Minutes of Meeting of the Planning, Development, Europe and Tourism Committee held in the Council Chamber, Glenurquhart Road, Inverness on Wednesday 25 May 2005 at 10.30 a.m.
Mr A S Park, Mr A I MacDonald, Mr R Saxon, Mr J H Green, Mr G M Smith
Mr D Allan, Mr F R M Keith, Mr A Torrance, Mr E C Mackinnon, Mrs V MacIver, Mr R MacIntyre, Mr R Durham, Mr M Macmillan, Mr B Barclay,Mr I MacDonald, Mr J Laing, Mr W Fulton, Mr S J Shiels, Mr J T MacDonald, Mr R Lyon, Mr A Milne, Mr C L Goodman, Mr J S Gray, Mrs K G Matheson, Mr R Wynd, Mr B M S Dunlop, Mr A Gordon, Mr B Clark, Mrs O J Macdonald,Mr A R McFarlane Slack.
Non-Members also Present:
Mr W Mowat, Mr W J Ross, Mr D W Briggs, Mrs M E Paterson, Mrs I Campbell
Mrs H Carmichael, Ms E MacDonald, Mr J Ford, Mr R A C Balfour, Mrs M C Davidson, Mr W J Smith, Mrs J N Home, Mrs G McCreath, Mrs S Slimon.
Officials in attendance:
Mr J D Rennilson, Director of Planning and Development
Mr J Greaves, Head of Planning and Building Standards
Mr M Greaves, Head of Development and Strategy
Mr G Robson, Head of Environment
Mr G Hamilton, Natural Resources Manager
Mr A McCann, Economy and Europe Manager
Mr M MacLeod, Policy and Information Manager
Mrs M Grigor, Finance Manager (Central Services), Finance Service
Mrs R Moir, Principal Administrator, Corporate Services
Miss J Maclennan, Committee Administrator, Corporate Services
Mr A S Park in the Chair
1. Apologies for Absence
An apology for absence was intimated on behalf of Mrs L MacDonald.
2. Recent Successes - Civic Trust Awards 2005
There had been circulated Report No. PDET32/05 dated 13 April 2005 by the Director of Planning and Development drawing attention to recent successes in the Civic Trust Awards 2005. Three schemes in Highland had been submitted, from which Telford Street Housing, Pulteneytown, Wick had received a Mention and the Spa Pavilion, Strathpeffer had received a Commendation.
The Committee congratulated those associated with the successful developments and APPROVED the organisation of a local presentation ceremony.
3. Revenue Expenditure Monitoring Statement
There had been circulated and NOTED
Report No. PDET33/05 dated 18 May 2005 by the Director of Planning and Development on Revenue Expenditure for the Planning and Development Service for the period to 30 April 2005. 4. Capital Programme: Environmental Improvements 2005/06
There had been circulated Report No. PDET34/05 dated 17 May 2005 by the Director of Planning and Development on the Planning and Development Service Capital Programme of Environmental Improvements which it was intended to progress over financial year 2005/06 and informing Members of the impact of the introduction of Prudential Controls for Capital Expenditure. In addition, following a review by the Budget Working Group of the Council’s overall Capital Programme, the “floor allocation” of Capital available to the Planning and Development Service was being reduced by 5% per annum. This meant that the Service’s “floor allocation” for 2005/06 was £667,000; but this would be augmented by £153,000 from the Challenge Fund. Proposed projects were detailed in a table appended to the report, which also contained an element for revenue consequences. Resource implications were detailed to Members, together with the revenue maintenance consequences.
The Committee NOTED:-
(a) the Capital Programme for Financial Year 2005/06, as approved in 2004;
(b) the Revenue Resource implications that would arise in future years as a
consequence of these works; and
(c) the progressive 5% reduction in the Planning, Development, Europe
and Tourism Service Capital Programme “floor allocation”.
5. EU Regional Policy Post-2006
At its meeting held on 24 March 2004, the Committee had agreed that a report on the development of EU Regional Policy post-2006, and in particular progress on the case for Objective 1b status for the Highlands and Islands, be brought to each future meeting of the Committee. In this connection, there had been circulated Report No. PDET35/05 dated 11 May 2005 by the Director of Planning and Development updating the Committee on the ongoing evolution of European Union Regional Policy for the post-2006 period and the related activities undertaken by the Council.
The Committee heard that the debate on the amendments to the EU Commission’s proposals on the new General Structural Funds Regulation (the Hatzidakis Report) and on the new European Regional Development Fund Regulation (the Fava Report) had taken place on 24 May 2005. It was anticipated that the outcome would kick start the discussion with the Council of Ministers and help inform lobbying activities which would highlight the Highlands and Islands view over the coming months. During April, in advance of the debate, the Highland Council had had lobbying opportunities at a State Aids Seminar in Spain and at a briefing of MEPs in Brussels about the Statistical Effect Network.
