The first formal meeting of the newly convened planning sub-group of the Tiree Community Council met at 7pm on Tuesday 26th January 2021, via Zoom. The meeting was open to the public having been notified on our website in advance.
Present: Phyl Meyer (Chairing), John Patience, Stewart Carr
Apologies: Louise Reid, Iona Campbell
In attendance from the public: 1 member, by phone
It was noted that Louise had been unable to attend due to a meeting clash, and Iona had given apologies. Phyl also noted that while happy to chair to facilitate he was very busy at work lately and as a result very tired, and would be happy to take more of a backseat in the discussion! Phyl also suggested that it might be useful to consider seeking some volunteers from the community to join the sub-committee as non-councillor members/advisors – this would be selective/targeted rather than just by an open call. John agreed, suggesting a mix of relevant professional expertise and direct lived experience within key elements of the community (e.g. crofting) would be ideal. Further thought to be given to this and ideas for people to suggest brought back.
1. Planning process outline
Stewart presented a paper he had prepared which summarised the planning process as it is relevant to us as a Community Council. Some clarifying points offered by John on one or two points.
2. Statutory Consultee Process
Continuing with his paper Stewart outlined briefly how TCCs role functions as a “statutory consultee” within the planning process of Argyll and Bute Council (and beyond), with further comments added by John. Focus was directed on the importance of understanding how we determine what matters are “material” – meaning legally relevant to a response to an application, and therefore where we should focus our energies.
Further discussion of the document at this point focussed on the zoning that is in place in the Local Development Plan for Tiree and Coll, the key areas on the map that are helpful for this subject are the “Settlement” areas (presumption in favour of housing development), the “countryside” areas (presumption AGAINST housing development and the “Rural opportunity areas” (essentially where it’s a “maybe”). Suggestion that we’d expect not usually to need to get involved in applications for the first of these, always for the second (unless it’s specifically for a croft house, where there is specific provision for this), and usually for the third (except for croft houses).
We could of course be asked to or minded to oppose or to support applications depending on the potential impacts on the community. Also important to be aware of areas of archaeological significance, environmental protection, etc. Not likely to need or want to get involved in such things as domestic alterations (minor extensions, etc) but more likely to get involved with listed building applications, etc. There is guidance available which we should have reference to which helps identify what would be considered to “have an impact” and obviously we take account of the views of community on that as well.
Another key test on if we should get involved is if an application is a “departure from the Local Plan” – again this might then be something we could either be minded to oppose or, in fact, to support if there are good arguments for the community to allow the exception.
Discussion about how we take account of considerations of immediate short term impact/views and balance/reflect this with longer term impacts/precedent setting – (e.g. “OK this one might be OK, but what if 20 more applications like this come along in the next five years). For these issues, feeding into the setting of the Local Development Plan would be key.
General agreement that it would be helpful to develop something of a “checklist” or chart to follow to assess an application in a clear way to determine relevance – akin to a risk assessment. Agreed that the sub-committee should consider further how we assess “impact to the community” in relation to such a process.
ACTION – Stewart to add further details to the paper, Stewart and John to lead on developing further ideas around capturing a draft “process” for consideration at future meetings.
Phyl suggested it would be well worth trying to see if we can find existing material on this developed by other Community Councils. John agreed and stated that he would contact Cumbrae and Mull CCs to ask what they have. Phyl suggested also contacting the Scotland-wide Community Council support service (run by the Improvement Service).
ACTION: John to contact the above three places to see what he can find.
3. Establishing a response mandate from the community
Due to two members not being present who the others felt would have particular contributions to make to this point, it was agreed to postpone this area to the next meeting.