As lockdown restrictions are now starting to be relaxed, planning has an important role to play in shaping our post-Coronavirus cities – on which, if you have not already read it, our blog from earlier this month looks at how these might compare to those we lived in just a few months previously, and look out for next month’s blog on further post-Coronavirus changes. At the same time, as we all adapt to the new normal (however temporary that normal may turn out to be), planning continues to impact on a wide range of matters completely unrelated to Coronavirus. For more on both, read on below…
Coronavirus (COVID-19): Planning Procedures – the latest Coronavirus related letter from the Chief Planner provides an update on recent actions introduced to keep the planning system moving, some outstanding issues, and the next steps for planning in working to support recovery. This makes it clear that site visits can now be carried out if that can be done within the scope of physical distancing requirements, and highlights that planning can play an important role in enabling business operations to get back up and running again. Importantly, the letter stresses that planning authorities are expected to take a reasonable, positive and supportive approach to allow temporary use for on-street seating for cafes and bars, beer gardens and similar to accommodate social distancing, as well as being supportive of reasonable changes and requests to extend working hours for construction sites. We do though still need the Scottish Government to allow the hospitality sector to reopen for this latest letter to have the positive impact intended.
The Town and Country Planning (Notification of Applications) (Spaceport Related Developments) (Scotland) Direction 2020 – in force from 11 June, this Direction requires all planning authorities in Scotland to advise Scottish Ministers of receipt of any new planning applications for spaceport related development, in order to assist in providing a national overview of such development in the planning system (for more on which, see the latest on the planning application for the UK’s first orbital spaceport below).
Changing Places Toilets – new Regulations are now in force requiring all planning applications for the development of large public buildings to incorporate at least one ‘changing places toilet’, these being facilities that are suitable for use by people that have complex care needs and for whom standard accessible sanitary facilities are not adequate. In addition to standard facilities, they are required to provide additional space for assistants, an adult sized changing bench and a hoist.
On the Courts
The tilted balance – at the beginning of this month, the Court of Session’s decision in Gladman Developments Limited against The Scottish Ministers ( CSIH 28) confirmed that a ‘tilted balance’ in favour of the grant of planning permission applies in cases where there is a housing land shortage in Scotland. This makes it clear that, where the presumption in favour of sustainable development contained in Scottish Planning Policy is a significant material consideration (as it is in cases where there is a housing land shortage), the adverse impacts of the proposed development must significantly and demonstrably outweigh the presumption in favour of development if an application is to be refused. The same principle would apply when a development plan is more than five years old, making it all the more important for Planning Authorities to keep their development plans up to date, with no shortfall in the housing land supply.
On local government
Aberdeenshire Local Development Plan – as set out in last month’s Spotlights, consultation on the Proposed Aberdeenshire Local Development Plan 2020 is ongoing. The Council has though recently extended the deadline for responses, with these now invited up to 31 July 2020. If you have an interest in any development sites in Aberdeenshire or in the policy direction that the Council is taking, and are looking for assistance in responding to the consultation, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.
On planning applications
Space Hub Sutherland – as agents for this planning application, we are delighted this week to have received a recommendation of approval for the proposed development of the UK’s first orbital spaceport, located in north Sutherland. This is a very exciting project to be involved in, with the potential to bring significant benefits in terms of monitoring critical climate change indicators, as well as social and economic benefits for the local area and beyond. It is particularly gratifying as the development has strong local support, including from the three local Community Councils. The application will be considered by The Highland Council’s North Planning Applications Committee on 26 June 2020, and we hope to receive a positive outcome then.
This month, we celebrated our third birthday – socially distanced of course! It's not how we expected to be celebrating this birthday, but then a lot of unexpected things have happened over the past 3 years, and we’re still going strong. So, once again, we’d like to thank everyone who has worked with us and supported us over this time, and we’re looking forward to seeing what the year ahead brings!
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