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02 June 2019Inner Moray Firth Local Development Plan Review

Dear Community Council

We know that Community Councils are made up of people who care about their community and many are keen to shape its future growth.  The Council’s Local Development Plan can play an important role in doing that for Community Councils.  Following on from our initial announcement last month of the upcoming review of the Inner Moray Firth Local Development Plan (IMF LDP), we want to assist and support you in engaging effectively in the process of reviewing the IMFLDP and below are some of the key pieces of information you will need:

What is the Inner Moray Firth Local Development Plan? 

It is one of the main planning documents which forms part of the Council’s Development Plan.  These are a set of documents that are used in the determination of planning applications and help to inform investment decisions.  The IMFLDP sets out a strategy for the Inner Moray Firth area and identifies particular settlements and sites for future growth and development. 

Why should Community Councils get engaged in its preparation?

Given that the plan will set out how our main towns and villages change over time, it is important that it reflects the aspirations of the local community.  As representative voices for their communities, the Community Council is ideally placed to gather information and share the general opinion and needs of the people they represent with the Council.  This position often differs from developers/landowners, who are typically trying to promote particular sites for development, and neighbours of sites who typically want to protect their private interests.  Community Councils can bridge this gap by providing us with comments on what is best for the community as a whole. 

When should Community Councils get involved in the process?

Community Councils are encouraged to remain engaged throughout the preparation of the plan, however, it is particularly important to provide us with your views early on.  Below are the main stages in the plan process:

The first stage where you can make comments is called the Call for Sites which is expected to run for at least 6 weeks from late Spring/ early Summer 2019 (details will be announced shortly).  This is where we will be asking for developers, landowners and communities to suggest the key priorities for their area and which sites should be developed.  

Later in 2019, we will then publish the Main Issues Report which will show all the options available and will include the Council’s initial preferred position.  This is considered to be one of the key consultation stages and we will be encouraging everyone with an interest to submit their comments.  

The following stage will be the publication of the Proposed Plan (expected during the second half of 2020) which is the first published draft of the plan.  This will be the final chance for people to seek changes to the plan.

Once the Proposed Plan process is complete the plan is submitted to the Scottish Government for Examination and based on their conclusions it will then be taken forward for adoption. 

How can Community Councils engage effectively? 

We recommend that Community Councils should start now to prepare their response to the Call for Sites and Main Issues Report.   This should include setting out the main priorities for the area (for example the delivery of new affordable housing to retain young people or identify land for a new community centre) and highlight the sites which are considered suitable for development (for example land adjoining the settlement or a derelict site which would benefit from being redeveloped).  We recommend each Community Council familiarise themselves with the existing Plan and how it relates to their settlement(s).  This will help to show the typical information that a local development plan provides. 

Who should we contact if we need further information?

We want to support Community Councils and other community groups to be engaged in the process.  Therefore, if you have any questions or would like to discuss the plan process further please contact us at imfldp@highland.gov.ukand we will respond to queries as soon as possible.  For your information, please see the attached map which shows the geographical areas which individual planners in the team are currently responsible for covering.  Some Community Council’s have requested a short briefing session and in these cases we have agreed to attend Community Council meetings in a central location to help group these sessions.  Please let us know if this is something which you are interested in and we can look to make suitable arrangements.  

Kind regards

Scott Dalgarno

Development Plans Manager

Highland Council

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