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North East Strategic Transport Fund Quashed

1st June 2016

A recent successful challenge in the Court of Session by two North East developers will have significant ramifications for the North East and implications for elsewhere in Scotland.

The Strategic Transport Fund, introduced by Aberdeen City and Shire Strategic Development Planning Authority (SDPA), sought contributions to address the cumulative impact on the transport network of the significant scale of development planned for the Aberdeen City Region.

The cost of mitigating the cumulative impacts would be spread across a wide area with no single development being responsible for the entire cost of a specific transport infrastructure improvement. Payable as a “roof tax” there would inevitably be some winners and losers in this approach.

The Supplementary Guidance (SG) was challenged on the basis that it failed to comply with Scottish Government Circular 3/2012; Planning Obligations and Good Neighbour Agreements. The developers argued that it lacked a direct relationship between the level of contributions sought and the impact of development. The Court of Session accepted this and quashed the guidance considering it to be unlawful.

The SG has been in place since 2012 and by September last year contributions in excess of £20 million had been agreed in relation to the fund with £1.7 million having already been paid into the fund. The consequences of the Court of Session decision are therefore significant.

The SDPA has now appealed the decision to the Supreme Court but already applications have been submitted by others to vary or discharge their Section 75 obligations. These are likely to remain undetermined pending the outcome of the appeal process. Should that appeal be dismissed more applications will inevitably follow.

The outcome, and response to it, will no doubt be followed closely by Authorities across Scotland not least in Fife and Perth & Kinross where similar schemes operate.

For more detailed advice on this or any other planning issue please contact

Categories Blog Planning

John Findlay

John joined Ryden as a Partner in 2004 and established Planning Consultancy services in the North East of Scotland.  He was previously a Partner in the Architectural and Town Planning Consultancy of Jenkins & Marr and has over 40 years experience of planning in both the private and public sectors.

Since joining Ryden he has consolidated and expanded his client base to make Ryden the foremost planning consultancy in the North East of Scotland and one of the largest in Scotland.

He has secured planning permissions for major business and residential developments through both planning applications and public inquiries and has significant experience as an expert witness.

John is a member of a number of public/private sector liaison groups including the award-winning Trinity Group in Aberdeen.

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