Aberdeenshire Council has debated and approved new planning policies for inclusion in its proposed new local development plan (LDP). The policies in the Local Plan had been developed through a lengthy process of public consultation, consideration by Area Committees but were then redrafted to comply with revised Scottish Government planning policy, published in June 2014, and later guidance.
Planning documents used to be weight tomes - an inch or more thick A4 document - and then more documents with details of conservation areas etc.
It looks like the Proposed Local Plan will be about 50 pages long, with another 10 pages showing detail of green belt boundaries and another couple of dozen pages with details of phasing of house allocations and details of conservation area limitations.
It is remarkable how very slim local plans have become.
While concise policy is helpful to everyone, this Local Development Plan departs from the national polices on only two issues:
- a more cautious approach to flood risks and, in response to our very high property prices, and
- a significant requirement for affordable housing contributions from larger developments.
That's great forward planning for flooding and might stop some of the mistakes of the past and we certainly need more affordable housing in the very expensive Aberdeen Housing Market Area.
But I worried that with just these two variants, this local plans isn;t fully reflecting all our local circumstances and priorities.
If this trend to merely echoing national policy continues, then perhaps planning will go the way of police and fire with everything controlled from the centre.
This centralising approach is entirely contrary to Green principles which focus on local responses to local circumstances. Beware!