In the main letter to the Champion Editor this week “P.B by email” expresses interest in how planning permission has been granted for development of 16 houses in a conservation area not far from the Culloden Battlefield, near Inverness.
P.B then goes on to link the WLBC with a statement from the National Trust for Scotland…”why the current planning system has to be reformed…balance between rights of communities, significance of national heritage, the profits of developers”. It’s worth noting here that all four countries have a planning system that is “plan-led” and England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales now each have their own primary planning legislation.
In the Culloden case Kirkwood Homes plans to build the properties at Viewhill, near Inverness. The Aberdeenshire-based company has welcomed the planning permission. But the National Trust for Scotland, which manages the battlefield and opposed the housing project, said the Viewhill case “illustrated why Scotland’s planning system has to be reformed”.
Here in West Lancashire, the rights of the Aughton community to fight the development of Parrs Lane were influenced by the loss of agricultural land, and the questions of affordability were not far from the centre either. And not so much “not in my back yard” but where was the infrastructure to go with it?
P.B thinks not all developers should be cast as profiteers as they provide us with a basic human need, somewhere to live and work. Some developers talk up their applications with promises of mixed developments, some even affordable, but look at their profits!
The answer might lie in what WLBC could do if it wished. The main assets of the Council are its housing stock and the other land, buildings and equipment that it owns. Total long term assets were recently valued at £231.999m, which was an increase of £23.840m on the previous year. WLBC could use those long term assets to form a development company for the purpose of building homes on land it owns. Why doesn’t it?