In the month that the Programme for Government for the year ahead was published, and the new Chancellor announced his first mini budget, the focus of this month’s Spotlights is not surprisingly on Hollyrood and Westminister, although there is a world of planning beyond that too…. On which, read on below.
Programme for Government – in setting out the actions which the Scottish Government intends to take in the coming year, the Programme for Government 2022 – 2023, which was published this month, doesn’t contain any surprises for planning. Planning does though get a mention in the context of a commitment to developing a Vision for Sustainable Aquaculture with enhanced emphasis on environment and community benefit, including support for local authorities to guide development to the right places through spatial planning. And, in a statement to the Scottish Parliament on the Programme, Nicola Sturgeon also confirmed that her administration will seek approval for the Fourth National Planning Framework this autumn, and so we will look out for further announcements on that in due course.
Coronavirus regulations – after an unprecedented 2½ years, the end of this month sees a number of measures introduced in response to the coronavirus pandemic cease to have effect, including the suspension of the requirement for physical pre-application consultation events. At the same time, temporary guidance which supported the relaxation of planning controls during the pandemic is also to be withdrawn. While our emergence from the pandemic is to be welcomed, there may be mixed feelings about what this means, for example where the emergency measures have enabled hospitality businesses to provide outdoor seating without needing to apply for planning permission, and there is likely to be some uncertainty about the future of this. However, while planning permission will now be needed to retain such seating implemented during the pandemic, it is hoped that a positive approach would be taken to applications to do that, recognising the economic benefits that this can deliver to businesses that are continuing to face an uncertain future in the current economic climate, as well as the social and cultural benefits that a wider range of eating and drinking venues has offered.
Changes to pre-application consultation requirements – along with the return of the need for pre-application consultation events to be held in person, new requirements will come into force from the beginning of next month, most notably that at least two public events must be held during the pre-application consultation period. These requirements do though apply only to Proposal of Application Notices submitted on or after 1 October 2022, with transitional arrangements meaning that the current rules will continue to apply where this is done before then.
Mini-budget – in giving his mini-budget this month, the new Chancellor, Kwasi Kwarteng, announced that legislation will be introduced in England and Wales to reduce planning restrictions and laws derived from the European Union which he believed “constrain our growth”. This seems to be particularly targeted at national infrastructure projects, but the announcement also included plans to increase the disposal of surplus land to build new homes, and the introduction of new investment zones, in which it is proposed that planning rules will be relaxed to accelerate development. Further details are still to be provided on what these reforms will look like in practice, and so we will await those with interest.
On local government
Conclusion of Examination of Proposed Aberdeen Local Development Plan – after a lengthy process, the Scottish Government’s Planning and Environmental Appeals Division has now published the Report of the Examination of the Proposed Aberdeen Local Development Plan, including modifications to be made to this, with it understood that the Council’s Local Development Plan team is now working to make the changes and prepare the Plan’s supporting guidance documents for submission to full Council in December this year.
Aberdeen Beachfront Development Framework – we have previously reported on Aberdeen City Council’s plans for the transformative regeneration of the city centre, including the beach front area, following which the Council is now consulting on the Beachfront Development Framework which contains the specific proposals for the revitalisation of the beach. Those proposals include the redevelopment of the iconic Beach Ballroom, an enhanced public realm and new public park, and a potential new stadium for Aberdeen Football Club, as well as improved connectivity with the city centre. We know that there are likely to be strong and mixed views about some of these proposals so, if you have a view, we would encourage you to make that known before the closing date of 24 October, with details on how to do so available here.
On planning applications
Flamingo Land, Loch Lomond – the saga of the Flamingo Land planning application for a tourist resort on Loch Lomond continues with the perhaps somewhat surprising decision made this month by the local community council to submit a comment in support of the application, despite there being more than 300 objections and a petition with over 30,000 signatures against it. At the same time, Green MSP Ross Greer (who organised the petition) has stated that he may mount a legal challenge to the plans if the National Park does not re-advertise these for consultation following the submission of new visualisations as part of the Environmental Impact Assessment Report, which he believes constitutes new information. We suspect that this one may still have a long way to run…
On other matters
Cairngorms National Park Partnership Plan – although not a statutory planning document, the Cairngorms National Park Partnership Plan 2022 – 2027, which was published this month, will provide the strategic context for the Park’s next Local Development Plan, including a commitment to achieving and going beyond net zero well before 2045. The Plan also identifies a need for at least 200 new affordable and mid-market rental homes to be delivered by 2030. This is then clearly an ambitious document, and we hope to see its vision for the Park delivered through the planning system in due course.
This month, we enjoyed a catch up with our former intern Ross, and also one of his fellow students Ewan, both of whom are currently drafting blogs for us for publication over the next couple of months. It’s great to see the enthusiasm that both Ross and Ewan have for planning as they complete their studies and prepare for their future careers, and we’re looking forward to reading what they have to say!
Meantime, to find out how we can help with any aspect of the planning process, please visit our website or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. 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