Cairngorms National Park

Uath Lochans from Farleitter Crag, Kingussie

Park Talk – Call for Sites

11th January 2017

By Peter Argyle, CNPA Convener

The Planning process is often seen as unduly complex, hedged about with lengthy documents apparently designed to veil its mysteries. It is something for them and not us; something to criticise when things happen we do not like.

In fact the opposite is true. In Scotland we have a plan-led system, which means that all applications are considered against the (hopefully) clear policies and guidance set out in the Local Development Plan (LDP). The LDP should conform to Scottish Government planning policies and guidance but it is, nonetheless, a vital document designed to help resolve both local and strategic issues.

Our current LDP was formally adopted in 2015 and so is still up to date. However, we are required to review the plan every five years and so work is now underway on what will be the second Park-wide LDP.

LDPs are not drawn up at random of course but are based firmly on evidence around housing need, flooding, infrastructure – including water supply and drainage provision – the health of our town centres and importantly the assessment of potential environmental impacts arising through the delivery of the LDP. With around half of the CNP having European designations, this is of course an essential piece of work.

It is worth emphasising that once the new LDP is adopted in 2020, all decisions on planning applications within the Park will be taken in line with the policies and guidance it contains. This applies to applications determined by the CNPA and those decided by the local authorities within the Park.

This being the case, it is essential that communities get involved in the preparation of the LDP; helping to set the policies and guidance now is more important than objecting to a proposal later.

We are currently consulting on a ‘call for sites and ideas’. This is a process that allows anyone with an interest in the development of land to suggest possible sites for consideration.

New legislation gives communities powers to undertake development themselves – and the response to our recent National Park Partnership Plan shows there is interest in this – so community councils have been contacted directly to seek their views, as well as landowners and other interested parties.

As yet the CNPA has not decided how many house sites will be needed from 2020 so there is no guarantee that any land put forward for consideration at this stage will make it into the LDP.

The ‘call for sites and ideas’ consultation runs until 3rd February and full details are on our website.

The responses, together with all the other evidence, will be used to prepare the Main Issues Report which will be subject to full consultation later in the year.

I accept that Planning is not everyone’s cup of tea but it is nonetheless hugely important and I would urge everyone to join us in preparing the best possible Local Development Plan for our Park.

Thank you for reading my columns, and to you all, the very best wishes for 2017.