Argyll and Bute Council’s Planning department is the only one to be nominated three times in the Scottish National Planning Awards 2012. The Awards are one of the Scottish Government's most prestigious events and celebrate achievements in planning, from strategic visions to development on the ground. The Awards have now been running for over 10 years.
Argyll and Bute Council’s nominations and their categories are as follows:
Community Engagement – The Craignish Plan
Development Plans – The Woodland and Forestry Strategy
Quality of Service – Creating Agile Planners
Chair of the Planning, Protective Services and Licensing Committee, Councillor Sandy Taylor said, “Who could fail to be impressed by the team’s achievement being nominated three times at the Scottish National Planning Awards. Each nomination is for a very different, worthy project which reflects well on the team. I wish the team every success.”
The idea for the Craignish Plan came about in 2009 when Craignish Community Council approached the council to see how best the local community could influence the future of land use planning for the Craignish area. Given the complicated and at times confrontational planning history of the area it was suggested that the community might like to prepare its own Community land use Plan that could be approved as non-statutory planning guidance and ultimately inform the content of the emerging Local Development Plan. It was also hoped that this approach to land use planning could be rolled out to other communities, where appropriate, and linked to other forms of community development plans or strategies that seek to deliver a sustainable economic, social and environmental future for the communities concerned.
The main aim of this project is to empower a local community in Argyll and Bute to produce its own community based land use plan for their area within the context of established land use policy that has been produced by the council as planning authority. The council approved the plan in March 2012 following full consideration by the committee process.
The Argyll and Bute Woodland and Forestry Strategy covers the Argyll and Bute Council area, excluding Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park, which is a separate planning authority. Argyll and Bute is one of the most densely wooded of Scotland’s local authority areas, with around 30% (more than 2000km2) of the total land area under woodland of varying types, compared with the Scottish national average of 17%. Bringing forward a Woodland and Forestry Strategy in this area was seen as important in order to more fully realise the benefits of this massive natural resource but was seen as challenging given the varied nature of the environment and remote and dispersed character of the population.
The new strategy aims to maximise the role of woodland and forests in contributing to the area’s social and economic development and its natural and cultural heritage; tackles the challenge of remoteness from key markets, poor transport infrastructure and low levels of added value and highlights the role of woodlands in mitigating and adapting to climate change. The strategy already has won a coveted award at the UK Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) Planning Awards.
Finally the creation of agile planners is a new way of delivering the development management service in Argyll and Bute. It couples cutting edge technology with modern management techniques and working patterns to deliver an output that is favoured by staff and customers alike.
Development management officers need access to every inch of the area and operate out of 4 satellite offices in Helensburgh, Oban, Dunoon and Lochgilphead. The combination of dispersed staff, multiple office locations, scale of the geography and travel times presents real, everyday challenges to efficient service delivery. Planners now have total flexibility on where they work and live plus are empowered to undertake their duties in a manner that is most efficient to the council and themselves.