Just prior to going to print, Gordon Strachan our Treasurer and myself visited the new Cairngorms Partnership Authority Planning office in the Albert Memorial Hall, Station Square, Ballater. Local Planning Policy Officer, Norman Brockie and Don McKee, Planning Manager (the latter having been in the post for a week) were our very hospitable hosts.
NEMT has long been concerned about planning controls in the National Park and our last issue covers the Authority's Convenor, Andrew Thin's meeting with the NEMT General Council. It is therefore very interesting to learn that all 4 Local Authorities in the Park are now notifying the Ballater Planning Office of ALL of the planning applications that they receive. The Ballater office advises which of these they wish to see and they are given 21 days to decide if they wish to call them in. Fortnightly Planning Committee meetings are held with the full CNP Board in attendance and decisions are made at these meetings as to which Planning Applications they will call in – with anything from 10 to 20 applications being considered per meeting.
CNP Website www.cairngorms.co.uk is comprehensive and it lists, for example, the planning applications that have considered at each of their fortnightly meetings.
CNP Board also holds monthly meetings at locations around the Park. On the evening before they host a public meeting in a local hotel and then on the morning of the following day they hold one of their fortnightly planning meetings – the official Board Meeting being in the afternoon of the same day. CNP Board has 10 Working Groups one of which is the Planning Working Group and they too hold monthly meetings to look at strategic planning issues and the 4 Local Authorities, Community Scotland and SEPA are also in attendance at the latter. Clearly there is a lot going on!
Regards staffing, the Ballater Office has 2 Development Control Officers, 2 Local Planning Policy Officers, a GIS Technician, a Community and Cultural Officer, an Administrator and of course Don McKee, the Planning Manager. 2 Community Liaison Co-ordinators have also just been appointed to assist with the Local Plan Consultation that is being launched in July. Yes, it is soon to be consultation time again with the Park Plan looking at the strategic framework of the Park and the Local Plan looking at more local issues concerning specific land use development. Yes, NEMT has a good history of responding to pre-Park consultations so we are now set to follow through, with henceforth our responses being sent "up the road" to Ballater.
We are advised the Planning Office is just completing the Park's Renewable Energy Policy and starting on their Interim Policies on Vehicle Hilltracks and Radio Telecom towers. In conclusion Gordon and I felt the meeting was very worthwhile and there is definitely a feel good factor to having such a prestigious and important Park presence on the south side of the Cairngorms. NEMT now looks forward to nurturing a good and healthy relationship with this new entity!
Jennifer A Cook, Chairwoman NEMT, Spring 2004
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