Although activity at a national level had been curtailed as a result of the General Election, at a Scottish level an opportunity had arisen, via CoSLA, to brief Alan Wilson MSP, Deputy Minister for Enterprise and Lifelong Learning. At this meeting the Minister had reiterated the Scottish Executive’s support in principle for the UK position for the repatriation of regional funds and had acknowledged that no agreement would be reached on the Structural Funds until the second half of the year and that the aim of CoSLA and the regional consortia for a budget above the 1% proposed by the UK might result in less money accruing to Scotland via the block grant. However, it was recognised that a Highlands and Islands programme was likely and more details on this would be forthcoming at the meeting of the Scottish Executive Structural Funds Forum on 13 June. There had been an opportunity at the briefing with the Minister to emphasise the need for closer integration and joint working between the Structural Funds Division and the Scottish Executive Environment and Rural Affairs Department; and also to ask the Scottish Executive to bear in mind the prospect of reduced amounts of money available during the period 2007-2013, due to transitional measures, which could have a significant impact on the Highlands and Islands.
In discussion, the view was expressed that, while the Government’s position was for the Structural Funds to be renationalised, this was not supported by the European Commission. Nevertheless, despite many advances and evidence of palpable successes, it was important to continue lobbying strongly for the Highlands position. Some Members felt that a more proactive approach was required from both Members and officials, with a clear direction given as to what the Council aimed to achieve from the EU and opportunities grasped as they presented themselves.
The Committee AGREED:
(a) to seek a meeting of the Statistical Effect network to maintain pressure
(b) to ensure that the Network meets after the debate to reassess its
lobbying agenda in advance of the Council of Ministers meeting at the
end of June;
(c) to seek support from the Scottish MEPs in ensuring that transitional
measures are excluded in any agreement on the budget; and
(d) to seek an early meeting with the new Minister of State for
Productivity, Energy and Industry and the new European Minister, to
ensure that new Ministers are kept abreast of the position of the
Highlands and Islands on EU Regional Policy.
6. Service Plan 2005/08: Review
There had been circulated Report No. PDET36/05 dated 18 May 2005 by the Director of Planning and Development seeking approval of the reviewed and updated Planning and Development Service Plan 2004/05-2007/08. A copy of the draft Plan had also been circulated.
In speaking to the report, the Director explained that this was a mid-term review of the Plan and the opportunity had been taken to sharpen elements within it, and to give a clearer indication of the timescales and resources involved. In reminding Members of the purpose of the Plan, he also highlighted some of the targets and objectives which had already been achieved. He drew attention to the section of the Plan listing internal influences impacting on the Service’s activities, in particular the reference to the projection of declining and ageing population, contrasting with a policy direction which sought a population growth of 700 per annum. He advised Members that, although data still suggested that the Highland population was ageing, figures for the past year showed net in-migration in the region of 2000 from other parts of the UK, exceeding the 700 target and perhaps indicating a shift in the declining population trend. Although information for a single year had to be treated with a note of caution, it was a welcome sign.
During discussion, reference was made to the importance of producing an annual locally-based Housing Land Audit. A shortage of housing was seen as one of the major issues facing the Highlands and there was a clear need, in some areas, for provision to be made as a matter of urgency. Members were assured that the current Housing Audit was being carried out on a site-by-site basis. However, although in each of the previous two years 3000 houses had been granted planning permission, this had far exceeded the rate at which houses were being built. In addition, discussions were taking place with Scottish Water to remove constraints on potential sites in small rural areas. Specific reference in the Plan to pending new crafting legislation was also sought.
After discussion, the Committee APPROVED the reviewed and updated Planning and Development Service Plan for the period 2004/05-2007/08 subject to the addition of the Crofting Reform (Scotland) Bill to the “New and anticipated legislation” category of external influences noted on page 7 of the Plan, given the impact of crofting on all aspects of Highland life.
7. Housing in the Countryside: Revision of Guidance
At its meeting held on 6 April 2005, the Planning, Development, Europe and Tourism Committee had agreed that the Director of Planning and Development prepare an amended Development Plan Policy Guideline – Housing in the Countryside to reflect the guidance contained in Scottish Planning Policy 15 – Rural Development and taking on board the comments made at the Committee meeting. In this connection, there had been circulated Report No. PDET37/05 dated 12 May 2005 by the Director of Planning and Development detailing progress made on preparation of a revised Development Plan Policy Guidance Note on Housing in the Countryside.
The matter had also been discussed at the Portfolio Holders’ meeting on 4 May 2005 and particular attention had been given to the provision of housing associated with existing and new businesses, affordable housing, housing relating to redundant agricultural buildings and the reuse of derelict sites for housing. Design was seen as a key element and further work was to be undertaken on this; however, this would be taken forward separately, as it would take longer to prepare. Members’ comments on the development of guidance relating to Housing in the Countryside were invited up until the end of June.
