Minutes of Meeting of the Planning, Environment and Development Committee held in the Council Chamber, Council Headquarters, Glenurquhart Road, Inverness on Wednesday, 18 January 2012 at 10.30am.
Mr I Ross, Mrs I McCallum, Mr G Farlow, Mr D MacKay, Mr R Coghill, Mr W MacKay, Mrs I Campbell, Mr R Durham, Dr A Sinclair, Mr C Fraser, Mr B Clark, Mr P Cairns, Mr D Chisholm, Mrs H Carmichael, Mr D Henderson, Mr I Brown, Mr J Gray, Mr A S Park, Mrs C Caddick, Mr J Crawford, Mr T Prag, Mr D Fallows, Mr G Rimell, Dr M E M Foxley
Non-Members also present:
Mrs D MacKay, Dr D Alston, Mrs M Davidson, Mr D Hendry, Mr D Kerr, Mrs L MacDonald, Mr G Marsden, Mrs J Douglas, Mrs F Robertson
Officials in attendance:
Mr S Black, Director of Planning and Development
Mr M MacLeod, Head of Planning and Building Standards
Mr G Robson, Head of Environment and Development
Mr A McCann, Economy and Regeneration Manager
Ms S Lunn, Business Support Manager
Ms A Hackett, Principal Projects Officer
Mr A Webster, Regeneration Adviser
Mr B MacKinnon, Employability Team Leader
Mr T Stott, Principal Planner
Mr D Cowie, Principal Planner
Mr S Hindson, Planner
Mr G Campbell, Building Standards Manager
Ms M Peter, Business Gateway Officer
Ms K Bennett, Conservation Architect
Ms B Robinson, Project Officer (CARS)
Ms N Wallace, LEADER + Development Manager - Heritage
Ms M Forsyth, More Choices, More Chances Lead, Education, Culture & Sport
Ms L Lee, Committee Administrator
Mrs C Maragh, Administrative Assistant
Miss J Green, Clerical Assistant
Also in attendance:
Mr S Davidson, Youth Convener
Ms M Mackintosh, Chief Executive of Highland Opportunity Ltd
Mr W J Ross in the Chair
i. Scottish Government Announcement of Scottish Enterprise Zones
The Committee NOTED that the Scottish Government had designated Scrabster, Nigg and Inverness Campus as three of Scotland’s 14 Enterprise Areas. Support mechanisms and site boundaries had yet to be determined but the Council would contribute to this work and reports would be brought to future meetings.
ii. European Fisheries Fund (EFF) Axis 4
The Committee NOTED that the Council had been awarded £412,000 of EU Funding for the delivery of Axis 4 projects. The award would attract Match Funding, bringing the total amount available to around £549,000. The projects would be delivered in 2012/13. The Planning and Development Service would play a key role, working with the Highland Fisheries Local Action Group which was being established for that purpose.
2. Apologies for Absence
There were no apologies for absence.
3. Declarations of Interest
The Committee NOTED the following declarations of interest:
Item 7 – Mr I Ross, Mr I Brown, Mrs H Carmichael, Mr D Henderson, Mr D Hendry, Mr J Gray, Mrs I McCallum (all Non-Financial)
Item 8 – Mrs J Douglas (Non-Financial)
Item 17 - Mr G Farlow (Non-Financial), Member of Sutherland LEADER Local Application Panel
Item 10 – Mrs L MacDonald (Financial)
Item 12 – Mr G Fallows, Mrs J Douglas, Mr G Rimell – (all with a Dispensation)
Item 18 - Mrs I McCallum (Non-Financial)
4. Revenue Monitoring Statement to end November 2011 & Review of Charges 2012/13
There had been circulated Report No. PED-1-12 (93kb pdf) dated 6 January 2012 by the Director of Planning and Development which commented on the Revenue Monitoring Statement for the period to the end of November 2011. An over-spend at the year-end of £0.577m was predicted, primarily caused by lower than budgeted fee income. The report recommended that a request be submitted to the Resources Committee for a supplementary budget estimate for this sum. The report also reviewed charges for services for 2012/13.
