Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Highland Council behaving like the bankers?

More criticism of the draft Highland Development plan at the West CC on Tuesday night. Brian Stewart had a quick recap of the situation so far and outlined the progress of the plan from the Main Issues Report to the first stage of the consultation and now the opportunity to comment on the draft plan. He was very concerned about the draft however, like many Gurnites out there who wonder why there is so much development planned for the Nairn area.

After his introduction Cllr Stewart said: ‘It’s kind of surprising and depressing that the Highland Wide Draft Development Plan is actually so little different from the original outline that they prepared. I was surprised and disappointed that they seem to have been so patchy and inconsistent in what they have picked up from the feedback they got.’

Brian believes there are three main problems, he continued, ‘One is that the plan as it is set out is still dogmatically attached to the aspiration of massive population growth, high migration, high expansion. It is also still based on suspect and, in my view, excessive predictions of housing demand and need. It was interesting that at the public Ward Forum, the most telling questions were raised by a member of the public who challenged the figures of Malcom MacLeod that were in the plan and Malcom MacLeod, who is the principle planner responsible for it, simply wasn’t able to explain or justify the arithmetic.

The broader issue is that the Council seems to have failed to notice that since they started thinking and talking about the plan the environment has changed radically. When they started thinking about development, the Country was booming, the economy was booming. Inverness was expanding rapidly and there seems to be a belief that somehow, that magically, this is all going to carry on irrespective of what’s happening in the real world. I’m beginning to worry that the Highland Council are behaving like the bankers. They just keep on doing what they’ve always been doing. The goal is growth, if we keep on planning for lots of growth then we’ll get lots of returns.’

More from the West CC debate on the plan later this week if time permits. In the meantime Gurnites may wish to read articles concerning the plan that have appeared recently on the APT blog.

No comments: