ISC round up November 29

Local Development Plan Main Issues Report

As part of the preparation of the next Aberdeenshire Local Development Plan (LDP), effectively a planning blueprint for the future of the area, Planning Service Manager Bruce Stewart presented the Main Issues Report (MIR) for the LDP to the committee, seeking approval from councillors to go out to public consultation on the document. 

The LDP sets out the policies that will be used for assessing planning applications and identifies development opportunities across Aberdeenshire.

The MIR is a key document which facilitates community engagement in the development of the LDP, outlining the main changes which officers suggest should be made following on from the preceding plan. It is designed to create debate and discussion and in future councillors will be asked to consider all comments received during the consultation exercise and to make decisions taking all the comments received into account.

Infrastructure Services Committee (ISC) agreed to allow the Main Issues Report to go out to public consultation, starting in January and running for three months. Further information on how to take part will be made available in due course.

Stonehaven Flood Protection Scheme

The committee considered a report on the Stonehaven Flood Protection Scheme in private, but ISC chair Peter Argyle agreed to the release of information contained in the report, which relates to the appointment of a contractor to deliver the scheme.

You can read more about the progress of the scheme on the news section of the council’s website.

Strategic Transport Update

The committee received its latest report giving an update on Strategic Transport projects across the region.

This included news that work to deliver the new rail station at Kintore is progressing, with finalised designs for ancillary footway and junction improvement works on Northern Road being taken through the tender process.

Councillors also heard that the Charge Place Scotland Grant A947 programme has progressed, with installation of Electric Vehicle charging points due to be completed by March 2019. Sites have been selected in Newmachar, Oldmeldrum, Fyvie, Turriff and Banff. A replacement programme for Electromotive 7kW charge points will also be completed by March 2019.

Councillors noted progress and developments taken through regional transport partnership Nestrans and acknowledged the activities and developments being taken forward by external agencies and stakeholders set out in the report.

The committee also agreed an Aberdeenshire Council response to the City Council’s Cross City Connections consultation – the project looks at opportunities for improving public transport and active travel connectivity between new developments and masterplan sites that are being planned and built out on the periphery of the city boundary.

Members noted the updated Road Safety Plan for the area and agreed to accept further updates on the progress of both the implementation and delivery of the Aberdeenshire Local Transport Strategy (LTS) as appropriate.

Officers were also asked to arrange a workshop for councillors on Electric Vehicle charging infrastructure, following discussions on the subject.

ISC chair Peter Argyle also praised the work of the team behind Safe Drive Stay Alive Grampian, which recently benefitted thousands of young people across the region.

You can see the full Strategic Transport update in the report to committee

A96 Dualling – Initial Route Options

The committee received a report relating to the initial options for the dualling of the A96 Trunk Road put forward by Transport Scotland.

Councillors noted the progress made to date by the transport agency on the project, and discussed the council's feedback on the options presented.

They heard from a representative of Keithhall and Bourtie Local Action Group, who outlined some of its concerns about the proposals, putting forward alternative suggestions.

ISC chair Peter Argyle highlighted that this is a Scottish Government project being taken forward by Transport Scotland and the council is simply a consultee, but he acknowledged and recognised the concerns of local communities, albeit a final decision on the route will be taken by Transport Scotland and Scottish Ministers.

The committee agreed the council still has a strategic preference for route options to the north east of Inverurie and reiterated to Transport Scotland the importance of further, proactive and meaningful engagement with officers, councillors, communities and other interested parties.

Following discussion by councillors, the council’s final response will be approved by the Chair and Vice-Chair of ISC and the Opposition Spokesperson.
Review of off street parking in Aberdeenshire

The future of car parking tariffs in Aberdeenshire will now be decided by Full Council in January, after a decision on the matter was referred there by ISC.

The committee had been due to take a decision on the issue, which includes a proposal to remove free parking periods in Pay and Display car parks and to alter their pricing structure.

Councillors had heard this proposal was made in an attempt to ensure the parking service pays for itself – following the introduction of free periods it has been running at a significant deficit.

After a majority vote by the committee to accept the recommended changes, councillor Glen Reid (East Garioch) asked that the decision be referred to Full Council – with support from a third of committee members (five councillors) this was agreed.

A decision relating to the future of parking charges in Aberdeenshire is now expected to be made on January 17.

Rural Partnership Funds Review

ISC agreed to support the continuing development of the six Area Rural Partnerships who collectively form the Aberdeenshire Rural Partnership Federation.

Councillors allocated a total of £203,400 to fund their work in 2019/20 - £33,900 each.

Rural Partnerships in Aberdeenshire were set up in the 1990s as independent organisations, created and managed by community representatives.

They have evolved to reflect the needs of communities, developing extensive knowledge and expertise to fulfil their core purpose of helping to build stronger, more sustainable communities.

The Council has a service level agreement with each of the partnerships. To help show the benefits of their work, two years ago they started to complete Action Plans for the Council stating targets for the following year which are then measured and monitored.

The six Rural Partnerships work together as the Aberdeenshire Rural Partnerships Federation to share good practice and work jointly on projects.

ISC and Area Committees will continue to receive annual reports on the performance, outcome and impacts of the work of the Rural Partnerships.

VisitAberdeenshire Funding

The committee agreed Aberdeenshire Council will contribute £415,000 to the operation of local tourism body VisitAberdeenshire for the next three years.

Councillors also asked the council’s Head of Economic Development, Belinda Miller, to conclude a Grant Agreement with the organisation which will include Key Performance Indicators.

In addition, a report will also be submitted to ISC on an annual basis to cover VisitAberdeenshire’s activities, outcomes and performance.

The organisation also receives funding from Aberdeen City Council and Opportunity North East (ONE), councillors heard.

ISC chair Peter Argyle highlighted the importance of tourism to the economy of the area, while other members of the committee welcomed the inclusion of performance indicators, saying they would also like to see more engagement by VisitAberdeenshire with local members.

 ** You can see the whole ISC agenda, associated reports and the corresponding Decision Sheet on the committee section of the Aberdeenshire Council website.