The Business Support Manager drew attention to the main points of the report and advised that figures to the end of December 2011 showed an increase of £28,000 in fee income compared with the same period in 2010. However, as an income gap of around £730,000 was anticipated for the year-end, the supplementary budget request would not be amended. Total budget pressures amounted to £1.08m, and included expenditure on Public Local Inquiries, which was estimated to come in at £225,000 over budget by the year end. Estimated compensatory savings/delays in expenditure in 2011/12 amounted to £503,000.
The proposed increases in charges for 2012/13 were in line with Highland Council guidance. Planning and Building Warrant fee levels were set by the Scottish Government, and could not be altered by the Council.
In discussion, Members commended the efforts made to bring the budget in on target, but questioned whether the Planning and Development (P&D) budget should include fee income. The current budget structure meant that the Service took a disproportionate hit in a recession – it would be fairer if this were spread across the Council. In response, the Director advised that this matter had been discussed in September 2009 and the Committee at that time had taken a clear view that the current arrangements should continue. The shortfall would have to be met from somewhere in the Council and financial advice was to keep income close to where the service was provided.
In response to points raised, Members were advised that the Director would investigate using previous years’ costs of Public Local Inquiries as the basis for budget estimates under this heading for future years, the use of specific financial terminology within future reports would be avoided where possible and the regular Quarterly Performance Report would be brought to the March Committee – the Director gave an assurance meantime that performance continued to improve.
The Committee NOTED the monitoring report to the end of November 2011 and the information given and AGREED:
i. the management action which had been taken to date to reduce the
projected over-spend against budget to £0.577m at the year-end;
ii. to submit a request to the Resources Committee for a supplementary
budget estimate of £0.577m to balance the Planning and Development
Revenue Budget for 2011/12;
iii. the updated charges for services in 2012/13 as outlined in section 6.1 and
Appendix 2; and
iv. that the question of whether fee income should be included within the
P&D budget should be for the next Council to consider.
5. Monitoring of Capital Expenditure to 30 November 2011
There had been circulated for noting Report No. Ped2/12 dated 21 December 2011 by the Director of Planning and Development which outlined the expenditure and income to 30 November 2011 and for the 2011/12 capital programme.
The Principal Projects Officer drew attention to the main points of the report. The position remained largely unchanged from November. £439,000 slippage was anticipated but the majority of budget spend would be achieved in the later part of this financial year.
The Regeneration Advisor confirmed that the portfolio of substitute VDLF projects put forward by the Committee in November 2011 had now been approved by Scottish Government Ministers. Authority had been delegated at an earlier Committee to the Chairman and the Director to vary budget allocation to projects if required due to changed circumstances. Members would be kept fully informed.
Details had not yet been released as to the allocation for VDLF funding in 2012/13, although it had been announced that £8.146m across Scotland would be available. Funding was not guaranteed, but there was optimism that a bid would be successful given the Council’s good track record in delivering projects.
With Site B at the Longman, Inverness, studies had shown that further VDLF significant spend in 2011/12 was not required. Discussions with Transport Scotland regarding the Longman roundabout were ongoing and the findings of Phase 2 site investigations for the Longman were anticipated. The outcomes of these would inform a future master plan and development brief and whether further VDLF investment for the Longman was required. The Longman was a high priority project and the Scottish Government was aware of it.
In discussion, Members thanked officers for their hard work in progressing the project at the former community centre in Nairn and the Scottish Government for its support. Members expressed disappointment however at the Co-operative Group’s lack of response with regard to proposals to purchase, through the VDLF programme, its former filling station site. The Chairman urged the Co-op to talk to officers about any counter proposals it might be considering for the Nairn site.
Responses to queries regarding specific projects would be provided to individual Members outwith the meeting.
An assurance having been given that all recommendations made by the Internal Audit of VDLF projects were being addressed, the Committee NOTED the report and that Members would be kept fully informed as to progress with the Longman Inverness site, including any future VDLF requirements, with reports being brought to future meetings.
6. Planning and Development Service Capital Programme
There had been circulated Report No. PED-3-12 (67kb pdf) dated 21 December 2011 by the Director of Planning and Development which proposed specific capital projects for 2012/13 and draft projects for subsequent years of the Capital Programme to 2016/17. Projects had been identified on the basis of the five key themes agreed by the Committee in August 2011, and discussions would now be held locally with Wards and communities. Later years of the plan had been left flexible.
