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Pupils see Planning in Action!

18th November 2016

Senior students from two Cairngorms National Park high schools have been witnessing democracy in action at the monthly Cairngorms National Park Authority Planning Committee meeting today (Friday 18th November).

Pupils from Kingussie High School and Grantown Grammar were invited by the Park Authority to attend the meeting, to witness the CNPA Board at work, and giving students the opportunity to learn about how planning decisions are made.

It was all part of the Scottish Government’s invite to public sector organisations to sign up to the Social Impact Pledge, committing to do something within an organisation that will have a direct benefit or impact on communities. With regards to the CNPA’s pledge, it is hoped the experience might encourage young people to consider volunteering for boards or consider a career in planning.

Despite the presence of 15 school pupils at today’s meeting, it was still business as usual with several high profile and interesting planning applications going before the Committee this morning, covering a range of issues including affordable housing, tourism and recreation and infrastructure.

Probably the most relevant application for the young people attending was an application for six homes and associated works near Inverdruie on the Rothiemurchus Estate, Aviemore. This application was approved and wholeheartedly supported by Committee members.

The applicants – Inverdruie Sawmill Cooperative – are a group of local people who have come together with support from the Highland Small Communities Housing Trust, and working with Rothiemurchus Estate, to generate their own affordable housing. Four of the six homes are for the members of the cooperative and will be kept affordable in perpetuity and two will be sold by the landowner as open market housing.

Planning Committee Convener Eleanor Mackintosh said: “How to deliver affordable housing is a constant question we have and there is no easy answer. However this cooperative is an excellent example of what can be done in the right place with the right partnership support. It is a complicated process but definitely worth it. I am very happy to support this community-led and innovative proposal for affordable housing for local people and I would like to wish the applicants the very best.”

Also getting approval was an application from the National Trust for Scotland to convert the derelict Derry Lodge to form tourist hostel accommodation. The category C listed building will be renovated to create a seven bedroom hostel providing accommodation for up to 20 visitors, a new flat roofed extension will provide drying and utility space and outbuildings will be converted to house a biomass plant room and store.

In recommending the application for approval planners considered the project to be an appropriate and sympathetic re-use of an important listed building in the heart of the Cairngorms National Park. It will mean a wider mix of people will be able to enjoy and experience the area without any of the issues associated with wild camping.

Also on the agenda was the CNPA’s latest response to Transport Scotland’s consultation on the dualling of the A9. Members were today looking at the section between Dalraddy and the Slochd – which is probably one of the most challenging and controversial sections of the route and various options are on the table – with the potential for demolition of residential properties as well as impacting on landscape, ecology and access.

The CNPA was also responding to a consultation from Perth & Kinross Council with regards to revised plans for a wind farm near Bridge of Cally in Perthshire, just 7km from the Cairngorms National Park boundary. The CNPA Planning Committee had already objected to the Green Burn project having been consulted in 201, and despite changes to the scheme, the Committee chose to continue its objection.

Kingussie High School Geography teacher, Ailith Stewart accompanied the students on their visit today. Following the meeting she said: “It has been a very useful insight into how planning decisions are reached. It was made particularly interesting with a planning application made by former pupils of Kingussie High School. The pupils here today are potential users of the planning process and it is important that young people understand it.”

For more information, see the Planning Committee papers.