In discussion, Members welcomed the provision of the guidance note. However, in commenting on specific aspects, it was pointed out that, when trying to gauge how larger applications would fit into the rural landscape, difficulties were often encountered when having to base decisions solely on the information contained in an outline application. It was therefore requested that, as part of the guidance, developers be encouraged to submit as much information as possible and that consideration be given to requiring submission of detailed applications at the outset for housing in the countryside proposals. In this connection, the definition of derelict sites that could be used for housing had also been set out, which stipulated that this related to the rehabilitation of brownfield sites, namely, those sites which had previously been developed. In rural areas, this usually meant sites that were occupied by redundant or unused buildings or where land had been significantly degraded by a former activity. There were a considerable number of rural derelict buildings in the Highlands and the measures outlined were welcomed. However, it would be important not to restrict this solely to agricultural buildings but also to encompass a wider description to include, for example, buildings from which former business had operated. It was requested that further consideration also be given to the nature of settlements, in order to avoid a pepperpot approach as had occurred in the past. Communities should be allowed to develop naturally in appropriate locations, without fixed spacing distances being required to separate properties. This would then allow sustainable transport links etc to be introduced. In addition, in response to a question raised, it was confirmed that Section 75 agreements relating to occupancy conditions would be removed, thus avoiding difficulties that had arisen in the past in obtaining mortgages for houses in the countryside.
Clarification had also been sought on the definition of rural diversification and it was explained that each application would be considered separately. Supporting information would be required in terms of a business plan, clear evidence of financial backing, the demand for the proposal and its suitability to a rural location, but the guidance would also provide appropriate examples. Caution was urged in defining demand for businesses, as over-provision was not a planning consideration. The issue of whether an application would encourage healthy competition or would displace an existing business also encroached on natural competition. There was, it was pointed out, a danger of moving away from planning issues towards a more subjective approach. It was explained, however, that these matters had been raised as part of the Planning Advice Note issued by the Scottish Executive, which had also recommended that specific advice on this be sought from Local Enterprise Companies. It was suggested that there was scope for dubiety in regard to determining whether a business was suited to a rural location, given that there were many examples of business which had developed in rural locations but which, in terms of this guidance, would now be refused planning permission.
Thereafter, having thanked officials for their work in progressing the guidance, the Committee NOTED the progress made on the preparation of a revised Development Plan Policy Guidance note on Housing in the Countryside, with a view to submission to the Committee at its meeting on 17 August 2005 for authority to issue for comprehensive consultation.
8. Renewable Energy Strategy Working Group: Update
At its meeting held on 26 January 2005, the Committee had appointed a Renewable Energy Strategy Working Group to steer, with participation from outside organisations, the preparation of a strategic comprehensive Highland renewable energy strategy for final discussion and approval at the meeting of the Committee to be held on 17 August 2005.
Members were informed that the third meeting of the Working Group had taken place on 3 May and had concentrated on the community impact of renewable developments. The next meeting, which would take place on 1 June, was to consider grid-related issues and would then be followed by a further two meetings prior to the draft policy guidance being produced. Given the considerable public interest on this subject, approved minutes of these meetings were being placed on the Council’s website.
In discussion, reference was made to the strategic environmental impact assessment on parts of Scotland’s coastline being undertaken later in the year. This would provide valuable information on environmental considerations which would steer the Scottish Parliament’s decisions on the future development of off-shore renewable energy technologies and the question was raised as to how the Working Group would feed into this. In reply, it was pointed out that the Working Group was looking at all aspects of renewable energy and, in relation to off-shore technologies, the best information available was being sought and discussion held with all appropriate bodies, all of which was likely to appear in the Scottish Parliament’s evaluation. However, the situation was constantly evolving. National guidance on renewable energy had been awaited for some considerable time and the earliest any such guidance would be produced was still two years away. The Highland Council, in the meantime, felt that some guidance was necessary and had therefore established the Working Group to help formulate this. Whether the guidance would commend itself to the Scottish Parliament or other Local Authorities would be for future consideration.
There were enormous benefits to be gained for coastal communities from off-shore renewable energy projects and it was requested, given the Crown Estate’s role, that this matter be raised at the next meeting of the Crown Estate Review Group in mid June. Off-shore wind farms were very different types of projects in terms of community benefit to those on-shore and the responsibility, although diverse, would not lie with Local Authorities. As a result, the best Local Authorities could do, as a Planning Authority, would be to emphasise community and amenity impacts and try to give a steer as to what would be considered acceptable and in what location.
The Working Group had looked at all aspects of renewable energy, both on-shore and off-shore, and it was important to pull all factors together, taking into account the limited resources available. Major developments were likely to take place in the next 10-15 years and the Council’s ability to respond to this would depend on the work undertaken now. Many of the technologies were still in the early stages of development and therefore the guidance would have to be kept up-to-date. It would also highlight those areas where the key issues and resources lay and where efforts should be concentrated to pioneer developments.
Thereafter, the Committee NOTED the position.
9. Notice of Review
04/01394/Fulin - Erection of Music Venue at 122b Academy
Street, Inverness for La Scala Entertainment Ltd
In terms of Standing Order 13.2, Ms E MacDonald had applied for and been granted a local Member vote.
At its meeting held on 10 May 2005, the City of Inverness and Area Planning Applications Committee had refused, contrary to the Area Planning and Building Standards Officer’s recommendation, to grant an application for the erection of a music venue at 122B Academy Street, Inverness.