In response to points raised, Members were advised that early discussions would be held with a view to identifying future projects in Badenoch and Strathspey, and the report would be amended to reflect more accurately the locations of Kyle and Raasay.
In discussion, the Youth Convener requested that the Council investigate ways to engage with young people regarding projects affecting their towns and villages.
The Committee AGREED:
i. the allocation of capital and scope of projects as presented in the report;
ii. flexibility of expenditure in accordance with paragraph 2.3 of the report,
subject to scrutiny through the usual Committee Capital Monitoring
reporting process; and
iii. that a meeting be arranged between representatives of the Youth Forum
and the Director to discuss how best to engage further with young people
to ensure they were better informed and able to input to development
projects in their localities.
The Committee NOTED that further reports would be brought to the Committee as and when capital projects were identified in the later years of the Plan.
7. Business Gateway
Declarations of Interest:
Mr I Ross, Mrs I McCallum, Mr I Brown, Mrs H Carmichael, Mr D Henderson, Mr D Hendry and Mr J Gray, as Directors of Highland Opportunity Limited, declared non-financial interests in relation to this item but, having applied the test outlined in Paragraphs 5.2 and 5.3 of the Councillors’ Code of Conduct, concluded that their interests did not preclude their involvement in the discussion.
There had been circulated Report No PED-4-12 (55kb pdf) dated 9 January 2012 by the Director of Planning and Development which updated Members on the third quarter and cumulative performance of the Business Gateway contract with Highland Opportunity Ltd (HOL) for the financial year 2011/12 and the proposal for the Business Gateway service delivery post 1 April 2012.
Progress against targets appeared mixed but the position improved once background information was taken into consideration. Rural areas were performing less well than urban. Overall, it was hoped to equal the previous year’s performance levels.
A revised Highland and Moray Business Gateway contract specification for the period 2012/13 to 2014/15 had been drafted. It had been informed by operational experience from the current 3 year contract and feedback from stakeholders, and aligned with the national service specification.
Members commented positively on the contract between Business Gateway and Highland Opportunity Ltd, and partnership working with Moray Council, and congratulated HOL on the 130 jobs created/sustained. Figures were as yet not available as to levels of business start-up activity following the Committee’s decision to reallocate start-up funding to later stages of business growth. However, it was hoped that the overall outcome would prove positive.
The Committee NOTED performance for the operating year up to the end of November 2011 and AGREED the proposal for the delivery of the Business Gateway service from 1 April 2012 to 31 March 2015 as set out in the report, with details of the negotiated contract with Highland Opportunity Ltd being reported to the Committee in March.
8. Employability Service Update
Declaration of Interest:
Mrs J Douglas, as a Director of High Life Highland, declared a non-financial interest in relation to this item but, having applied the test outlined in Paragraphs 5.2 and 5.3 of the Councillors’ Code of Conduct, concluded that her interest did not preclude her involvement in the discussion.
There had been circulated Report No PED-5-12 (106kb pdf) dated 9 January 2012 by the Director of Planning and Development which provided an update on the work of the Employability Service and outlined an Action Plan to deliver on the Council’s commitment to Youth Employment.
The Economy and Regeneration Manager drew attention to the main points contained in the report, including progress with the Council’s commissioning of out-sourced pre-employment services alongside the re-commissioning of the National Training Programmes by Skills Development Scotland, and the Action Plan developed to support youth employment. It was estimated that cross-Service investment of £3m by the Planning and Development Service, with ESF support, would lead to around 400 jobs.
Members from all parties strongly supported the work being undertaken by the Employability Team and stressed the importance of youth employment and work experience.
There was in-depth discussion relating to work placements and careers education.
Members were given assurances that effective procedures were in place with regard to children not in school and placement monitoring, and that young people were given opportunities through Skills for Work, college programmes, careers events and work placements to consider many kinds of careers. Whilst it was acknowledged that bureaucracy could be off-putting for employers offering work placements, health and safety requirements had to be met. Current lower levels of business activity also impacted on employers’ ability to offer work placements. Employers were approached not just by schools but by a range of providers requesting work experience. A suggestion made with regard to exploring how young people could sit on Boards of public agencies would be investigated.
