Aberdeenshire Council has agreed a new Local Development Plan which will soon provide a planning blueprint for the area for everyday use.
The decision follows an examination of objections to the proposed plan carried out by the Scottish Government Directorate of Planning and Environmental Appeals, on behalf of ministers.
The plan sets out ambitious long-term and site-specific visions for the area and will provide a practical framework within which the outcome of planning applications can be decided with a degree of certainty and efficiency.
Approval by the full council follows four years of work, involving extensive consultation with councillors and communities, far more than any previous development plan for the area.
At a recent meeting of Aberdeenshire Council, councillors debated a range of issues in detail, particularly focusing on their disappointment in the process, given that the Scottish Government Reporter was able to make changes to the plan counter to the views of local people.
Following the national examination, Scottish Government Reporters asked for changes to the plan. The changes, for which there is little or no opportunity for the council or communities to challenge, have to be made before the plan can be formally adopted.
The council’s Director of Infrastructure Services, Stephen Archer, told councillors: “We are able to present a plan which we think as a whole reflects the aspirations of members and the communities you represent.
“However that does not mean to say that it is a perfect plan, and it is deeply unfortunate that in some cases that imperfection has been introduced by the examination process itself.
“It remains the case that at examination a select number of Reporters from the Directorate of Planning and Environmental Appeals can impose their view over the considered view of the council, with little or no opportunity to challenge such a position.”