The following Notice of Review had been received:-
“We, the undersigned, give Notice of Review in terms of Standing Order 10.5 that the Planning, Development, Europe and Tourism Committee, at its meeting to be held on 25 May 2005:-
(a) rescinds the decision of the City of Inverness and Area Planning
Applications Committee taken at its meeting on 10 May 2005 to refuse
planning permission for the erection of a music venue at 122B
Academy Street, Inverness for La Scala Entertainment Ltd (Ref
(b) instead approves the application in the terms as recommended in the
report dated 25 April 2005 by the Area Planning and Building Control
Ms E MacDonald
Mr R J Lyon
Mrs M C Davidson
Mr J S Gray Mr R A C Balfour
Mr D R Munro
Mrs C M Cumming
Mr C L Goodman
There had been circulated Report No. PL119/05 dated 25 April 2005 by the Area Planning and Building Standards Manager previously submitted to the City of Inverness and Area Planning Applications Committee on 10 May 2005, together with draft Minutes of meeting of that meeting.
The Head of Planning & Building Standards explained that the detailed application before Members was for the erection of a music venue for public entertainment with ancillary facilities, situated on a currently vacant site at the Waterloo end of Academy Street. The submitted plans indicated a 1½ storey traditional building to the Academy Street frontage, providing toilets and bar area on the ground floor and a flat roofed 3-storey building to the rear, providing a hall to accommodate 750 people. The premises would be serviced from Manse Place. A number of representations had been lodged against the application, relating to issues including the effect on amenity, size, noise pollution and parking. However, representations had also been received in support. The applicant had also set out the way in which it was envisaged the premises would operate and the control and marshalling arrangements which could be put in place to allay concerns. In formulating a recommendation, it had to be borne in mind that the proposed venue would be located in a city centre environment and that it also complied with the policies set out in the Local Plan, which encouraged viability and vitality of the city centre through a range of uses including entertainment and leisure. Other parts of the structure plan would, however, need to be considered, including how the development would impact locally. There had been wide consultation and, although concerns had been raised about certain aspects, consultee responses had not raised any objections. On balance, the recommendation was to approve, but with conditions imposed to address and control concerns. The Head of Planning & Building Standards recommended, however, that conditions 10, 12 and 13 be clarified prior to the issue of planning permission and that two further conditions be added preventing the sale of tickets at the venue, to prevent queuing from occurring, and that a plan be submitted by the developer for the approval of the Council detailing marshalling arrangements prior to the opening of the music venue.
During discussion, a number of Members spoke in support of the application. It was argued that the proposal was of strategic importance to the Highlands as a whole in providing a venue for culture and the arts. Although Eden Court was a major arts venue, it did not fill the gap in the area for this type of art provision, where new musical talent could appear, a particularly salient point as the 2007 Year of Culture approached. There was evidence that a venue for the performance of live music for young people was much needed; such a facility would provide this, the main emphasis being placed on its role as a music venue rather than a pub. The city centre was a suitable location for it, being easily accessible by public transport and given the efforts made to make it a vibrant and attractive area able to draw people in. Concerns relating to noise management and parking had been fully addressed in the conditions; however, it was important to take it in context of the area, where there were already three pubs and a night club in close proximity and where it had been recognised that there was already sufficient parking provision within the city centre. A new traffic management scheme for Inverness was also currently under consultation and the junction at Waterloo Place and Academy Street would be significantly modified and simplified, thus reducing the flow of traffic. The application, since being refused by the Area Committee, had received significant support, demonstrating the demand for such a venue. There were few other alternatives for such a facility which would not attract similar objections and which would have less impact on residential dwellings. It was a tight site, but it was adequate for its purpose. Most events would not attract capacity crowds, but rather audiences in the range of 200-400. Eden Court itself was situated close to a church, a hospice and a residential area, but the conditions which had been applied there had mitigated the impact. In summary, there was an urgent need for such a facility to be provided and, if it was not in this location, then the question had to be asked what location Members did consider to be appropriate.
Other Members stressed that the reasons given to refuse the application at the Area Planning Application Committee were proper planning reasons. They were not against a music venue in Inverness in principle, but were of the view that this was an inappropriate location. Alternative locations were available within the ownership of the applicant which had the benefit of being closer to taxi ranks or situated on quieter streets. Concern was expressed that the development would generate a demand for city centre parking that could not be met; moreover, since the report had been written, a decision to close the Rose Street car park at night had been taken, although it was acknowledged that this was presently the subject of a Notice of Amendment to the Area Committee. In addition, the potential of queuing had been highlighted and, at the end of the evening, the potential for even 200 people to converge at what was considered a busy junction was a matter of concern in terms of road traffic safety. Access/egress was to be from Manse Place, but it was suggested that this was inappropriate, given that Safeways plc used it for deliveries both day and night and that the hearses from the funeral homes, which parked in this area, also needed access 24 hrs a day. However, if the application was to be approved, assurances were sought that no vehicles from the venue would be permitted to park on Manse Place and that a CCTV camera would be installed at the expense of the developer. There was concern that, if built, the venue would eventually be extended, thus changing the character of the area. There were churches and cemeteries in close proximity and it was considered out of keeping with the immediate vicinity. With the major developments taking place at Eden Court, it could not be argued that the interests of young people were not being taken into consideration.
