While agreeing with Craig Whelton (Friends of the Scotsman, 22 June) that proposals not conforming to outdated local plans should be approved if they will further “sustainable development” it is noted that there is wide misunderstanding of what the term means among politicians and public/civil servants, including ministers and their reporters. What is deemed “sustainable” by one planning authority may not be by another.
The Highland Council, for example, has clear indicators for deciding if a proposal is “sustainable” while Perth and Kinross Council, although its planning issues are similar, has not. In many ways the proposals in its LDP seem not to be “sustainable” in economic, environmental or social issues. Yet it was approved by ministers. The planning system was established to deal with inequalities in health, incomes and housing. These are still key issues and incompatible with “sustainable development” aims. Few of those who oppose new housing seem to know this, or if so, think other matters more important. They have an interest in keeping a shortage of homes so their values do not fall. Those needing housing rarely participate in planning decisions.
Unless central and local government gets more proactive in dealing with housing needs there will continue to be serious shortages. Aims for health and education cannot be achieved without this happening.