Views sought on ­­Highland Planning Policies through new consultation portal

The Highland Council has today launched three online consultations on planning and housing issues across the area, including a review of its main planning policy document the Highland-wide Local Development Plan. 

The Highland-wide Local Development Plan Main Issues Report seeks people’s views on updating the Highland Council’s main policies for determining planning applications and shaping the future of the Highland area. The Main Issues Report, which was published today for a 12 week public consultation running until 18th December, sets out issues and options for updating a broad range of planning policies, and an updated vision and spatial strategy for Highland. The strategy includes focussing development on existing settlements, support rural businesses and communities, and an emphasis on design and transport issues.  The document is structured around four key outcomes that show how the plan could help deliver community planning priorities.

At the same time the Council is seeking views on two other documents, the draft Onshore Wind Energy Supplementary Guidance and the Local Housing Strategy.  The draft Onshore Wind Energy Supplementary Guidance sets out suggested criteria for assessing proposals for wind energy development.  This draft follows consultation carried out in spring 2015 on the issues for review of our current guidance, such as impact on communities, natural heritage and cumulative impacts.  The Highland Housing Strategy will inform how the Highland Council and others tackle housing issues across different sectors, and how and where to direct investment in housing and related services.

The public consultation on these documents runs from 25 September to 18 December 2015.  The three documents are being published through a new consultation portal which the Council has launched to make it easy to read and comment on planning consultation documents.  Users simply need to create an account which can be used for these and any future consultations on the Council’s development plans.

As part of the consultation a series of public events are being held across Highland to raise awareness and give people a chance to discuss any issues with staff.  Each event listed below includes a drop-in session between 2pm and 5.30pm, followed by a roundtable discussion workshop which starts at 6.30pm.

KINLOCHBERVIE - Tue 3 Nov 2015

2pm-5.30pm & 6.30pm - Village Hall, Manse Road, IV27 4RG

INVERNESS - Mon 9 Nov 2015

2pm-5.30pm & 6.30pm - Town House, Bridge Street, IV1 1JJ

DINGWALL - Wed 11 Nov 2015

2pm-5.30pm - Town Hall, Church Street, IV15 9SB

6.30pm - Council Offices, Council Chamber, High Street, IV15 9QN

Speaking at the launch of the consultations Councillor Audrey Sinclair, Chair of the Planning, Development and Infrastructure Committee, said: “The Main Issues Report is a really important stage in updating our planning policies in Highland and setting a strong framework for growth. It paves the way for the provision of 20,000 new homes over the next 20 years, many of which will be affordable. We need to continue to direct the majority of growth towards our larger towns and villages, with vibrant and healthy town centres, but we also recognise how rural and fragile areas need to be supported. The Main Issues Report also looks at ways to reduce our carbon footprint, for example by exploring opportunities for renewable heat energy, and designing new development to make it easier to travel on foot or by bike.”

“These three consultations provide a real chance for people to have their say on the planning policies and housing issues that will affect our future in some way or another – our neighbourhood, our town centre and the natural environment around us. I would urge anyone with an interest in the future of their community and the Highlands to get involved in all the consultations.”

19 Oct 2015