Wick and Thurso communities to get unique opportunity to plan their futures

Work on the new Caithness and Sutherland Local Development Plan will begin in early 2013.  As part of this the communities of Wick and Thurso will each have a unique opportunity to shape the future of their community and influence future development decisions in the area. 

The Highland Council will be holding innovative public consultation events known as Charrettes in both Wick and Thurso.  These events will enable local people to put forward their ideas and help design the future development of their towns.  During the events people will be asked to share their views on issues such as where difference types of development should be located, what services and facilities are needed and which areas should be safeguarded from development.  Representatives from local organisations, key agencies and the Highland Council will also be in attendance so that people can discuss their ideas.

The aim of the Charrette events will be to prepare whole-town masterplans which will feed into the first stage of the Caithness and Sutherland Local Development Plan, known as the Main Issues Report.  It is hoped that involving local people in this process will create a joined-up approach to planning and delivering development and regeneration, attract new investment and jobs, and bring benefits to these two towns and the wider Caithness and Sutherland area.

Launch events are being held in January (23rd in Thurso and 24th in Wick) with the actual Charrettes taking place in late February (21st – 27th).  Further details of the events will be widely advertised in the run up to the events.

The Charrettes are taking place with financial assistance from Scottish Government which is being used to employ a group of urban design specialists to facilitate the events. The Scottish Government Minister for Local Government and Planning, Derek Mackay said: “These Charrettes present a tremendously exciting opportunity for everyone who cares about Thurso and Wick to join in creating a vision for the future of the towns.  By funding these Charrettes, the Scottish Government wants to give a chance to everyone in the areas to work together to talk about their priorities and the challenges facing Thurso and Wick and how they can be addressed, and engage in the development of Local Development Plans.”

The consultancy team is led by John Thompson & Partners (JTP). Charles Campion from JTP said: “We are looking forward to working with the local communities in Wick and Thurso and helping in the preparation of the new Local Development Plan. Our role is to make sure that many people and varied interests are involved in the process, and that their views are heard and considered. We will also be illustrating the ideas discussed and drawing up new masterplans for each town.”

The Highland Council has used the Charrette format twice in the past to develop masterplans for major development sites at Sandown, Nairn and the Torvean and Ness-side areas of Inverness.  The Highland Council’s Chairman of the Planning, Environment and Development Committee, Councillor Thomas Prag said: “People were sceptical about the process – but once they had taken part they came away feeling their ideas had been listened to and often appeared in the draft plans in front of their eyes. For Wick and Thurso there is an opportunity to use Charrettes in a new way to help improve the early stages of the plan-making process for whole towns, identifying options for each town, exploring those options and whether there is a degree of consensus. We encourage people to come along and help shape the plans – it’s fun too!”

If you wish to register your interest beforehand or if you have any questions then please email the Highland Council’s Development Plans Team devplans@highland.gov.uk or phone 01463 702827.  You can also follow the Development Plans Team on Twitter @highlanddevplans

21 Dec 2012
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