After discussion, Mrs K G Matheson, seconded by Mr S J Shiels, moved that the Committee uphold the decision of the City of Inverness and Area Planning Applications Committee to refuse planning permission for the erection of a music venue at 122B Academy Street, Inverness for La Scala Entertainment Ltd (Ref IN/2004/01394), contrary to the recommendation of the Area Planning and Building Standards Manager’s recommendation, on the grounds detailed in the extract of the minute of the meeting of the City of Inverness and Area Planning Applications Committee held on 10 May 2005, namely that the site was inappropriate in terms of location as it would adversely affect residential amenity, that the proposals would constitute an over development of the site and that there would be problems with road safety and traffic congestion.
As an amendment, Mrs E MacDonald, seconded by Mr C L Goodman, moved that the Committee rescind the decision of the City of Inverness and Area Planning Applications Committee and instead substitute a decision to approve the application, in accordance with the Area Planning and Building Standards Manager’s recommendation, but with the restructuring of conditions 10, 12 and 13 and the addition of three conditions relating to ticket sales, marshalling arrangements and the introduction of a CCTV camera at the expense of the applicant, and recommend that the issue of parking controls in Manse Place be further investigated by the Roads Authority.
For the Motion
Mr F R M Keith
Mrs K G Matheson
Mr A I MacDonald Mr S J Shiels
Mr A Gordon
For the Amendment
Mr A S Park
Mr D Allan
Mr R Durham
Mr R Saxon
Mr J H Green
Mr G M Smith
Mr A Torrance
Mr E C MacKinnon
Mrs V MacIver
Mr R MacIntyre
Mr M Macmillan
Mr B Barclay
Mr I MacDonald Mr J Laing
Mr W Fulton
Mr J T MacDonald
Mr R Lyon
Mr A Milne
Ms E MacDonald
Mr C L Goodman
Mr J S Gray
Mr R Wynd
Mr B M S Dunlop
Mr B Clark
Mrs O J Macdonald
Mr A R McFarlane Slack
The AMENDMENT was CARRIED by 26 votes to 5.
The Committee, therefore, APPROVED the application in accordance with the Area Planning and Building Standards Manager’s recommendation, but with the restructuring of conditions 10, 12 and 13 and the addition of three conditions relating to ticket sales, marshalling arrangements and the introduction of a CCTV camera at the expense of the applicant and AGREED to recommend that the issue of parking on Manse Place be further investigated by the Roads Authority.
10. Edinbane Windfarm
At a Special Meeting held on 29 November 2002, the Committee had agreed to grant planning permission for the erection of 27 wind turbines (100m in height), 50m guyed wind monitoring mast, electricity substation, site roads and borrow pits on land south of Edinbane, Skye, subject to conditions as agreed at the meeting and the prior conclusion of a Section 75 legal agreement covering a number of issues including restoration of the site; safeguarding against radio or communication interference; and road repairs/improvements. In this connection, there had been circulated Report No. PDET38/05 dated 11 May 2005 by the Director of Planning and Development updating Members on events that had arisen since that Special Meeting and had resulted in it being considered inappropriate to sign the Section 75 legal agreement and issue the planning permission. The report advised Members that further information was being sought from the applicant, which would be advertised publicly and open to public representation, and that, thereafter, both the new and existing information would be incorporated into a full report to a future meeting of the Committee so that Members could consider the application afresh.
Speaking to the report, the Director explained that, given the passage of time since the Committee meeting in Portree in November 2002, it had been felt necessary to examine whether it was appropriate to issue a decision notice. Following consultation with the Head of Legal Services, expert independent environmental legal advice had been sought, the outcome of which was that, in planning law, a decision was only made at the time the decision notice was issued. There was a requirement to have regard to all material considerations up to that date and reference was made to a peat slide which had occurred at a wind farm site in the Republic of Ireland and where the European Commission had decided to take legal action against the Irish Government over what it saw as inadequate efforts to protect the environment and human health under EU law. It was also vital to take into account the effect of development on nature conservation sites of European importance and the Council had to make certain that the windfarm would not have an adverse impact. Given the new information that had become available and that further information which should be sought in relation to peat slides and golden eagle activity had not yet been tested and considered by the Committee, it had been suggested that it would be unwise to control these issues simply by virtue of conditions. The advice received was that these matters were of significant importance and relevance that they should be put in the public domain and considered by Committee. Other Local Authorities who had not done this had been found to be in breach of planning law and, if the Committee decided not to follow this advice, there was a significant risk that any decision could be successfully challenged and the Council then be found liable for compensation if an approval issued were subsequently revoked. He was able to report that AMEC Wind had already begun an assessment of golden eagle activity and was seeking confirmation of the detail that would be sought in relation to peat slides. Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH), having seen the RSPB information, also had concerns. The natural integrity of a European site was in question and, as such, without the clearance from SNH, the application would have to be referred to Scottish Ministers.
