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Plan fit for the 21st century – step closer for the Cairngorms National Park Local Plan

30th May 2008

The Planning Committee of the Cairngorms National Park Authority (CNPA) has approved the latest modifications to the Deposit Local Plan for the Park signalling the final stages of the development of this key document.

The Local Plan will provide a development framework for the Cairngorms National Park and will replace those currently in existence for the four local authorities currently covering the Park: Highland, Moray, Aberdeenshire and Angus. Once adopted it will be used to assess and determine all planning applications for developments across the entire Park.

Providing clear and consistent guidance across the Park – and in three key areas of housing, business support and the environment – the Local Plan seeks to encourage innovation and opportunities for sustainable development within the context of the Park aims. The main issue that has driven the development of this first Local Plan for the Cairngorms National Park is – of course – housing, with communities in the Park stressing the need for more affordable housing in their area during the various consultations that have taken place since 2004.

David Green, CNPA Board Convener said: “There is a real need for affordable housing for people living and working in the Park and the Local Plan sets out a requirement to ensure this is achieved. However, there is still market demand for a wide range of homes so it’s important to strike the correct balance to ensure developers provide affordable housing while giving them enough incentive to develop the land.

“Among the policies in the Local Plan to ensure there is an adequate supply of affordable homes in the future is the expectation that there will be a minimum 40 per cent affordable housing quota where public funding has been secured towards the cost of building a housing development and where there is little or no public money involved, the minimum requirement will be 25 per cent.”

Duncan Bryden, CNPA Planning Committee Convener added that the consultation process to date had worked well. He said: “This is not the CNPA’s Local Plan; it’s a Plan for the entire Cairngorms National Park. Thanks go to everyone who has taken the time to contribute to the consultation process and I hope they see we are taking on board these contributions in a pro-active fashion.

“For example, we received comments from local builders and those involved in the development industry who expressed concerns about the lack of opportunities for them so we have made several modifications as a result. We have included a policy which will allow for small scale infill development within settlements; rewritten another policy which will allow for housing development where there is a group of three or more existing houses and we have also taken measures to ensure that new large scale housing developments must involve a variety of people including small scale, local builders and not given over solely to large scale builders.”

Not all comments of course have been acted upon, especially where a request for development would harm the special qualities of the Park. Local Plan Officer, Alison Lax explained: ” A number of objections were received from people who said the plan was too focussed on development and that not enough weight was being placed on protecting the special qualities of the Park and in some cases we have agreed.

“Take Nethy Bridge for example, where a number of representations were received from developers wanting more land allocated for housing. This has been resisted with more land around the village now allocated as ‘environment’ in order to protect it from further development.”

Now that the CNPA Planning Committee has approved the modifications, the next round of consultation will begin on 16 June. People can only comment on the modifications however, and not the entire Plan. Look out for more information in the press nearer the time.