In response to Member questions as to further actions the Council could take to support youth employment, the Economy and Regeneration Manager suggested that once the current programmes were up and running, there were likely to be opportunities to build on the back of these programmes.
The Committee AGREED to redirect the £36,000 already approved to Education, Culture and Sport for Activity Agreements, to support the piloting of changes to the school curriculum so that all young people staying on were able to gain skills for life and work and NOTED:
i. the actions proposed to deliver on the Council’s Six Point Commitment to
Youth Employment; and
ii. that a report would be brought to the March meeting on progress with the
out-sourcing of pre-employment services and the National Training
Programme retendering exercise, and any transitional impact on clients.
9. Highland-wide Local Development Plan – Report of Examination and Approval of Procedures to Adoption
There had been circulated Report No. PED-6-12 (53kb pdf) dated 5 January 2012 by the Director of Planning and Development which advised that the Report of Examination for the Highland-wide Local Development Plan had now been received from the Directorate of Planning and Environmental Appeals. The Committee was now required to consider the Reporters’ recommendations, which were essentially binding upon the Council. The Local Development Plan would then be modified in line with the recommendations, necessary consequential modifications and non-material corrections to progress the Plan towards adoption. Members were asked to agree the changes necessary to enable the modified Plan to be adopted at the meeting of the Highland Council on 5 April 2012.
The Chairman commended the Plan which had been very largely supported by Scottish Government Reporters and was the first in Scotland to reach this stage. The contribution of the public, stakeholders and the Committee, and the hard work of the Development Plans Team was appreciated. Members echoed the Chairman’s views and thanked the Development Plans Team for their work, and for having listened to the public.
The Head of Planning and Building Standards summarised the position with regard to the Plan’s progress. Once the Plan had been approved by the Council, all future planning decisions would be based on it.
Following concerns raised regarding the Reporter’s concluding comments on the matter of calls by some parties for a veto on wind farm proposals in certain circumstances, the Chairman gave an assurance that the Council would listen to individuals and communities, but Members were required to focus on material issues when determining such applications.
The Committee AGREED:
i. that the Reporters’ recommendations be followed;
ii. that officers should progress the necessary consequential modifications and
*iii. to the carrying out of the statutory processes required to progress the
Plan so modified towards adoption, including report to the full Council on 5
April 2012; and
iii. that the Plan as modified be a material consideration for development
management purposes with immediate effect pending its adoption by Full
10. Inner Moray Firth Local Development Plan – Approval of Main Issues Report and Draft for Consultation
Declaration of Interest
Having a business interest related to this item, Mrs L MacDonald declared a financial interest and left the Chamber for the duration of this item.
There had been circulated Report No. PED-7-12 (76kb pdf) dated 10 January 2012 by the Director of Planning and Development which set out the content of the first, statutory draft of the Inner Moray Firth Local Development Plan - the Main Issues Report. The Draft Plan formed Appendix 1(1) (1643kb pdf)|Appendix 1(2) (2293kb pdf) to the report. It would be made clearer and more user-friendly prior to publication.
The Principal Planner drew attention to the Draft Plan’s fit within the Council’s Development Plan scheme and the process by which sites had been chosen. The Plan presented a number of alternatives for people to compare and contrast. Specific land uses had been proposed for the 37 main towns and villages in the area, and a set of generic criteria would be drawn up for assessing planning applications in smaller settlements.
In discussion, Members commented on the importance of the Inner Moray Firth to the economy of the Highlands, and the need to ensure the public was aware of and engaged in the preparation of the Plan.
In response to questions, Members were informed that guidance would be provided to all Members as to whether contributing to the Draft Plan could impact on their ability to later determine planning applications, use would be made of social media sites; the text of the Draft Plan would specify what was meant by “mixed use” in each location and neighbour notifications would require to be issued for any new sites identified. Building on experience gained during the Highland-wide Local Development Plan (HWLDP) process, it was intended to engage actively with people, rather than give talks, and to issue the results of the consultation as soon as possible.
