Unprecedented representations over the Proposed Aberdeenshire Local Plan 2020
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More than 1300 representations have been received on the proposed Aberdeenshire Local Development Plan 2020.
After being formally published online on May 25, Aberdeenshire Council hosted a 10-week largely digital consultation during which representations on the content of the Proposed LDP could be made.
In light of the Covid-19 pandemic, stakeholder drop-in events were replaced with electronic means of engagement such as a virtual drop-in ‘room’, three short films, Q&A sessions with Community Councils as well as offering an online live chat option in addition to more traditional means of communication.
All representations have now been formally acknowledged and assigned a unique reference number.
The single biggest issue arising from the representations is objection received to proposed opportunity sites (OP1 and OP2) in Potterton, with around 20 per cent of all representations received concerning that matter.
The total number of representations to the Proposed LDP is significantly higher than received to the Proposed LDP in 2015.
Commenting on the response, Aberdeenshire Council’s Head of Planning, Paul Macari, said: “We firmly believe that this is a positive reflection of the progress made in raising awareness and the ability for communities and stakeholders to engage in the plan-making process.
“Most settlements contained in the Proposed LDP have seen some level of representation to them - both in terms of support and objecting to proposals.
“In terms of policies, the level of representation is not as high as that for the Settlement Statements, which is as expected, and indeed there are several policy topics which have received no representation at all.”
As with previous LDP examinations, the housing allowances outlined in the Proposed LDP have been challenged by some in the housing sector.
Aberdeenshire Council’s policy team is currently focused on summarising each of the representations received to fully identify the extent of the ‘unresolved matters’ which require to be examined by an independent reporter in examining the Proposed LDP.
Officers will prepare a document known as a ‘Schedule 4’ - a prescribed form used to group together and summarise all the related matters raised in representations – which will form the basis for the Report of Examination with the reporter adding their conclusions and recommendations on each Issue.
Mr Macari continued: “It is expected that the Proposed LDP will be submitted to Scottish Ministers for examination in December 2020.
"The Reporter will first consider the council’s ‘Statement of Conformity’ before proceeding to examination of the unresolved issues raised in the Schedule 4.
"There is no automatic opportunity for representees to expand on their representation later in the process unless specifically asked by the reporter during the examination.”
The examination will take in the region of six to nine months and it is anticipated that the Report of Examination will be presented to a meeting of Full Council during the autumn of 2021 at which time councillors will decide whether they wish to adopt a new LDP for the Aberdeenshire area.
The current LDP 2017 will become out of date in April 2022 and so it is important that Aberdeenshire Council is in a position to replace the existing LDP before that point.