Scrapping planning rules could bring millions of pounds and jobs to north-east port

Proposals to scrap planning regulations could bring tens of millions of pounds of investment and jobs to the north-east’s biggest town.

Members of Aberdeenshire’s infrastructure committee will meet today to consider creating a simplified planning zone (SPZ) in the south of Peterhead to show the port is open for business.

A similar scheme at Hillington Park near Glasgow prompted around £20million of investment and has led to the creation of a “motorbike village” with sales rooms for Ducati and Harley Davidson as well as dozens of jobs

The initiative has been proposed by the Energetica, the team which is striving to boost investment along the Buchan coast.

Manager James Welsh has said the policy removes the “planning hurdle” and lets businesses push ahead with construction.

Last night Jamie Cumming, the director of Hillington Park, said: “Our SPZ status means that new developments like the ‘motorbike village’ with Ducati Glasgow, Triumph Glasgow and West Coast Harley-Davidson as well as Lookers plc’s new Volvo and Jaguar showrooms and our own Evolution Court manufacturing and logistics development can be accelerated with an anticipated build time of just 10 months.”

Mr Cumming added the SPZ also benefits firms already based inside its boundaries.

The proposals have been welcomed in the Buchan area ahead of a final decision by councillors.

Conrad Ritchie, managing director of oil and gas engineering firm Score Europe, said: “I would support such a scheme provided it reduced the cost and time burden on the current planning application system.”

And north-east Conservative MSP Peter Chapman added: “One of the common complaints from business is that the planning system can be slow and difficult to navigate.

“This type of initiative would encourage inward investment by simplifying the process for commercial development in a designated area and should be warmly welcomed.”

Peterhead councillors considered the SPZ last year and sent a report to the infrastructure committee for final approval with their full support.

If approved, the zone could last for 10 years. The scheme is at an early stage and the guidelines as to which types of development would and would not comply with the streamlined regulations have not been agreed.