In addition to the recommendations set out in the report, the Principal Planner sought the Committee’s agreement to a further recommendation as set out at (i) below, to allow updating of the Draft Plan prior to issuing for consultation.
Members having thanked the Principal Planner and his team for their hard work, the Committee AGREED that:
i. authority be delegated to the Director of Planning and Development, in
consultation with the Chair and Vice-Chair, to update the Draft Plan prior to
its issue for consultation, to incorporate Member comment, correct factual
errors, and to align the document with the updated HWLDP; and
ii. a list of the changes be made available on the Web as soon as they had
been agreed by the Director, the Chair and the Vice-Chair.
The Committee APPROVED Appendix 1 as the material content of the Inner Moray Firth Local Development Plan: Main Issues Report subject to any amendments made under (i) above, and NOTED:
i. the proposed consultation arrangements as outlined in the report and at
ii. that a report would be brought to the Committee in Autumn 2012 following
public consultation; and
iii. that advice would be sought and guidance provided to all Members as to
whether contributing to the Draft Plan could impact on their ability to later
determine planning applications.
11. Letter from Chief Planner – Occupancy Restrictions and Rural Housing
There had been circulated Report No. PED-8-12 (1309kb pdf) dated 5 January 2012 by the Director of Planning and Development which considered a letter dated 4 November 2011received by all Scottish Planning Authorities from the Chief Planner. In general terms, the letter discouraged the use of occupancy conditions in the delivery of housing in rural areas, except where there was a sound case for a more restrictive approach. The letter comprised “planning advice”, - it was for the Council to decide whether or not to implement the recommendations.
The report proposed two options: in essence, either to retain the Council’s current practice (Option 1) or to dispense with legal agreements relating to housing in the countryside (Option 2). The Head of Planning and Building Standards explained the two options in detail and responded to questions.
Following discussion, the Committee NOTED the letter from the Chief Planner; and AGREED the status quo as set out in Option 1 in the report whilst recognising the need to be sensitive to requests for variation of legal agreements should circumstances change over time.
12. Onshore Wind Energy – Outcome of Consultation
Declarations of Interest
Mr D Fallows, Mrs J Douglas and Mr G Rimell declared financial interests in this item as Board Members of the Cairngorms National Park Authority but, in terms of their dispensations granted by the Standards Commission, remained to participate in the discussion.
There had been circulated Report No. PED-9-12 (226kb pdf) dated 10 January 2012 by the Director of Planning and Development comprising an interim report on the results of consultation on the Council’s draft Onshore Wind Energy Supplementary Guidance. It identified key issues raised in consultation responses and outlined a number of key areas of work that officers were engaged in, responding to issues raised and, where appropriate, drafting revisions to the Guidance. The full recommended response to issues and revised Guidance would be brought to the Committee on 14 March 2012 for consideration, prior to further consultation.
The Principal Planner gave a presentation (359kb pdf) drawing Members’ attention to a number of work areas including categorisation of wind energy development by scale, changes to the spatial framework required in light of revisions to the Government methodology which had removed Stage 3, addition of overarching policies whilst avoiding a sequential approach which would be contrary to national policy, ongoing work on landscape and visual considerations, ongoing work of Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) with regard to its preparation of a Wild Lands document, and distances of wind farms from residential property. The aim was to ensure that the Council’s Supplementary Guidance was robust.
Points raised in discussion included: -
- this was a complex area - clarity was very important; this would help reduce challenge to decisions/appeal costs
- wind farms should be sited correctly, be proportionate and appropriate
- the Council must not allow its Policy to be weakened by Scottish Government advice/guidance
- there was a need for information as to what would happen to land identified as Type 3 (under Stage 3 of the methodology) once this criteria was removed from the Policy
- liaison with Cairngorms National Park officers was important with regard to setting and lands originally identified as Type 3
- wild land was very precious and could not be replaced
- support for the comments at 3.7.2 regarding the avoidance of “significant long-term detrimental impacts”
- fire risk should be taken into account, particularly with regard to proximity of turbines to forestry or pea
- more work was needed on the potential impact of development on communities and dwellings, particularly in relation to cumulative impact, including noise
- Scottish Government stipulations had to be woven into the Council’s policy, whether Members liked this or not.
