Councillors to decide on next step for the 2016 Local Development Plan

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Councillors will be asked to authorise publication of and consultation on the Aberdeenshire Council Local Development Plan 2016 Main Issues Report on Thursday, October 10.

Extensive consultation with community groups, other stakeholders and councillors has already begun in the development of the latest planning blueprint for the area.

The four-year project will lead to the creation of a new Local Development Plan setting a framework for development of land in the area from 2016-2021 and beyond.

The current plan was adopted in July 2012 and provides detailed information up to 2016. Development of the next plan involves three key stages of consultation.

The main focus for 2013 has been informal engagement with community and stakeholder groups.

This has resulted in the ‘Main Issues Report’, which identifies 18 main issues, looking at such things as what can be done to support town centres and how to deliver housing for people on modest incomes.

It also focusses on some communities, asking whether an out-of-centre retail facility should be provided in Ellon, and how to promote regeneration in Banff and Buchan.

Members of Aberdeenshire Council’s Infrastructure Services Committee (ISC) will be asked to approve publication of the report at its meeting in Aberdeen.

The committee will also be asked to authorise a series of 39 public events in local communities from November, details of which will be advertised in the local press and on the Aberdeenshire Council website.

The consultation period would last for three months from publication of the report and views would be invited on any matter associated with the development plan; it is not restricted only to the “main issues” identified.

The Main Issues Report outlines what needs to change in the current plan, and sets out preferred options alongside reasonable alternatives. This includes changes to the policies used to determine planning applications as well as additional land allocated for development.

An invitation was issued to the development industry and landowners to advise Aberdeenshire Council of which sites they think should be in the Local Development Plan, and why.

It was not expected there will be significant additional allocations of land in the next plan, although some sites in the existing plan that haven’t been developed could be replaced.

The Main Issues Report also takes account of views expressed by Scottish Natural Heritage, Scottish Environment Protection Agency, Scottish Water, Scottish Enterprise, NESTRANS, and Grampian Health Board.

If councillors approve publication of the Main Issues Report and the public engagement, a proposed Local Development Plan is expected to be produced towards the end of 2014.

Thereafter, the Scottish Government will lead public examination of objections to the proposed plan. Assessing formal objections and holding the examination is estimated to take around 18 months.

The new Local Development Plan and associated supplementary guidance is expected to be adopted in April 2016.

Planning Policy Team Leader, Piers Blaxter, said: “There was a significant amount of engagement and public interest in the development of the last plan, approved in 2012, and we want to build on that, ensuring that it is a community-led plan for the future of the area.

“It is important to secure as wide a range of views as possible, because only this ensures that the final plan is relevant and valuable as a planning guidance document for our local communities.”

Aberdeenshire Council’s Head of Planning, Robert Gray, said: “This process is one of the most comprehensive pieces of planning that any council undertakes and is necessarily a lengthy process, to ensure the plan is shaped correctly, taking into account everyone’s views.”

Publication of the Local Development Plan Scheme was approved at an earlier meeting of ISC.

This sets out the process for the production of the next Local Development Plan and associated timescales.

More information on the Aberdeenshire Local Development Plan can be found at www.aberdeenshire.gov.uk/ldp