, it is envisaged that the fourth National Planning Framework (a draft of which is expected by summer 2020) will help to radically accelerate the reduction of emissions, with planning seen as vital tool in leveraging the changes needed to transform Scotland’s cities, towns and rural areas into places that support lower emissions lifestyles and businesses. Meantime, for what the power of planning has been achieving this month, read on below…
On Holyrood
The Planning (Scotland) Act 2019 – having been given Royal Assent in July this year, we are now awaiting secondary legislation required to bring the Act’s provisions into force.  Meanwhile,  the RTPI has published a research paper on the financial implications of implementing the Act, highlighting that the cost of additional duties placed on planning authorities could be between £12.1m and £59.1m over a ten year period.  Whilst this is less than anticipated following amendments made to the Bill at Stage 2 in the process (see our March Spotlights), it nevertheless does raise concerns regarding the ability of Council’s to deliver the new system, particularly at a time when planning authorities’ budgets are decreasing in real terms. The RTPI is therefore recommending the Scottish Government look to cover the costs of these new duties in forthcoming spending reviews and budget allocations. It does though remain to be seen whether the Government is willing to do that and, if so, where the money might ultimately come from.
On local government
Angus Plan 2021 – consultation has now started on the new Angus Local Development Plan, Angus Plan 2021, with a dedicated on-line hub setting out how to get involved, including an ideas wall to allow you to share your thoughts and ideas on the important issues for the Plan.  So, if you have any development interests in the Angus area, now is the time to start having your say.
On planning applications
Loch Lomond Banks, Balloch – as regular readers will know, we’ve been following the progress of Flamingo Land and Scottish Enterprise’s proposed development in the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park, including housing, a hotel, holiday lodges, a brewery and a monorail, with interest (for further details on which, see our April and July Spotlights).  After months of controversy though, the application has now been withdrawn, having been recommended for refusal. We suspect this won’t be the end of the story, either for the developer or the community, particularly since Jackie Baillie (MSP) has asked the Scottish Government to support consideration of a community buy out of the land.
Spaceports – a particular highlight for us this month was submitting the Proposal of Application Notice for Space Hub Sutherland, expected to be the UK’s first vertical launch facility, kick starting three months of pre-application consultation on the proposals ahead of a planning application to be submitted towards the end of the year.  We’re looking forward to the first public engagement event in Melness at the beginning of next month, and to seeing the project take shape.  At the same time, the consultation period for Comhairle nan Eilean Siar’s planning application for phase 1 of spaceport infrastructure in North Uist ended this month, with over 600 representations having been submitted. 
Trump – in two separate applications, planning permission has this month been granted for a second 18 hole golf course and 550 new homes at Donald Trump’s Menie Estate in Aberdeenshire.  This represents the latest phase of development, which started with the first 18 hole golf course here just over 10 years ago, and has divided opinion ever since.  The original plans also included a large-scale hotel, however this is no longer being brought forward due to changes in the market, and an over provision of hotel accommodation in Aberdeen City and Shire – an example of how planning requires to be flexible to respond to changing economic circumstances, as well as how it can often give rise to strong views on all sides.
On other matters
Vacant and derelict land – the issue of vacant and derelict land and how to tackle this is recurring one, on which the Scottish Land Commission’s Vacant and Derelict Land Taskforce has recently published a Statement of Intent, calling for a coordinated national effort to realise the potential of such sites. This includes a number of interesting proposals for the Scottish Government, including bringing forward legislation for compulsory sales orders, and recognising community-led regeneration as a strategic priority.  These are both things that we have expressed support for previously (see for example our blog ‘All change for better places’ from the beginning of this year) and so we will be watching closely to see what happens next…
On us
It’s been a busy month for us both in the office and out and about. In particular, Maggie enjoyed being part of an expert panel assembled by the Aberdeen Solicitors Property Centre for their ‘Improve to move’ event, providing advice on how people can add value to their homes by improving or extending them, whether buying or selling now, or looking to do so in future.  This was a well-attended event, and it was great to get to speak to so many people there.
Then, just a few days later, Pippa was speaking at the annual Scottish Planning and Environmental Law Conference as part of a panel on planning and the community empowerment agenda, where there was some particularly interesting discussions on Local Place Plans, and how these might work in practice – something that we will no doubt be picking up on again in future Spotlights! 
Meantime, to find out how we can help with any aspect of the planning process, please visit our website or email us at   Or, if you would like to see our other blogs or sign up for email updates, please click here.
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