The Principal Planner gave assurances that officers would continue to liaise with the Cairngorms National Park Authority in relation to setting and Type 3 areas, and that cumulative issues, including noise were taken into consideration in relation to proximity of settlements; further work was being undertaken on those matters. Any incidents of turbines causing fire would be subject of any necessary investigation by relevant bodies and may inform national guidance and standards on issues, but was itself outwith planning remit.
The Committee AGREED that:
i. the above comments be taken into consideration by officers in preparing a
further report for Committee consideration at its meeting in March 2012;
ii. the March report provide the full summary of issues raised, recommended
responses to issues and revised Supplementary Guidance, together with the
intended arrangements for and timing of public consultation on the revised
Guidance and associated Environmental Report; and
iii. SNH be requested to consult with the Council on its Wild Lands document.
13. Inverness City Centre Development Brief
There had been circulated Report No. PED-10-12 (2238kb pdf) dated 4 January 2012 by the Director of Planning and Development outlining the content of the draft City Centre Development Brief, which had been prepared to help support the Inverness City Vision. The Brief did this by identifying and promoting development and environmental enhancement opportunities within the City Centre.
The Brief included both long and short-term aspirations and it was hoped would be supported by the business community. The Brief had been well received by the Inverness City Committee at its meeting on 5 December 2011 and comments made had been incorporated into the document. Briefs for other areas of the City would be brought to this and the Inverness City Committee in due course.
Inverness Members spoke in support of the Brief. In discussion, suggestions were made, including the need for more car parking and to avoid siting car parking in hilly locations, that Farraline Park should be a traffic free green park, that the flood scheme should be given higher priority, and the need for an indoor tourist centre, perhaps utilising the Town House. The Chairman emphasised the importance of encouraging people to provide feedback on the Brief.
In response, the Head of Planning and Building Standards stated that the Planning and Development Service was working with other Council Services in relation to building use and the flood prevention scheme.
The Committee AGREED:
i. the contents of the draft City Centre Development Brief;
ii. that the draft City Centre Development Brief be made available to public
iii. that wording be included in the opening paragraphs of the document
encouraging public comment.
The Committee NOTED that further reports would be brought to this and the Inverness City Committee, including briefings on various aspects of the Brief, and progress with the flood prevention scheme.
14. Sandown Development Brief
There had been circulated Report No. PED-11-12 (39kb pdf) dated 6 January 2012 by the Director of Planning and Development detailing proposals to prepare a Development Brief for the Sandown site in Nairn. The preparation of the Brief would involve a new approach to community involvement for the Council through the use of “Charrette” processes. The Scottish Government was supporting the Council in this exercise. It was hoped a local consensus on the number of houses and the mix of development for Sandown would be established.
Nairn Members thanked the Service and the Scottish Government for the support both had given to Nairn, and in particular welcomed that the Charrette would be chaired by the Chief Planner. They expressed views supporting the inclusion of affordable and social/council housing in the Brief, and for development to take place on a phased basis. The Charrette was generating noticeable local interest.
The Committee AGREED:
i. the arrangements for the Charrette to prepare the Sandown Development
ii. that the outcomes of the Development Brief be reported to the Committee
at its meeting on 14 March 2012.
15. Changes to the General Permitted Development Order in relation to Designated Conservation Areas
There had been circulated Report No. PED-12-12 (92kb pdf) dated 20 December 2011 by the Director of Planning and Development which updated Members on changes to the General Permitted Development Order (GPDO) insofar as they related to residential properties in designated conservation areas. The report recommended the removal of all existing Article 4 Directions.
The Conservation Officer having explained the change to the legislation and the consequences of this for planning in conservation areas, the Committee NOTED the changes to GPDO in relation to planning controls in Conservation Areas; and APPROVED the formal withdrawal of existing Article 4 Directions as detailed in Appendix 3 to the report.
16. Wick, Pulteneytown Conservation Area Regeneration Scheme
There had been circulated Report No. PED-13-12 (33kb pdf)|Presentation (544kb pdf) dated 10 January 2012 by the Director of Planning and Development which sought approval for one large grant and one small grant under the Wick, Pulteneytown Conservation Area Regeneration Scheme (CARS).
