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Highlands and Islands Greens
Highlands and Islands Greens

Publish the Guidance – Letter to Highland Council

Wednesday, August 15th, 2012

Mr Thomas Prag
Chair
Planning, Environment and Development Committee
The Highland Council
Glenurquhart Road
Inverness IV3 5NX

Dear Councillor Prag

RESIDENTIAL LAYOUT AND DESIGN GUIDANCE

I am writing on behalf of my Party to express our deep concerns that The Highland Council has yet to bring forward its ‘Residential layout and Design’ planning guidance, and to invite you and your committee members to discuss and agree the guidance, and issue it for public consultation, without further delay.

In March 2010, the Scottish Government published ‘Designing Streets: A Policy Document for Scotland’, which states that “Attractive and well-connected street networks encourage more people to walk and cycle to local destinations, improving their health while reducing motor traffic, energy use and pollution”.

We welcomed this document, and in response to our initial approach to your officials, we were told that draft local residential layout and design planning guidance would be put to the PED committee (also) in March 2010.  Since March 2010 we have repeatedly asked about progress, most recently in May 2012 when we were told that the draft guidance was still in preparation.  We now understand from the Council’s recent statement in the Inverness Courier that your committee will consider the draft guidance ‘before the end of the year’.

It is therefore extremely disappointing that The Highland Council’s associated local guidance has yet to appear, even in draft form.  Well over two years has elapsed since ‘Designing Streets’ was published, and almost three years will have gone by before The Highland Council’s public consultation gets underway.

This delay is unacceptable.  Designing Streets’ introduction clearly states that “Designing Streets should be adopted by all Scottish local authorities or should provide the basis for local and site-specific policy and guidance”, with the tacit implication that local authorities should proceed ‘sooner rather than later’ with developing their own local guidance.

The Council’s delay in publishing its local guidance has effectively denied not only residents in new housing estates of these benefits, but also those residing in existing housing areas who – seeing the value of good street design in these new areas – could have expressed interest in having their roads converted to (say) Home Zones.

We are deeply concerned by the very obvious low priority being given by The Council to preparing this guidance.

We would therefore be grateful if you would, as a matter of urgency, agree to publish the draft guidance without further delay, early in the Autumn.

I am copying this letter to Caroline Gardner (Audit Scotland), Jim Mackinnon (Scottish Government) and Alistair Dodds (Highland Council).

Yours sincerely

Myra Carus
Vice convenor
Highlands and Islands Green Party

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