It was not clear at this time whether it would be possible for the application to be considered at the same time as that for a proposed windfarm at Ben Aketil, also on Skye, currently scheduled to be heard on 2 September 2005. However, the Director pointed out that he would have to act on the basis that the Committee’s resolution was still to support Edinbane and consideration of Ben Aketil would have to take into account the cumulative effect. Regardless, redetermination of the Edinbane application would have to take into account all information available, both past and present, and include a new site inspection and Hearing. Otherwise, only those Members who had attended the original Hearing could vote and, given the passage of time, this was only one Member above the quorum.
In discussion, Members expressed concern that the entire application should have to be revisited on the basis of what some considered to be thin evidence from the RSPB about the extent to which golden eagles frequented the Edinbane site. Similarly, as indicated in the report, there appeared to be no indication that there was any significant likelihood of peat slides and, consequently, empathy was expressed with the developer. Members voiced their disappointment at the mechanism used and the potential for objectors to use this system to delay applications. It was suggested that an alternative would be to consider solely the two additional pieces of information, although, as outlined above, this would be limited to those Members still on the Council who had considered the previous application and would be contrary to the advice of officials. Similar windfarm applications had also recently been approved by the Committee and it could be argued that these too might need to be reconsidered. It was an unprecedented move to set a Committee resolution aside, especially as all the issues that had been raised had been dealt with. Therefore, the only reason that the Committee was reconsidering the application was in order to minimise exposure to a risk of a successful legal challenge to its decision. It was considered that the rights of third parties were being considered as paramount and it could be argued that this threat could be viewed as intimidation. It was likely to set a precedent for future application and there was also the possibility that the applicants themselves could also threaten legal action. The advice provided to the Committee was accepted, but Members expressed their disappointment at the delay that such a course of action would entail.
The Committee otherwise NOTED the position.
11. Proposed Hydro-Electric Generating Scheme at Glendoe,
Inverness-Shire: Arrangements for Approval of Detailed Matters
At a Special Meeting held on 20 April 2004, the Committee had agreed:
(a) not to object in principle to the construction of the Glendoe Hydro
Scheme, subject to the terms of the Director’s recommendations, as
set out in the report, in relation to pre-conditions and to matters which
should be covered by planning conditions and agreements, with
additions as agreed by the Committee; and
(b) to delegate negotiation of such planning conditions and agreements to
the Director of Planning and Development, in consultation with local
In this connection, there had been circulated Report No. PDET39/05 dated 13 May 2005 by the Director of Planning and Development reminding Members that one of those approved recommendations had been that, when details of buildings, structures, etc, were known, there should be a period of public consultation, with the Council’s prior written agreement required for various matters.
The Committee AGREED that the process of any wider public consultation and any issues that might arise be delegated to the Director of Planning and Development in consultation with the Chairman and local Members.
12. Ardersier Yard – Revocation of Hazardous Substances Consent
There had been circulated Report No. PDET40/05 dated 9 May 2005 by the Director of Planning and Development inviting the Committee, without prejudice to the consideration of any redevelopment proposals that may be brought forward, to pursue an order to revoke the existing Deemed Hazardous Substances Consent to store Liquid Propane at the former oil platform fabrication yard at Ardersier.
The Committee so AGREED.
13. Audit Scotland Statutory Performance Indicators for
Development Control and Building Standards
There had been circulated and NOTED Report No. PDET41/05 dated 17 May 2004 by the Director of Planning and Development on the Development Control and Building Standards Performance Indicator returns for financial year 2004/05 and the comparison with previous years’ figures.
14. Inverness Local Plan – Deposit Draft with Modifications –Report
of Public Local Inquiry
At a Special Meeting held on 9 and 10 May 2005, the City of Inverness and Area Planning (Policy), Development, Europe and Tourism Committee had considered a report by the Director of Planning and Development in relation to the recent Public Local Inquiry into the Inverness Local Plan. That Committee had made recommendations to this Committee in respect of further Modifications (2) to the Local Plan and related matters.
In this connection, there had been circulated Report No. PDET42/05 dated 12 May 2005 by the Director of Planning and Development in relation to those parts of the local Plan that related to the Strategy/General Policies, the City of Inverness, A96 corridor (part), the Hinterland and the Rural Development Area. There had also been re-circulated the Area Report No PDET17/05 dated 3 May 2005 by the Director of Planning and Development, previously considered by the City of Inverness and Area Planning (Policy), Development, Europe and Tourism Committee.
During discussion, Members were informed that the Chairman and the Chief Executive had received letters in relation to a particular change made at the meeting of the City of Inverness and Area Planning (Policy), Development, Europe and Tourism Committee. The Director of Planning and Development pointed out that those making these representations would have a right to object formally to post-inquiry modifications as part of the process leading to the adoption of the Local Plan. Disappointment was expressed at the Reporter’s decision to tighten up the flexibility that Inverness Area Members had introduced to the Housing in the Countryside policy in relation to smaller, unidentified settlements, but it was accepted that it would be inappropriate to undertake a review of this particular issue until the Local Plan had been finally adopted.
