The Examination into the Local Development Plan concluded in June this year with a set of conclusions and recommendations from the Scottish Government Reporter which are normally binding, except in limited circumstances.
Aberdeenshire Council’s area committees were recently presented with the recommendations for scrutiny with their views on whether to accept or otherwise the Reporter’s modifications to the Proposed Aberdeenshire LDP 2022 being considered last Wednesday by the Full Council.
The finalised Local Development Plan 2022 will now be proposed to Scottish Ministers and the Plan adopted on a date probably in late October this year.
During discussion, elected members heard that the Plan will direct decision-making on all land-use planning issues and planning applications across Aberdeenshire over the next five years.
It will be the last Local Development Plan to be published prior to new provisions within the Planning (Scotland) Act 2019 which introduces a new style of 10-year plan.
The format of the proposed LDP remains largely unchanged from the existing Local Development Plan 2017, featuring an ongoing vision of helping develop a strong and resilient economy, promoting a high quality of life and sustainable, low carbon places. However both policies, the rules that govern whether planning permission should be granted, and proposed allocations, where development proposals can take place, have been updated.
It also seeks to ensure that the exceptional cultural and natural environment across Aberdeenshire is protected and enhanced. Housing opportunities have been identified including new development sites at Banchory, Portlethen, Kemnay, Echt, Fetterangus, Fyvie, Gourdon, Inverurie, Newburgh, Pitmedden, St Combs and Turriff among others.
The Plan also secures the delivery of much-needed, high-quality energy-efficient housing including opportunity for more than 4,000 affordable homes for which there is a recognised need for across the region.
Development continues to be focused towards the three strategic growth areas along the A90 north and south and the A96.
Aberdeenshire Council has also taken a positive step in removing long-standing sites which have failed to be delivered.
During debate, a seconded motion was tabled by Cllr Glen Reid to have the protected status of an area of land east of Midhill Primary School in Kintore restored after the Reporter deemed there was no justification for recreational open space. However, following advice from the council’s Legal Services, the motion was deemed incompetent and was not accepted.
Members also heard representation from two residents of Potterton around concerns over the impacts future allocated development would have on the existing roads infrastructure and environment in and around the village.
Cllr John Crawley, chair of the council’s Infrastructure Services Committee, said: “It is with great pleasure that I endorse the recommendations and extend my sincere thanks to the officers involved in creating the Proposed Local Development Plan on our behalf.
"From the very start of this process back in 2018, officers have assisted communities and individuals with the complexities of the Plan-making system and have engaged closely with all stakeholders including ourselves on the key decision this document takes on.
“Despite the extremely challenging recent events such as the pandemic, EU exit, inflationary pressures and scarcity of materials and labour, this Plan creates stability and confidence from which our communities can grow.
"This Plan, like the others before it, will direct the right development to the right place and in doing so, sustain our communities with the facilitation and delivery of essential services and facilities.”
Seconding the motion, ISC vice-chair Cllr Isobel Davidson added: “This Plan reinforces the council’s ambition to create sustainable communities and this will be delivered with a focus on place-making, with policies which strive to achieve the highest of design standards and the development of masterplans for strategic development sites. Combined with policies safeguarding our town centres, reducing the need to travel, promoting low-carbon and net-zero technologies as well as securing generous levels of open spaces in new development and an enhancement of biodiversity, it will ensure that our ambition is realised over the Plan period.”
Speaking after Full Council, Council Leader Mark Findlater said: “This Plan and its strategies will provide the critical certainty for both our communities, developers and investors alike over the next five years and will secure the delivery of around 17,000 houses, allocate land for net-zero and low-carbon production, provide considerable employment opportunities and help generate around £6 billion in local economic activity.
“Policies contained within the proposed LDP are intended to ensure the long-term sustainability and prosperity of the area and direct the right development to the right place in line with national policy.
"I would like to personally thank all those who have engaged with us during the consultation process as you have played a significant role in helping to shape a clear vision for future development in Aberdeenshire.”