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Planning workshops – 21 & 22 March 2011. All welcome.

14th March 2011

The Cairngorms National Park Authority’s (CNPA) planners are asking the public how it can improve on the service that if offers.

Two meetings are being held later this month in Ballater and Aviemore so that the Park Authority can gather views on how to improve the overall quality of its planning service. Anyone with an interest in the planning system and how it shapes the future of the National Park is welcome.

The meetings take place on Monday 21 March at the Cairngorm Hotel in Aviemore and on Tuesday 22 March at the Albert Hall in Ballater. Anyone can attend the sessions which are from 7pm-9pm.

There will be brief presentations on how the CNPA’s planning service works and recent service improvements but the bulk of the time will be for people to put forward their own suggestions.

Don McKee, Head Planner at the CNPA explained: “The CNPA is committed to delivering a high quality, user-friendly planning service for the Cairngorms National Park and these planning workshops are just part of a series of improvements we are making.

“In late 2010 we prepared a Planning Service Improvement Plan which highlighted seven areas for attention which included making the service more user friendly, improving access to information by making our processes available online, improving the “call-in” procedures and working more closely with local authorities. Further to that we also identified the need to strengthen the role of the planning system in achieving sustainable rural development, improve our determination rate and improve our enforcement activity.

“We recognise that planning is a contentious area of work and people have strong views about what should and shouldn’t happen in a National Park. We hope that people participate constructively and will help us to do an even better job in the future. The sessions will focus on the processes and procedures of planning – we will not be looking in detail at any particular decisions which have already been made.”

The meetings are being facilitated by Planning Aid Scotland (PAS), an independent charity helping people to understand, engage and benefit from the planning system.

Petra Biberbach, Chief Executive of PAS, says that by encouraging meaningful community engagement at an early stage, everyone can benefit from a more inclusive – and efficient – planning system.

“We believe passionately in active and engaged citizens, empowered communities and a better environment. We don’t just sit back and wait for people to contact us for planning advice; we actively reach out into communities – we want to take planning to the people.”

As well as the planning workshops later this month, a programme of planning training for communities will take place in May/June and both printed and online information about planning and development management in the National Park is currently being updated and made more user-friendly. An Enforcement Charter is also about to be published by the CNPA, setting out the current powers available to the organisation’s planning team with the aim of ensuring that the adopted procedures for enforcement are fair and reasonable to all concerned.

Furthermore, the CNPA Planning Committee has recently adopted revised Standing Orders which double the amount of time available for community councils to speak at meetings.

For more information on the planning workshops please contact: Julie Millman on tel: 013397 53614 or  email planning.