Aberdeenshire Council to launch online consultation on Proposed Local Development Plan on May 25

Aberdeenshire Council will launch an eight-week online consultation on its Proposed Local Development Plan 2020 (LDP) on Monday, May 25.

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) unanimously approved the new consultation approach, which ends on July 17, when they met earlier this week.

Head of Planning, Paul Macari, told councillors that 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, Q&A sessions and a 24-hour virtual ‘live chat’ platform.

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.

There is also the ability for the Local Development Plan to be read aloud when opened online to make it as accessible as possible.

The online platforms and resources have also been shared with the council’s Education and Children’s Services to encourage greater engagement and dialogue around the Proposed Local Development Plan with younger generations.

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.

Those who do not use or have limited access to online facilities can still fully participate in the consultation process. The Planning Service continues to provide full contact details for engagement by telephone or via written correspondence with their planning officers and this alternative means of communication will be similarly welcomed where necessary. 

To make a written response, you can write to the: Planning Policy Team, Infrastructure Services, Aberdeenshire Council, Woodhill House, Westburn Road, Aberdeen, AB165GB.

If you wish to discuss any matters with a member of the team, call 01467 536230.

ISC chair Councillor Peter Argyle said: “Given normal circumstances, we wouldn’t consider doing a solely electronic consultation on a matter of such importance as this. However, it is time-critical and we do need to get this consultation completed so we can everything off to the Reporter’s Unit and get through to the examination in public.

“I commend the Service for the thought and work that has gone into the paper – it has been very thorough – and we really don’t have a huge amount of choice in this. Clearly it will be challenging for people without access to the internet or access to a computer and that is something we will be addressing as best we can.”

Vice-chair Councillor John Cox added: “Our Planning Service must be applauded for looking into such innovative ways of communicating with our communities at such short notice as a result of the current pandemic.

“Supported by our area managers and Community Planning teams, the ‘virtual’ opportunities to be provided to residents, developers, community councils, customers and stakeholders will also provide an opportunity for us, as a responsible local authority, to learn for future engagement and consultation we undertake.”

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

As part of the public consultation, three short films are available on Aberdeenshire Council's YouTube channel by clicking on the following links:

The LDP Process: https://bit.ly/LDP-makingprocess
The Proposed LDP: https://bit.ly/PLDP2020
Public Engagement: https://bit.ly/PLDP2020consultation