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Council Focuses On Trees And Woodlands

24th January 2011

Planning consultations seek views on sustainable design and impact of development on trees and woodland.

An eight-week public consultation gets under way today Monday (24 January 2011) on two new planning documents produced by The Highland Council's Planning Environment and Development Service, which provide guidance on the design of buildings as well the impact of developments on trees and woodland.

The draft Sustainable Design Guide encourages high quality and sustainably-designed buildings which will minimise impacts on the natural environment and help counter the effects of climate change and also promote greater use of local and renewable materials. The key sustainable design issues dealt with in the guide are summarised in a practical Sustainable Design Checklist which all potential developers and architects can use to prepare a Sustainable Design Statement to accompany their planning application.

This new guidance reaffirms the Planning and Development Service's long-standing commitment to helping deliver ustainably designed and constructed buildings throughout the Highland Council area. Taking a sustainable approach to design can make sound business sense for developers as well as providing financial benefits to the occupiers and users of buildings. For example, sensible siting and passive design measures can make the most of the available daylight and add little or nothing to the capital cost of a development, but can help reduce the lifetime costs of heating and lighting the buildings.

Councillor Ian Ross, Chairman of the Council's Planning Environment and Development Committee said: "This new Sustainable Design Guide has been prepared to help encourage and support people and businesses to opt for buildings that are designed to respond to the Highland landscape and the changing climate. High quality and energy efficient sustainably-designed buildings are also essential to help us minimise long-term damage to the natural environment. This is very much part of the Highland Council's clear commitment to promoting sustainable design and construction and builds on the legacy of Scotland's Housing Expo and other initiatives.

"We believe this new Guide will prove to be a useful tool to enable people to produce well-designed, sustainable buildings that fit well in the Highland environment and offer high quality residential and business accommodation".

Copies of the guidance are available on the Council's web-site and the consultation will end on 18 March 2011.

This new and simplified Sustainable Design Guide will replace the existing Designing for Sustainability in the Highlands guidance note, and is one of a number of Supplementary Guidance documents which will provide more detailed information and advice in support of the forthcoming Highland wide Local Development Plan.

The Sustainable Design Guide has been produced with input and assistance from the Cairngorms National Park Authority, and is based on four key sustainable design principles:

1. Conserving and enhancing the character of the Highland area;
2. Using resources efficiently;
3. Minimising the environmental impact of development;
4. Enhancing the viability of Highland communities.

Meanwhile, the detailed guidance on trees and woodland sets down the key considerations to take in to account when considering a planning application. The guidance will be adopted as Statutory Guidance to the forthcoming Highland wide Local Development Plan.

Councillor Ross added: "This new guidance has been prepared to support planning applicants, allowing them to consider the many issues that development in association with trees and development raise. We believe that the guidance will be a very useful tool for all those involved in planning applications. It will also allow planning staff to make quicker and more efficient decisions. I welcome this new guidance and demonstrates the continued commitment of the Planning and Development Service to ensure that tree and woodland values are adequately considered through the planning process to the benefit o both our urban and rural environments."


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