Thereafter, the Committee AGREED:
(a) the proposed Modifications to the Deposit Draft with Modifications of
the Inverness Local Plan set out in the Appendix to the Director’s report
to the City of Inverness and Area Planning (Policy), Development,
Europe and Tourism Committee of 9/10 May 2005 and as amended by
the detailed changes set out in the Annex to this report;
(b) publication of the Deposit Draft of the Inverness Local Plan with
Modifications (2) and to place this on deposit for six weeks in
accordance with statutory requirements; and, subject to their
consideration of any objections, to complete statutory procedures
leading to adoption of the Local Plan; and
(c) the Deposit Draft Plan with Modifications (2) as a material consideration
to be taken into account in conjunction with the Adopted Local Plans
for the purpose of development control within the Inverness Area.
15. Inverness Local Plan – Deposit Draft with Modifications – Report
of Public Local Inquiry:A96 Corridor/Inverness
Airport Economic Development Initiative
Declarations of Interest
Mr R Lyon also declared a non-financial interest in this item as his son was the Managing Director of Highlands and Islands Airport Limited, and elected to remain in the room.
At a Special Meeting held on 9 May 2005, the City of Inverness and Area Planning (Policy), Development, Europe and Tourism Committee had considered a report by the Director of Planning and Development in relation to the recent Public Local Inquiry into the Inverness Local Plan. That Committee had made recommendations to this Committee in respect of further Modifications (2) to the Local Plan and related matters.
In this connection, there had been circulated Report No. PDET43/05 dated 12 May 2005 by the Head of Development and Strategy in relation to the A96 Corridor/Inverness Airport Economic Development Initiative, separate from other Public Inquiry matters, given the position of the Director of Planning and Development as the Council’s nominated Director of the Joint Venture Airport Development Company. The Director was not present during discussion of this item. There had also been re-circulated the Area Report No PDET18/05 dated 3 May 2005 by the Head of Development and Strategy, previously considered by the City of Inverness and Area Planning (Policy), Development, Europe and Tourism Committee.
Having been informed of the Reporter’s recommendations in regard to the validation of the transport interchange and the reconsideration of industrial and business land allocations at the airport and the detail of the proposed responses made to these, the Committee AGREED:
(a) the proposed Modifications to the Deposit Draft with Modifications of
the Inverness Local Plan set out in the Appendix to the Director’s report
to the City of Inverness and Area Planning (Policy), Development,
Europe and Tourism Committee of 9 May 2005;
(b) to authorise publication of the Deposit Draft of the Inverness Local Plan
with Modifications (2) and place this on deposit for six weeks in
accordance with statutory requirements; and, subject to their
consideration of any objections, to complete statutory procedures
leading to adoption of the Local Plan; and
(c) to recognise the Deposit Draft Plan with Modifications (2) as a material
consideration to be taken into account in conjunction with the Adopted
Local Plans for the purpose of development control within the Inverness
16. Natural Resources Projects – Fisheries Development and
Other Projects Activity 2005/2006
There had been circulated Report No. PDET44/05 dated 17 May 2005 by the Director of Planning and Development briefly reviewing Fisheries Development and other Natural Resources projects activity in 2004/05.
In response to Members concerns, assurances were given that the importance of the Aquaculture Development Initiative to the Highland economy had been taken into account, especially the establishment of organic standards. In relation to the latter, it was also pointed out that provision had been made in the budget to support this. The allocation to each initiative had been set to reflect the projects that had already been submitted or were expected. There was, however, flexibility in the budget to swap resources within policy areas if necessary.
The Committee APPROVED:
(a) the proposed allocation of the Fisheries Development Project Budget
during 2005/06; and
(b) the proposed Development Projects Budget for Forestry and Biodiversity
projects during 2005/06, all as detailed in the report.
17. Working for Families Fund
At its meeting held on 28 January 2004, the Planning, Development, Europe and Tourism Committee had agreed, in principle, the Council’s participation in the Scottish Executive’s Working for Families initiative, which would operate for financial years 2004/05 and 2005/06. In this connection, there had been circulated Report No. PDET45/05 dated 17 May 2005 by the Director of Planning and Development updating Members on progress in the first year of this initiative.
Members were reminded that this was a 100% Scottish Executive funded initiative. However, the project launch had been substantially delayed by the Executive and had consequently resulted in an underspend of the first year’s allocation. As a result, the Executive had indicated that it would roll forward such underspends into the current financial year and additional project proposals had been put forward specifically to take up these monies. It was also reported that additional funding had been allocated by the Scottish Executive for a further two years to April 2008 although Highland’s allocation had not yet been stipulated.
