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Aberdeenshire Councillors to consider the future of the Town Centre First Principle

By David Porter

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Turriff will remain one of the focus towns for the policy
Turriff will remain one of the focus towns for the policy

The Town Centre First Principle Policy (TCFP) which has been fundamental to planning and economic development in towns across the north-east will come under scrutinty from councillors in the coming weeks.

Members of the council's six area committees, starting with Buchan are being asked for comment and feedback as the current policy has reached its five year term and is due for renewal.

The TCFP was launched jointly by the Scottish Government and COSLA in January 2015 and adopted in Aberdeenshire in 2017.

It states that town centres are a key element of the economic, social, and environmental fabric of Scotland’s towns; often at the core of community and economic life, offering spaces in which to live, meet and interact, do business, and access facilities and services.

It adds that councils and residents must take collective responsibility to help town centres thrive sustainably, reinvent their function, and meet the needs of residents, businesses, and visitors for the

21st century.

In a report which will be heard at each area committee is stated by officers that "The TCFP Policy has been successful.

"It has raised awareness and allowed mitigating actions to be thought through where decisions impact the town centres.

"It has allowed officers to understand the impacts council decisions can make to our town centres and has enabled impacts to be considered in all decision making processes.

"It was evident through the consultation process that there is an appetite to do more."

The report also recommends that the TCFP continues to cover the principle town centres of Banchory, Banff, Ellon, Fraserburgh, Huntly, Inverurie, Peterhead, Stonehaven, Turriff and Ballater.

These towns have been recommended as they have a diverse mix of uses, have a wider economic and social base and integration with residential areas.

The report continues: "It is important that our principle town centres are supported to enable economic growth and in turn this will support the outlying villages and settlements.

"It is expected that in time other policy areas such as 20 minute neighbourhoods and Place Plans can help to develop function and activity in our smaller towns and settlements."

Further work will be done to ensure that town centres are considered in all decision making processes and planners will continue to encourage more town centre development rather than out of town development.

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