Nearly a year after councillors submitted it to Scottish Ministers, Aberdeenshire Council has received the results of an examination of its Local Development Plan (LDP).
The examination considered representations to the proposed plan and was carried out by the Government’s Directorate of Planning and Environmental Appeals (DPEA), on behalf of Ministers.
Following examination, the DPEA reporter has now submitted a report to Aberdeenshire Council with conclusions and recommendations on each issue.
This report is largely binding on planning authorities, meaning that they may only depart from the recommendations if there are limited exceptional circumstances.
The examination was mostly conducted by auditing written representations to the proposed plan, but also through 10 formal public hearing sessions.
It focussed on whether the proposed Aberdeenshire Local Plan was “appropriate and sufficient” for the development needs of Aberdeenshire over the next 5-10 years and has taken over 11 months to undertake due to the scale and the complexity of the issues raised.
It considered a total of 161 issues, and concluded no modifications to the plan are warranted in response to over 60% of these, a further 25% of the modifications which have to be made are very minor in nature.
Generally, the remaining issues concern those places where additional sites have been added, or more commonly, deleted from the plan.
The plan clears the way for major, significant and ground breaking local developments such as those for a new settlement at Elsick, near Newtonhill, and visionary proposals for Cromleybank at Ellon.
In a very small number of cases, sites have been removed and substitute sites put in their place within the plan.
One significant area where change has occurred is in Inverurie, where reporters recommended additional land be allocated to the north of the town, with changes to the phasing of the release of land elsewhere.
Major changes in the approach taken to the siting and design of new development, particularly the proportion of open space which should be sought, which were promoted by the council are also supported.
There have also been changes to rules for the provision of affordable housing, also promoted by the council. In all but exceptional circumstances developers will be asked to provide 25% of all houses as affordable.
In responding to the representations, the DPEA has placed significant weight on expressions of support or opposition to the plan and has concluded some elements which generated a large public response, such as the reservation of land at Silverburn Park in Banchory for community facilities, should be overturned.
They have also endorsed the plan on other matters where there was clear public support, such as in Insch where the proposed plan was supported over aspirations for further development.
The full report of the examination will be published on the Aberdeenshire Council website and can be seen on the LDP examination pages. For more information on this, please visit www.aberdeenshire.gov.uk.