A surprising amount of consensus broke out at the Formartine Area Committee meeting today on planning matters.
Brewdog - a Fraserburgh-based brewery wanting to expand on a site near Potterton gained support despite the site's Greenbelt status - see Paul Johnston's blog for details. It'll be interesting to see what Full Council makes of this next week, especially as the details will be new to the vast majority as only 16 councillors (out of 68) were at the pre-determination hearing.
But we came dangerously close to approving significant internal modifications to the A-listed Barra Castle near Oldmeldrum despite very strong opposition from Historic Scotland. Some councillors started from a position that changes didn't matter if they were not seen. However, second thoughts prevailed and we stepped back from a careless grant.
I do however worry about the scrutiny of some things. We had in front of us proposals for some £2m a year worth of council house upgrades but with policy set by the central Social Work and Housing Committee but Area's approving the spends, there may be some lack of control. Part of the problem as usual is that Council are required to jump through a standard set by central government even if they could perhaps do better for their tenants by other means.
The priorities are supposed to have Energy Efficiency Improvements as a priority but apart from good progress towards the Scottish Quality Standards, there was scant detail on the actual quality of what was being proposed. The route to addressing fuel proverty is not necessarily new heating systems but to minimise the heating needed through better insulation. Hopefully officers will come back to me with details of the standards for the work (e.g. the U-values aimed for in the door and window replacements) and what other energy efficiency measures are in the plan .... But I fear that the focus is to deliver a set standard.
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