Highland Council agrees new 30-year planning vision



Highland Council has agreed a new thirty-year vision for the future of the region to promote through the Scottish Government’s new National Planning Framework.

Known as the Highland Indicative Regional Spatial Strategy (IRSS for short), it sets out the council’s ideas for how the region can prosper in the period to 2050 and also support the delivery of national priorities and outcomes.

The IRSS is being submitted later this month for Scottish Ministers to consider its inclusion in a new National Planning Framework.

The IRSS is a long term vision which identifies strategic development priorities, outcomes and delivery mechanisms. It comprises a vision statement, a mapped spatial strategy and proposed national developments and regional priorities. In drawing this up, a wide range of partner organisations have been engaged and consulted.

It is intended that the IRSS acts as the regional proposition for the future of the area on the national stage, and should complement current work being led by the council’s recovery board.

The board was established earlier this year to lead and plan the council’s emergence from the lockdown necessitated by the coronavirus pandemic, help coordinate recovery for council services and help provide direction for the council’s partnership with communities and partners to support the region’s return to wellbeing, prosperity and economic success.

Councillor Trish Robertson, chair of the economy and infrastructure committee, said: “This is Highland Council’s proposition for the important role the region can play on the national stage in the coming years.

“A great range of partners contributed to developing the council’s submission to the Scottish Government and for that I thank them, particularly during these past few, difficult months.

“In our submission we are asking Scottish Government to acknowledge Highland’s unique position on the national stage – its significant scale, infrastructure and assets that support the wider Highlands and Islands region, and its important role in helping Scotland meet its Climate Change targets. We think this would justify Highland being identified as a special case for investment and coordination to ensure that this is maintained.”

In discussion, members reflected on the aim for a green, circular economy and recognised that this provides real opportunity for addressing both the climate and ecological emergency and the need for economic recovery in tandem.

The council will be asking the Scottish Government to invest in Highland communities in a fair and equitable way, for example by further implementing digital connectivity to support rural growth and their ambition for rural re-population.

The council also agreed that the Highland IRSS is just the start of the process and collaboration with communities and partner agencies will be key.



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