Local Plan: Main Issues: Employment, Offices, Homeworking, Tourism, Town Centres and Retailing

See below for details of the process and please get back to me with comments by say 20th January - else your concerns may not be raised.  I'll just post here very quick summaries and my comments - do see the original documents for the full version.

Employment land - existing employment land protected for employment purposes (rather than silence in current local plan)
Office development - new specific policy allowing in employment land, existing derelict, despoiled or underused, with encouragement for accessible by public transport, cycling or walking, and a sequential test.
Homeworking - new policy saying it's OK so long as it doesn't interfere with the neighbourhood.
Tourist facilities - new specific policy encouraging if well related to existing settlements or there is a locational requirement.  Resistance to converting tourist accommodation to other uses.
Town Centres and Retailing - retains (but does not strengthen) sequential approach to new retail.  Specifies some sites for bulky comparison outlets.  In Rural HMA allows new retail to support tourism.
Retail in Countryside - new policy allowing farm shops or ancillary to tourist or recreational use.

I'm generally supportive of the direction of this.  I want to encourage more employment in Aberdeenshire and recognise that the fastest growth and maximum employment is usually from small enterprises growing.

I have some concerns that there may be a few loopholes opened.  I find the identification of specific sites for bulky retail odd - the onus should be on the developer to find a site and make the case.  I am wary of the rules for converting tourist accommodation to residential use - it's the weasel word "reasonable".  And "the erection of a farm shop in the countryside does not require planning permission" seems a step too far to me.

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