Aberdeenshire Council has adopted its Local Development Plan, only the third local authority in Scotland to do so under new planning law.
Scottish Ministers have confirmed they do not require any modification to the document, paving the way for its everyday use as a planning blueprint.
This marks the end of a four-year process which has included two major consultation exercises attracting over 6,000 detailed responses, as well as more than 20 committee meetings and a public examination by Government reporters.
In April, Aberdeenshire Council resolved to adopt the Aberdeenshire Local Development Plan and its associated supplementary guidance on June 1, subject to modifications which may have been required by Ministers.
Ministers were then given a copy of the plan and the reporters’ report. They had the option under the Town and Country Planning etc (Scotland) Act 2006 to issue a direction requiring the council to modify the plan.
Ministers have now confirmed they do not propose to issue such a direction for the plan or associated Supplementary Guidance.
The Aberdeenshire Local Plan 2006 has now been replaced by the Aberdeenshire Local Development Plan 2012 and its associated supplementary guidance.
There is still the possibility of a formal legal challenge in the Court of Session for a six week period following adoption.
Such a challenge would have to be made on the grounds that processes associated with the plan have not been complied with.
Chairman of Aberdeenshire Council’s Infrastructure Services Committee (ISC), Peter Argyle, said: “This plan is a true reflection of how the previous council worked together and with our communities to ensure that Aberdeenshire remains the best in Scotland.
“It represents a fitting legacy for that council and one I am sure the new council will adopt and implement, while at the same time undertaking the work necessary to extend the plan’s vision for the period beyond 2017.”
At a meeting of ISC Councillor Argyle told colleagues Scottish Ministers were happy the plan be adopted.
“My pleasure in seeing the plan adopted is tinged with regret that there are some issues the previous council would have preferred to have seen changed from the Reporter’s recommendations, but because the law is clear on this matter, we were unable to challenge.
“Ministers must recognise that, at the end of the day, the development plan is a matter of local negotiation and democracy.”
Officers will be making a submission to the Government on the matter, and will be recommending a series of specific actions that could be undertaken to make the process more efficient.