Caithness Members having welcomed the improvements being made through CARS funding and thanked the CARS Project Officer for her hard work, the Committee APPROVED:
i. a large CARS grant in the sum of £369,940.39 to the Highland Housing
Alliance for the Harbour Quay project;
ii. a small CARS grant of £1,590 for 62 Argyle Square;
and AGREED that the Council submit a CARS grant application to Historic Scotland for the award of £115,055.55 for works and fees for the Harbour Quay project (14 Telford Street).
17. Highland LEADER Programme 2007-13
There had been circulated Report No. PED-14-12 (65kb pdf) dated 20 December 2011 by the Director of Planning and Development updating Members on progress with the delivery of the Highland LEADER Programme, including actions arising from the Highland LEADER Internal Audit Report (November 2011) and the findings of a recent Monitoring Visit from the Scottish Government. In this latter regard, Members were given assurances that the majority of the Service Level Agreement with the Scottish Government was adhered to, and that Administrative and audit challenges had been addressed.
The LEADER Programme Manager drew attention to the main points of the report, including that LEADER was worth around £16m to community groups in Highland, which, with match funding amounted to around £30m. This had supported to date around 330 local projects and was particularly important in the current economic circumstances. Members greatly valued the projects enabled by LEADER. The projects had brought communities together, but given the administrative complexities integral to this programme, support was needed both when submitting applications and when claiming grant.
The Economy and Regeneration Manager reported that the EU considered that the LEADER programme across Europe had been a successful approach in involving and engaging communities. There was optimism that the LEADER approach and funding would continue in the new EU Programmes post 2013.
The Committee NOTED:
i. progress with the delivery of the Highland LEADER Programme; and
ii. the findings of the November 2011 Internal Audit Report and the August
2011 Scottish Government Monitoring Visit, the actions undertaken and the
proposed actions to address outstanding issues.
18. Highland Birchwoods – Annual Report and Accounts
Declarations of Interest
Mrs I McCallum, as a Trustee of Highland Birchwoods, declared a non-financial interest in relation to this item but, having applied the test outlined in Paragraphs 5.2 and 5.3 of the Councillors’ Code of Conduct, concluded that her interest did not preclude her involvement in the discussion.
There had been circulated Report No. PED-15-12 (1455kb pdf) dated 16 December 2011 by the Director of Planning and Development which introduced the “Report of the Trustees and Financial Statements for Highland Birchwoods for the financial year to 28 February 2011”. It briefly summarised the organisation’s aims and objectives, the review of the past year’s activity and planned future developments. The Council’s relationship with Highland Birchwoods was also briefly considered alongside developing projects.
The Committee NOTED:
i. the Financial Statements of Highland Birchwoods to 28 February 2011 and
the organisation’s proposals for the year ahead; and
ii. the joint project work undertaken to date and the potential future project.
19. Highland Buildings Preservation Trust
There had been circulated Report No. PED-16-12 (279kb pdf) dated 8 December 2011 by the Director of Planning and Development which provided a summary of The Highland Buildings Preservation Trust (HBPT) activities and unaudited financial statements for their financial year, which ended on 31 December 2010.
The Committee NOTED the performance of the HBPT in 2010.
20. Highland Economic Forum – Minutes of Meeting of 22 November 2011
The Committee NOTED Minutes of Meeting of the Highland Economic Forum held on 22 November 2011 (60kb pdf).
There were circulated separately and NOTED Minutes of the Planning Applications Committees for:-
i. Ross, Skye and Lochaber, 4 October 2011;
ii. Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross, 25 October 2011;
iii. Ross, Skye and Lochaber, 1 November 2011;
iv. Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey, 1 November 2011;
v. Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey, 8 November 2011;
vi. Ross, Skye and Lochaber, 15 November 2011;
vii. Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross, 13 December 2011;
viii. Ross, Skye and Lochaber, 13 December 2011; and
ix. Ross, Skye and Lochaber, 20 December 2011.
The meeting ended at 2.45 p.m.