Peterhead set to benefit from Simplified Planning Zone

A planning based initiative to support business growth and encourage economic activity was backed by Aberdeenshire Council last week.

The council’s Infrastructure Services Committee (ISC) gave the go-ahead to begin the creation of a Simplified Planning Zone (SPZ) for Peterhead South.

The initiative is designed to strengthen the town’s position as a key strategic investment location, complementing works aimed at regenerating the town centre. It is only the second initiative of its kind in Scotland targeting business and employment uses.

The SPZ has a clear boundary, and removes the need to apply for planning permission for commercial development that complies with the SPZ Scheme. There is a requirement to notify Aberdeenshire Council of development proposed under the terms of the SPZ Scheme, and also at the commencement of works and on completion of the development.

The duration of a SPZ is ten years from its adoption, with monitoring and review on an annual basis.

Councillors agreed officers should begin the statutory process for the creation of the SPZ, including consultation with key agencies and partners.

Councillors on the Buchan Area Committee will be asked for their views before the proposed scheme is brought back to ISC for final approval.

The SPZ would lie at the northern gateway to Energetica, a 30-mile development corridor stretching from Aberdeen to Peterhead.

Chair of Aberdeenshire Council’s Infrastructure Services Committee, Councillor David Aitchison welcomed the decision.

He said: “It's the type of scheme I would hope to see coming through in terms of regeneration throughout Aberdeenshire.

“Certainly if the pilot was to prove successful I imagine other areas being interested in taking it on board.

“Clearly it has to be the right scheme in the right place – with that proviso it's something that, in terms of economic development, could be used throughout Aberdeenshire if the Peterhead pilot proves successful.”

Energetica development manager, James Welsh, commented: “We’re delighted to progress this initiative and add to the Energetica inward investment offering as the ideal location to work, live, visit and invest.

“We will continue to investigate innovative solutions to increase the attractiveness of the corridor and complement work of business already investing in Energetica. In a challenging economic climate we are keen to support and facilitate sustainable economic growth and this agreement will enable officers to begin the statutory process delivering a Simplified Planning Zone at Peterhead South, in turn bringing a host of potential benefits to the area.

“It is anticipated that it will take approximately 9 – 12 months to adopt an SPZ Scheme with the aim of streamlining the decision making process for businesses seeking to grow or locate within the boundary and helping stimulate economic activity and creating jobs.

ISC agreed officers should begin the statutory process that would allow for the creation of the SPZ. Following consultation on the scheme with key agencies and other relevant stakeholders, including the Buchan Area Committee, the scheme will be referred back to ISC for final determination.

Operation of the SPZ will be reviewed during year three following adoption and the findings will be reported back to ISC for a decision on its continued operation.