In discussion, the proposal for close working with Highland Childcare Partnerships was welcomed. However, reference was made to the outline project plan which had been submitted to the Committee at its meeting on 28 January 2004 and which related to the monies available to area-based childcare. Some groups in Inverness appeared to have experienced difficulties accessing these funds and it was requested that discussions be held to address this. In recognising that, particularly in rural areas, there was a shortage of childcare provision, the rules of the initiative were, however, already being stretched to give advance funding for childcare. The Executive had made it clear that its aim was to be an economic development initiative to get people into employment and not a mechanism to support Child Care Partnerships. The connection between childcare provision and an individual’s ability to take up employment was recognised, but it was important to feed support into childcare in an appropriate manner.
The method used in determining deprivation scores for the project was also explained. There had been close scrutiny by Scottish Ministers of the geography and there had been two targets set: the most serious areas of concentrations of deprivation and, secondly, rural areas. The projects selected had to demonstrate to Scottish Ministers that the criteria had been met. It was recognised that some areas in the Highlands would have consequently been excluded from the initiative, but it was felt that the case for the selected areas had been more compelling. Within the limited funding available, only a selected number of projects could be undertaken and calls were made for the Scottish Executive to increase the allocation.
The Committee AGREED:
(a) to acknowledge the solid achievements of the Working for Families
initiative during the past foundation year, together with the supportive
partnership contribution made by other Council services and external
(b) to approve continued participation in this Scottish Executive project
subject to confirmation of appropriate funding; and
(c) to confirm its willingness in principle to extend the delivery contract with
Highland Opportunity Limited for a further two years on suitable terms.
18. Historic Environment Grants
There had been circulated Report No. PDET46/05 dated 14 April 2005 by the Director of Planning and Development on proposals by Historic Scotland to develop a new Programme of Historic Environment Grants and which summarised the details of the proposed new Scheme.
The difficulties in obtaining grants for small projects having been highlighted,
the Committee otherwise AGREED:
(a) to welcome these proposals; and
(b) to seek to increase the profile of building conservation and enhancement
in the Highlands by accessing the monies now available.
19. COSLA Small Towns Task Force
There had been circulated Report No. PDET47/05 dated 16 May 2005 by the Director of Planning and Development on the COSLA Small Towns Task Force, a COSLA Rural Affairs initiative that sought to make the case for a national review of policy and funding for the regeneration of Scotland’s Small Towns.
It was pointed out that such an initiative would benefit the Highlands enormously. In addition, it was also reported that the Scottish Parliament’s Environment and Rural Development Committee had announced an open call for evidence for its inquiry into rural development, with a particular focus on “accessible rural areas”. The Council had been invited to give evidence on 8 June 2005, at which it would be represented by Mr W J Ross and the Head of Development and Strategy. The Council had already undertaken many initiatives which would assist its case through the Inner Moray Firth Towns Network, as well as individual regeneration projects in Portree, Wick etc.
The Committee AGREED:
(a) to support the COSLA Small Towns Task Force in preparing a submission
(b) to approve the participation of the Head of Development and Strategy
on the Task Force Steering Group; and
(c) to request a progress/feedback report to a future meeting of the
20. Joint Working with Sogn Og Fjordane County Council, Norway
There had been circulated Report No. PDET48/05 dated 18 May 2005 by the Director of Planning and Development on growing contacts between local authorities in the Highlands and Islands and West Norway and recommending that this relationship be strengthened by taking forward a strategic agreement and co-operation on several practical projects.
The strong music links between Lochaber and Norway having also been highlighted, the Committee AGREED to support:
(a) the development of a long-term strategic alliance with partner
authorities in Shetland and West Norway; and
(b) the work required to deliver on specific initiatives relating to
Kinlochleven and to the European Business Game, in concert with other
21. Development of the Interreg Initiative Post-2006
There had been circulated Report No. PDET49/05 dated 11 May 2005 by the Director of Planning and Development on the Council’s involvement in the INTERREG III initiative and detailing the proposals for future transnational activity.
The benefits of Territorial Co-operation were recognised, not only in the aim to win funding from EU programmes, but also in the exchange of information and learning from the experience of others. The European Commission had now produced draft proposals for the new objective for the period 2007-2013, which were generally favourable to the Highlands and Islands, and over the coming months comments would be sought on these.
The Committee AGREED:
(a) to support the Council’s involvement in the European Territorial Co-
(b) to support the issues identified in the report conclusions as appropriate
•the maximisation of the eligible geographical area within the Highlands
and Islands in relation to Strand (a) of the Programme through a
trilateral cross-border programme
•the retention of the Strand (b) programme areas of best use to the
•an expansion of the Northern Periphery Area to include the West of
Ireland and to retain the 10% for extra Programme activities
•the retention of the current geographical areas of Strand (c), but
with a more simplified administration structure and the rejection of
activities being constrained within mainstream Structural Fund
(c) to approve working with other authorities in the Highlands and Islands
to bring about the best possible programme for the area;
(d) to welcome the opportunity to work in partnership with other agencies
involved in shaping the new Programme; and
(e) to agree the participation and attendance of European Officers at
relevant consultation events.
The meeting ended at 1.25 p.m.