The development of a Local Plan covering the Cairngorms National Park is entering a new phase with the publication of the Consultation Draft Local Plan expected within the next two months.
At the Cairngorms National Park Authority’s (CNPA) Planning Committee meeting on Friday (1 July), members agreed to move forward with the second round of consultation.
Over the course of the late summer and into the autumn, everyone will have the opportunity to comment on the Consultation Draft Local Plan through a series of meetings and community events.
Head of Planning and Development Control at the CNPA, Don McKee explained: “We will soon have the Consultation Draft Local Plan but this should be viewed as being a ‘work in progress’ that people can still contribute to and influence, and it is important that people continue to be involved. We need to gauge whether the contents of the Consultation Draft reflect the views expressed in the initial consultation. CNPA members wish to have as many views and comments as possible before they decide on the content of the version of the Local Plan that goes on deposit for formal consultation.”
The first phase of consultation saw the return of 1,400 questionnaires and over 1,600 people attended local meetings and workshops across the Park. Information gathered during this phase has informed the Consultation Draft Local Plan and draft community statements and settlement maps have also been drawn up to help the process.
A range of issues were highlighted during the first round of consultation and have been addressed in the Consultation Draft Local Plan. Fears have been expressed about the rate at which some communities are growing, with most people wanting their community to stay much as it is with only small-scale development.
Most communities noted the need for small-scale business units for small enterprises or new business starts, there have been calls for better facilities to support the Park’s tourism industry and almost everyone expressed a desire to protect and enhance the environment.
Causing the most concern however, is affordable and local needs housing. The Local Plan is seen as being a key tool in assisting the delivery of affordable homes and local needs housing, which is for those people who do not qualify for affordable housing but who cannot access housing on the open market.
Don McKee added: “The Park Authority commissioned Heriot-Watt University to carry out a housing system analysis study which will help us to develop policy. We are still considering the detail of this study at the moment but we can clearly say that our aim is to produce a Local Plan that achieves the four aims of the Park in a collective and co-ordinated way. In other words, the Plan needs to meet the needs of communities whilst safeguarding the natural and cultural heritage of the area.
“The Consultation Draft of the Local Plan will contain some options for housing policies and we will gauge public opinion for these policies during this round of consultation. In the spirit of true consultation we will also be open to suggestions from anyone on alternative policies that will deliver the aims of the Park.”
A Finalised Draft Local Plan will be published in the spring of 2006 when a third round of consultation will take place in tandem with the draft National Park Plan – a broader document which will set out the strategic view of how the Park Authority and other stakeholders will go about delivering the four aims over a wide range of activities.
The continue to be involved in the development of the Local Plan, check the CNPA website, www.cairngorms.co.uk , the local press or look out for posters in the local community for details of consultation events taking place.