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Highlands and Islands Greens
Highlands and Islands Greens

Democracy Dies in the Highlands on 15 September 2010

Tuesday, September 14th, 2010

Highland Greens have deplored The Highland Council’s intention to consider on 15 September the Statton and East Seafield Planning application while the Council’s own Highland-Wide Development Plan consultation process, which covers the East Inverness area affected, is still underway.  They have urged Councillor Foxley, leader of the LibDem-led Council to cancel the scheduled hearing.

Donnie Macleod, a prospective Scottish Green Party candidate for Highlands and Islands, said “This application is for a huge, new town area.  One superstore alone will cover 8,000 square metres.  It comprises a major part of the East Inverness area, the future development of which forms a significant element of the Council’s proposed Highland-Wide Development plan, on which the public consultation is still ongoing.

“The Council’s Main Issues report describes its proposals for the East Inverness area in some detail, and positively invites comments on them.  So for the Council to consider this application now is wholly contrary to, and shows complete disregard for, the consultation process.  The Council is clearly set on pre-empting the outcome of the results of the final consultation before they have even been sought.

“Furthermore, the Council’s own Planning Committee’s recent meeting decreed that all proposals in the A96 corridor which had a measure of adopted Local Plan support could be determined in advance of the new Local Development Plan being settled.  We find it both staggering and deplorable for the Council to cast aside the consultation process on the basis that just some of the area affected already had a measure of Local Plan support.  And this decision by the Committee to by-pass the consultation process was taken in the month before the final public consultation is due to be launched.

“The Council’s statement that the proposal has a ‘measure’ of existing local plan support is misleading.  In fact the applicant’s own website says that ‘The Inverness Local Plan (2006) allocates most [our emphasis] of the land within the application as “green wedge”, with areas allocated for business.

“To add insult to injury, the Council’s own proposals for the East Inverness area, and described in its ‘Main Issues’ report, plan for a miserly 13 hectares of open space, less than half the area required under its own ‘Open Spaces’ policy.

Notes:

(1) The East Inverness area covers about two square kilometres (excluding the Beechwood complex).

(2) The Council is due to launch its final HWDP consultation later this month.

(3) The H&IGP letter to Cllr. Foxley is below:

9 September 2010

Dear Councillor Foxley

TOWN AND COUNTRY PLANNING (SCOTLAND) ACT 1997
AS AMENDED BY THE PLANNING ETC.(SCOTLAND ACT) 2006
SPECIAL MEETING OF THE HIGHLAND COUNCIL – 15 SEPTEMBER 2010
LAND AT STRATTON AND EAST SEAFIELD, INVERNESS, NEW TOWN COMPRISING TOWN CENTRE, HOUSING AND COMMERCIAL DEVELOPMENT

I am writing on behalf of my Party to express our surprise and extreme disappointment that The Highland Council intends holding a hearing to consider this application, on 15 September 2010, while the Council’s Highland-wide Development Plan proposals (originally contained in its August 2009 ‘Main Issues’ report) – which relate (in part) directly to the huge area covered by this application – have yet to be published for the planned final consultation round, let alone finalised.  We find the Council’s intention to stage the hearing now completely unacceptable, and we invite you to cancel it immediately.

The Main Issues report is quite unequivocal in its proposals for the East Inverness area.  P.16 states: “Some of the key issues for the East Inverness area are …..to identify what level of development might be acceptable ….before major improvements are required”.  The public are then invited to comment on the Council’s ‘preferred option’.  For the Council to consider this application now is therefore wholly contrary to, and shows complete disregard for, the consultation process; the Council is clearly set on pre-empting the outcome of the results of the final consultation before they have even been sought.

Furthermore, we note from the minutes of the Council’s Planning, Environment and Development Committee’s meeting on 11 August 2010 (item 9 (iii)) that “all proposals in the A96 corridor which had a measure* of adopted Local Plan support (in full or in part) could be determined in advance of the Local Development Plan Examination in line with updated guidance in the Proposed Plan”.  It is a major concern to us that the Council is prepared to cast aside the consultation process on the basis that just some of the area affected already had ‘a measure* of adopted Local Plan support (full or in part)’.  To add insult to injury, this announcement to stage the hearing and by-pass the consultation process was made in the month before the final public consultation was (and is?) due to be launched.

* We note from the applicant’s website that: ‘The Inverness Local Plan (2006) allocates most [our emphasis] of the land within the application as “green wedge”, with areas allocated for business.’

We therefore strongly invite you to cancel this scheduled hearing, and to consider it only in the light of the provisions of the new HWDP when it has been finalised.

I am copying this letter to Alistair Dodds, to Patrick Harvie MSP and to H&IGP Branch colleagues.

Yours sincerely
Neil Hornsby
Campaigns Co-ordinator
Highlands and Islands Green Party