Aurora Spotlights - March 2021

Aurora Spotlights - March 2021

by aurora planning

In the month that marks a year since we first went into lockdown (and therefore a full year of photos from our home windows rather than our office one!), we are looking forward to anticipated easing of restrictions in the coming weeks, with lots happening in the world of planning to look forward to as well. For more on which, read on…
On Holyrood
Stakeholder update – shortly before the close of the current parliamentary session, the Chief Planner and Minister responsible for planning issued a letter to stakeholders with an update on how the planning system is continuing to work through the pandemic and on recent progress with planning reform. This includes extending the Scottish Coronavirus Acts to 30 September 2021 (on which, see last month’s Spotlights), again asking that the broad approach of relaxing planning controls where reasonable and appropriate continues to support the national response to COVID-19, and ongoing implementation of the Planning (Scotland) Act 2019 (see below…).
Local Place Plans – as part of the process of implementing the Planning (Scotland) Act 2019, a consultation on proposed regulations for the preparation, content, submission and registration of Local Place Plans (LPPs) is now underway, inviting people to give their views on arrangements for producing and working with these. The consultation runs until 25 June 2021, with the regulations then expected to be in place by the end of this year. In parallel with the consultation, a literature review and research report on community-led planning has also been published, alongside a draft ‘how to’ guide which explores how LPPs might be developed and delivered. With future Local Development Plans required to take any registered LPPs for their area into account when being prepared, LPPs have the potential to be a powerful tool, and we would encourage everyone to take an interest in the proposals for these.
Digital Planning: Transformation programme launch – following publication of Scotland's Digital Strategy for Planning, as reported in our November 2020 Spotlights, the Scottish Government has now launched its digital transformation programme, which is expected to deliver new systems and services over the next 5 years. For further information, check out the programme launch video here.
Guidance on the promotion and use of mediation in the Scottish planning system – consultation on the guidance for the promotion and use of mediation in planning ended this month, with responses having been submitted from a wide range of stakeholders, including planning authorities, developers, community groups, professional mediators and the Scottish Public Service Ombudsman. Given that the aims of the new planning system include improving trust, encouraging different mindsets and fostering a willingness to work with (and listen to) the views of others, it will be interesting to see how the views of these different stakeholders are reconciled to provide guidance on mediation that works for everyone.
On local government
Cairngorms National Park Local Development Plan – as of the 27th of this month, the Cairngorms National Park has a new Local Development Plan, included in which is a significant push to deliver more affordable housing in the Park, and we look forward to seeing how this shapes development there over the coming years.
Inner Moray Firth Local Development Plan – the delivery of more affordable housing is also an important driver behind the Main Issues Report for the next Inner Moray Firth Local Development Plan, with one proposal on this being that residential developments in the City of Inverness should provide 35% affordable housing, rather than the current 25%. Consultation on the Main Issues Report was due to end on 1st April, but this has now been extended to 5pm on 30th April, so there is still plenty of time to make your views known.  

Aberdeenshire Council Proposed Local Development Plan - on 12 March, Aberdeenshire Council submitted its Proposed Local Development Plan (PLDP) to the Scottish Ministers for Examination, along with its ‘Schedule 4s’ summarising representations received in response to public consultation on the proposed plan last year. All documents will be available on DPEA’s website once checked and registered to the system, with these expected to also be uploaded to the PLDP webpages of the Council’s website over the coming weeks. Everyone who made representations on the PLDP will be notified by the Council once a Reporter has been appointed to examine the Plan.

Aberdeen City Council Climate Change Plan 2021-2025 – at the beginning of this month, Aberdeen City Council’s Full Council unanimously agreed a five year climate change plan which sets a net zero target for Council assets and operations, as well as interim targets for reductions in carbon emissions. In doing this, Council members described climate change as one of the most important issues facing our planet, and stressed the importance of the Council recognising the challenges of this and reducing emissions accordingly, something on which we strongly agree.
On planning applications
Hill of Rubislaw, Aberdeen – having been approved subject to the conclusion of a s75 Agreement in November last year (on which, see our Spotlights for that month), we are delighted this month to have received the Decision Notice for the development of 245 private rented sector flats at Hill of Rubislaw. We now look forward to seeing the development take place, for progress on which, watch this space…
On a cultural odyssey
The Guardian’s post-lock down excursion – with lockdown restrictions due to be eased but foreign travel remaining unlikely for the time being, the Guardian this month published an itinerary for a post-lockdown excursion comprising 12 cultural highlights across the UK.  It was great to see Aberdeen’s Nuart (street art) and Dundee’s V&A featuring in the list, alongside historic and long established venues elsewhere in the country, with both of these being very recent projects which showcase great urban realm and architecture. We would certainly recommend a visit to both when able to do so!
On us
With our most recent intern having successfully completed his internship with us last month and then having been offered a graduate job on the same day, we have been calling on other employers to join us in nurturing the next generation of planners and highlighting the benefits that internships can bring to both interns and the businesses employing them. See, for example, this article in Scottish Construction Now. We will also be looking to take on another intern later in the year, and so are inviting anyone interested in an internship opportunity with us to get in touch!
Meantime, if 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.

Pippa and Maggie

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