Aurora Spotlights - October 2019

Aurora Spotlights - October 2019

by aurora planning

All planning matters aside, the thing we are probably most excited about this month is our logo having been given a Halloween makeover – check it out below!  But, before we too don our witches’ outfits, here is a summary of what’s been happening in the much less spooky realm of planning this month…

On Holyrood

Planning (Scotland) Act 2019 – the Scottish Government has published its work programme for implementing the Planning (Scotland) Act 2019 and continuing its wider programme of planning reforms, which is available here.  This indicates that most of the Act should be implemented by early 2021, with a commitment to taking reforms forward in a collaborative way.  For further details on individual elements of the work programme as it progresses, watch this space…

Transport (Scotland) Bill – after two days of debate, the Transport (Scotland) Bill was passed by the Scottish Parliament on 10 October, bringing in a range of new transport provisions which Councils can use in tandem with planning powers to improve the places we live and work. These include the controversial power for local authorities to introduce workplace parking charges to reduce emissions, which only Glasgow and Edinburgh have so far said they intend to use, and it remains to be seen if other local authorities will follow suit.  Other key provisions in the Bill as passed include giving councils and regional transport partnerships more flexibility to improve bus services (either by working with bus companies or by stepping in and running services themselves), measures to ban double parking and parking on pavements, and powers for enforcing low-emission zones in cities.

Fracking – following last year’s Court of Session decision that the Scottish Government’s policy position on unconventional oil or gas development (UOGD) did not constitute a ban as such (as covered in our June 2018 Spotlights), the Minister for Energy, Paul Wheelhouse, has this month told MSPs that the position of no support for UOGD will continue indefinitely.  This is given effect by a Direction requiring planning authorities to notify Scottish Ministers of all planning applications for UOGD so that they can be called in and determined accordingly.  It is now expected that an application by Ineos to produce coalbed methane near Airth that has been pending determination since 2012 will be refused, and that the current policy position will be underwritten in the next National Planning Framework. With a draft of National Planning Framework 4 not expected until summer 2020 however, that of course remains to be seen.

On local government

South Ayrshire LDP2 – South Ayrshire Council is currently consulting on its proposed new Local Development Plan (LDP2) which, when adopted, will replace the adopted South Ayrshire Local Development Plan (2014) and Town Centre and Retail Local Development Plan (2017).  The deadline for responding to the consultation is 16:00 on 15 November 2019, and further information is available here.

On planning applications

Hill of Rubislaw – in a personal highlight for us this month, we were delighted to submit a proposal of application notice for a revised scheme for up to 250 flats at Rubislaw Quarry in Aberdeen.  This scheme reflects comments made on previous proposals from last year and, as well as private rented flats, includes a gym, function room, public bistro and promenade.  A public consultation event will be held at the Treetops Hotel on Springfield Road on 20 November from noon until 19:00, and we look forward to sharing the proposals with the public and answering any queries on these then.   

Trump – in last month’s Spotlights, we commented on Aberdeenshire Council’s decision to grant planning permission for a second 18 hole golf course and 550 new homes at  Donald Trump’s Menie Estate in Aberdeenshire.  This month, plans for a major expansion of his Turnberry resort have been in the news, after proposals to have land around the resort included in the next South Ayrshire Local Development Plan (LDP2) for the development of 87 houses and an unspecified number of villas were rejected by planners, with the land instead proposed to be subject to a new policy designed to safeguard key tourism sites. We do though suspect that this will not be the last that is heard of the Trump Organisation’s plans for Turnberry.

On other matters

Urban creep – while anyone seeking planning permission for new houses on a greenfield site will generally have to demonstrate that the development will be adequately drained and will not increase flood risk, less is known about the incremental impact of small scale extensions to residential development (such as the creation of new car parking spaces, conservatories, or paving instead of lawns), for which planning permission is not usually required.  Now, in what’s reported to be the first study of its kind, researchers in Edinburgh have identified that an area of green land the size of nine football pitches is being lost to such development in the capital each year, with this being described as ‘urban creep’ and giving rise to concerns about the increased risk of localised flooding as a result.  More information on the study and its findings is available here.

Eden Project – also on the theme of the environment, it is understood that the Eden Project (the Cornwall site of which boasts massive biomes housing plants from many diverse climates) is holding exploratory talks over developing a new project in Dundee.  Although this is at very early stages, it is certainly something that we will be looking out for with interest!

On us

While we are very much a Scottish practice, there are of course many parallels between the planning system south of the border and our own, and we always welcome opportunities for cross-border learning. To this end, Maggie travelled to London earlier this month to take part in the British Chamber of Commerce’s expert planning panel meeting, providing a great opportunity to share experiences, ideas, and aspirations for planning across the UK. The English panel members were keen to hear about our new Planning Act, whilst discussions around permitted development rights and design matters in England were of particular interest to us, and we hope to be able to report more on these in the future.

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.

Thanks for reading, and happy Halloween!


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