West Highland and Islands Local Development Plan on Area Committee agenda
The preparation of a new West Highland and Islands Local Development Plan (WestPlan) took a step forward today (Thursday 12 January) at a meeting of The Highland Council’s Ross and Cromarty Area Committee.
At the first of three Area Committees to consider the WestPlan today Ross and Cromarty Members agreed the Council’s position on a 20 year vision and strategy for future development in the Wester Ross and Lochalsh areas for inclusion in a Proposed WestPlan document to be issued for consultation later this year.
Members also had the opportunity to discuss issues raised during two previous consultations held last year. The Main Issues Report (MIR) published from April to June last year asked for views on the main issues for people and places in the West Highland and Islands area, and showed options for future development and received over 750 comments. This was followed by an Additional Sites Consultation which allowed people to comment on sites not already considered through the plan process.
Following approval by the Ross and Cromarty Committee today, the Lochaber and Isle of Skye and Raasay Area Committees will now be asked to agree the plan for their areas before the document is published for an 8 week consultation.
Committee Chair, Councillor Margaret Paterson thanked communities for their input. She said: “We are at an important stage in the preparation of the WestPlan which provides ideas for future priorities in the area based around the themes of employment, growing communities, connectivity and transport, and environment and heritage. I would like to thank community groups and individuals who took part in the consultation for really engaging in the process and helping to shape how the area grows over the next two decades.”
The WestPlan will play an important role in the future economy of the area both directly and indirectly by ensuring enough housing is available to match new job opportunities.
Chair of the Planning, Development and Infrastructure Committee Councillor Audrey Sinclair who represents the Wester Ross, Strathpeffer and Lochalsh Ward said: “We need to ensure development is not held back due to the lack of land for housing but this should be in the right scale and location for our communities. By agreeing now where new homes, job opportunities and services should be sited allows us to better plan for the future and be prepared when new opportunities arise such as the potential re-opening of the Kishorn Yard.”
At next week’s Lochaber Committee local members will also get the opportunity to scrutinise the work done to date and discuss how the Plan can bring positive outcomes for the additional jobs potentially coming to the area following the recent announcement by Liberty Group to purchase the Fort William smelter and other former Rio Tinto land within Lochaber.
Communities and members of the public will get the chance to contribute as the Plan will be subject to a further 8 week consultation beginning at the start of May. After this, the next stage will be submitting the Plan to Scottish Ministers for the Examination of any outstanding issues.
In the meantime further information and all the documents produced to date are available by visiting www.highland.gov.uk/whilp