Members of The Highland Council’s Planning Environment and Development Committee have the opportunity to discuss progress of the Highland Wide Local Development Plan at their meeting on Wednesday (12 August) before the draft document goes out to public consultation on 31 August for 10 weeks.
The Plan sets out the strategy, policy and vision for the Highlands over the next 10-20 years and will provide clear policy guidance for all types of development and highlight key action areas including the A96 Corridor.
The consultation period for the first stage of preparing the Highland Wide Local Development Plan is longer than originally planned to allow more time for the community to have their say on how Inverness, towns, villages and the countryside should develop.
Information days will be held in a number of locations throughout the Highlands and planners will be giving presentations at a number of Ward Forums. The Main Issues Report, which starts the debate, will be available to view at all Council libraries, Service Points, planning offices and via the home page of the Council’s web site: www.highland.gov.uk.
The Council was chosen by the Scottish Government as one of the pilot authorities to deliver a new local development plan based on partnership working with Scottish Environment Protection Agency, Scottish Natural Heritage, Scottish Water and Transport Scotland.
The plan will update and replace parts of the Highland Structure Plan as well as parts of existing Local Plans which cover strategic policy issues. It will also set the context for the three Local Development Plans which will follow – one for the Inner Moray Firth area, one for the Caithness and Sutherland area and one for the West Highland and Islands area.
Councillor Ian Ross, Chairman of Planning Environment and Development, said: “The Plan is a crucial piece of work as it will help us with the delivery of community and economic development for the area while at the same time making sure that the quality of the built environment in the Highlands matches that of the natural environment. It will provide communities and developers with greater clarity and create a simpler, quicker and more transparent planning process. Another big benefit is that it will deliver efficiencies through partnership working and create a much better understanding and working relationship between the public and private sectors.
“The public as well as local communities, potential investors and developers have a very important role in the whole process and we encourage people to get involved and feed back their comments.”
The Highland Council is one of the first Local Authorities in Scotland to produce a Main Issues report and is at the forefront of modernising the planning system.
The outcomes of the consultation will be used to inform and shape the next stage of the process, which is the publication of the Proposed Plan, which will be produced by the end of the year. It will then be examined by Scottish Ministers in 2010.
In order to make sure that views across a whole range of development issues are taken on board, the consultation period will also include the Council seeking views on a number of other important documents. These are the draft Local Transport Strategy, the draft Coastal Development Strategy and the initial stage of the Local Housing Strategy.