Aberdeenshire Council preparing to adopt online approach to Proposed Local Development Plan consultation

Aberdeenshire Council is preparing to focus on an online means of public engagement as part of an eight-week consultation on its Proposed Local Development Plan 2020 (LDP).

In light of social distancing measures, changes introduced though the Covid-19 emergency legislation and guidance from the Chief Planner, the local authority has considered it appropriate to publish a revised Development Plan Scheme for 2020 with a new participation statement outlining the engagement to be undertaken associated with the Proposed LDP 2020.

The Coronavirus (Scotland) Act 2020, includes provision to allow planning authorities to undertake public consultation without the need to make physical copies of documents available for inspection, for example in libraries or planning offices.

Members of the council’s Infrastructure Services Committee (ISC) will be asked to approve the new consultation approach when they meet on May 14.

In place of nine drop-in events, the council is now proposing to engage with stakeholders, including community councils, by way of electronic means such as virtual drop-ins and Q&A sessions.

Additional e-newsletter updates will be published in the lead up to and during the consultation period, with social media platforms being used to widely publicise the Proposed LDP and promote the production of three short films on the plan-making process.

The Proposed LDP consultation is now scheduled to commence on May 25, closing on July 17.

Director of Infrastructure Services, Stephen Archer, says: “Changes brought about by the current circumstances present an opportunity for Aberdeenshire Council to embrace engagement through alternative means than purely relying on face-to-face interaction.

“Innovative ways of communicating with and meeting customers and stakeholders ‘virtually’ will be adopted where possible which will provide an opportunity to also learn for future engagement and consultation undertaken by the council.”

Councillors will be advised that while it is recognised that the lack of engagement through the provision of physical documents and face to face communication throughout the consultation period will not suit everyone, it is hoped that this pragmatic approach will reach as wide an audience as possible in the circumstances.

In keeping with the initial Development Plan Scheme, Aberdeenshire Council will notify all neighbouring properties to proposed development sites and views will be sought on the proposals.

Similarly, all those who made comments on the Main Issues Report will be contacted
and invited to examine the outcomes of the council’s deliberations on the issues identified during the Main Issues Report stage.

Aberdeenshire Council formally agreed its Proposed LDP on March 5 and will submit its proposals to Scottish Ministers for examination later this year, following consideration of representations received during the consultation period.

Once every five years the council is required to publish a new LDP for the area to inform and advise developers and communities of the principles on which built development should follow and where it should be located.

As part of the process, each year a Development Plan Scheme is published to inform stakeholders of the stage the council is at in preparing a new Local Development Plan for the area. 

The content of the Proposed LDP remains largely unchanged from the existing Aberdeenshire Local Development Plan 2017, featuring an ongoing vision of helping develop a strong and resilient economy, promoting a high quality of life and sustainable, low carbon places. 

It also seeks to ensure that the exceptional cultural and natural environment across Aberdeenshire is protected and enhanced.  

New housing opportunities have been identified across Aberdeenshire including sites at Banchory, Echt, Fetterangus, Fyvie, Gourdon, Inverurie, Newburgh, Pitmedden, St Combs and Turriff among others. 

Development continues to be focused towards the three strategic growth areas along the A90 north and south and the A96. 

Aberdeenshire has had a fully up-to-date Local Development Plan for a number of years which ensures that new developments take place alongside the provision of facilities such as schools and in places where the transport system is either suitable for dealing with the increased travel demand or can be improved. 

The Proposed LDP and supporting documents will be published online on 25 May  https://www.aberdeenshire.gov.uk/planning/plans-and-policies/ldp-2021/