Local plan just weeks away

COUNCIL officials are hoping the scrutiny of the Aberdeenshire local development plan will be completed in the coming weeks - nearly a year after councillors submitted it to Scottish Ministers.

It marks a significant milestone and the start of the final phase of the adoption of the plan.

The conclusion of the examination of the proposed plan is taking longer than the six months anticipated when it was submitted in March last year.

It is thought to be due mainly to the complexities of the issues in the area and the demand for alternate development land.

The examination is looking at objections to the proposed plan and is being carried out by the Government’s Directorate of Planning and Environmental Appeals, on behalf of Ministers.

Following examination, the reporter will deliver a report to the council with conclusions and recommendations on each issue.

The report is largely binding on planning authorities, meaning that they may only depart from the recommendations if there are exceptional circumstances.

The proposed plan was drawn up after two years of extensive consultation and engagement with communities, landowners and developers.

It is a blueprint for future development in the area and sets out ambitious long-term and site-specific visions.

Chairman of the local authority’s Infrastructure Services Committee (ISC) Peter Argyle, said: “Given the geographical size and demographic spread of Aberdeenshire, the examination has had to consider a large number of complex issues and competing demands.

“We do now expect to receive the reporter’s report on the examination in March, though I have to emphasise this is totally outwith our control.

“We would hope to seek approval for the notice of intention to adopt the plan at the last full council meeting on April 26 ahead of the elections in May.”