Economics Can Outweigh Policy; WHO'S PLANNING WHAT? PLANNING APPLICATIONS Ward Hadaway Law Firm

Article excerpt

Byline: DAVID BROCKLEHURST

ARECENT case has emphasised the importance of material considerations to the outcome of planning applications.

The case in point is the Scottish Government granting outline planning permission to US billionaire Donald Trump for his controversial development plans at Balmedie in Aberdeenshire.

Although this case was considered in Scotland, it provides substantial evidence that development can be allowed even when it appears to conflict with planning policy. In this case, the material consideration given weight by the Scottish Government was the economic benefits of the scheme.

The Trump development proposal includes a golf resort with two 18-hole golf courses, 950 holiday apartments, 500 homes and a 450-bedroom luxury hotel. The proposal - having initially been refused planning permission by Aberdeenshire Council committee - was called in by the Scottish Government.

The planning application involved a number of complex issues and saw a vigorous fight between the environmental lobbyists and those keener to see the economic benefits of the potential development.

Part of the development will be situated on a site of Special Scientific Interest, protecting the local sand dune system and wildlife.

However, the Scottish Government decided that in the current economic climate, the social and financial factors, such as an estimated 6,000 jobs created in the local community and a predicted huge increase in tourism to the area, were of such importance as to outweigh the negative environmental factors. This determination has been met with varied responses. Scottish Green Party MSP Patrick Harvie has suggested that the actions of the SNP Government were effectively "signing the death warrant for a unique and irreplaceable part of Scotland's environment."

However, the decision has been met with support from a number of business leaders and councillors within the community who have suggested that the increase in jobs and tourism will significantly benefit the area.

Before the development can proceed further, more detailed plans will have to be made by the Trump Corporation and subsequently approved by Aberdeenshire Council. …