Builders flock to sample simple service

A pioneering service from planners at The Highland Council has proved a hit with developers.
The scheme helps make the planning process more effective by encouraging early talks with developers in advance of planning applications for major projects such as housing developments of more than 50 houses, large shops and energy projects.
Planners advise on issues such as transport arrangements, design, sustainability and community engagement. “This simple, yet very effective service, has been recognised locally and nationally as a model of best practice and has garnered praise from partner organisations and the development industry,” said a council official.
Since its introduction in 2009 the service has given assistance on major developments from new tourism facilities to renewable energy projects. And it recently reached a milestone of 100 pre-application advice packs issued to developers.
Councillor Thomas Prag who chairs the planning committee, said: “People often feel the planning process can be long winded and unclear, so we wanted to find a way of helping applicants through the system.
“This shows how we are meeting the challenges of planning reform by providing a service which not only speeds things up but creates an environment where there can be a greater understanding and cooperation between the public and private sector and most importantly for our communities – getting the right partnerships in place to deliver better developments in the right places.”