Nearly a year after councillors submitted it to Scottish ministers, Aberdeenshire Council is hopeful the results of an examination of its Local Development Plan will be received in coming weeks.
This represents a significant milestone, and the start of the final phase of the adoption of the plan.
The conclusion of the examination of the proposed plan is taking longer than the six months anticipated when it was submitted in March last year. This is thought to be mainly due to the complexities of the issues in the area and the demand for alternate development land.
The examination is looking at objections to the proposed plan and is being carried out by the government’s Directorate of Planning and Environmental Appeals, on behalf of ministers. It should be the last phase in the preparation of the planning blueprint before its adoption for everyday use.
Following examination, the reporter will submit 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 exceptional circumstances. The proposed plan was drawn up after two years of extensive consultation and engagement with communities, landowners and developers. It is a blueprint for the future development of the area and sets out ambitious long-term and site-specific visions.
It will provide a practical framework within which the outcome of planning applications can be decided with a degree of certainty and efficiency. Getting to this stage has taken more than four years and is the culmination of hard work by the council’s development plan team.
Chairman of Aberdeenshire Council’s Infrastructure Services Committee (ISC) Peter Argyle, said: “Given the geographical size and demographic spread of Aberdeenshire, the examination has had to consider a large number of complex issues and competing demands. We do now expect to receive the reporter’s report on the examination in March, though I have to emphasise this is totally outwith our control. We would hope to seek approval for the notice of intention to adopt the plan at the last full council meeting on April 26 ahead of the elections in May.”