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Tom_Doak

  • Karma: +1/-1
Re: Keiser's Coul Links Project (Embo/Dornoch)
« Reply #1025 on: March 07, 2020, 06:09:30 PM »

If they pulled the course west (completely) off the SSSI then it would have absolutely made a difference. The trouble is you have a weaker course and in the end, itís really difficult to accept that for most developers and architects.


I remember Mike Wood (GCA and environmentalist) offered up an alternative routing at Balmedie that still used a lot of dune land, just not the mobile and unusual dunes. Clearly not accepted as a possible solution


Best example was probably at Doonbeg where they had to exclude 55 acres of the best land due to SAC flora and fauna.




Ally's got this.


Trump's course could have been built while avoiding the area of mobile dunes that was considered so sensitive.  It might have been even better had he tried to use all of the best land for one course.  But, he made the argument that he had to build in the mobile dunes in order to make room for two courses, in order to maximize the purported economic benefits to the community. 


My guess is that Mr. Trump would have happily compromised and settled for one course, if asked -- he's a negotiator, after all -- but HE WAS NEVER ASKED.  Instead, the planners rejected the proposal, and then the government overruled them and gave him the green light for 36 holes, without negotiating that point.


My sense is that because of that history, the planners at Coul were predisposed to reject the proposed course for its impact on the SSSI.  They signaled as much with their comments on the plan, and from what I've heard, they were upset when the plan came back with lots of verbiage but no real changes to the footprint.


I have not followed this whole saga very closely, so I have no idea how early in the process the planners' "red lines" were clearly expressed.  I know that it sucks to have to keep stepping backwards from your ideal design because of further planning input you didn't expect, so usually, I try my hardest to get all of the red lines on paper before I start getting attached to particular golf holes. 


It's possible that, if that approach had been tried from the beginning, the architect and developer would have decided that the project that would be allowed wasn't worth doing, and saved themselves a lot of time and headaches.  Or, they might have succeeded in negotiating with the planners on certain points, and wound up with a plan acceptable to both sides.  But when you put a plan in for approval that the planners have objected to, you can't be too surprised when they say no.

Adrian_Stiff

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Keiser's Coul Links Project (Embo/Dornoch)
« Reply #1026 on: March 07, 2020, 06:54:50 PM »
A question for Adrian & Niall -
 
Are the elected local/regional/national governments in Scotland obliged by law to accept the judgements of their planning staffs of civil servants at face value and being the final word? Do they have the legal authority to alter/amend or even reject those judgements?
Planning law is often too one dimensional. The rules don't always make sense to a particular project and have been set far more generally. The planning dept does not have a specialist golf department and that does mean that sometimes you have to really understand the PPGs and what they mean, very early you can realise one bullet is going to beat you and you can't dodge that bullet. Planning officers themselves can mis-interpret those guidelines, even the planning fee varies from council to council as they bracket applications differently. I have had two opinions on an access and the assistant said NO and his boss said YES.


If you put in an application for a new 9 holes or a driving range it would likely be deemed small and would be determined by a case officer and how he sees the application v planning law. If the case officers call is agreed by the 'planning committee' the application gets determined by that case officer under delegated powers, usually you will know this and be informed there is not a problem but it is never in tablets of stone until you get that tick. If the application has lots of objections or some PPGs are broken but mitigated or maybe unmitigated the stronger case for the application to be determined by that planning committee. If the PPGs are serious and unmitigated the application will fail but if they are almost mitigated and the level of knowledge is not enough at that level to determine the balance they go to expert help which is outside the region.


Working in land designated SSSI is very difficult, but there are ways you can work. The key would be not moving soil. You have to understand the rules of a site of special scientific interest and obviously work around that, extremely frustrating for a golf course architect when the best golf land is the bit you cant use.


You have a right of appeal, whereby a minister (higher expert) will look at the case and cast his finger in your favour or against and there are methods where you can find a solution by mediation or the 'judge' will give you some guidance what could be accepted. Sometimes you can be awarded costs as well if it is felt that the decision was wrong.


The appeal is once again strictly tried against those planning permission guidelines and the decisions become 'new' planning law and can be used by others when they make applications, just like case law.


It is that reason why some things are not granted....it just opens the door so they have to think of other impacts.


If Trump did a good/bad job or stated things that would happen that did not should not impact the ultimate decision. It is very common in planning applications to over state the amount of jobs created or economic plusses.
« Last Edit: March 07, 2020, 07:07:55 PM by Adrian_Stiff »
A combination of whats good for golf and good for turf.
The Players Club, Cumberwell Park, The Kendleshire, Oake Manor, Dainton Park, Forest Hills, Erlestoke, St Cleres.
www.theplayersgolfclub.com

David_Tepper

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Keiser's Coul Links Project (Embo/Dornoch)
« Reply #1027 on: March 07, 2020, 07:52:13 PM »
Adrian -
Thanks very much for your thorough answer to my question. I appreciate it.
DT

Niall C

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Keiser's Coul Links Project (Embo/Dornoch)
« Reply #1028 on: March 08, 2020, 10:13:13 AM »
Adrian


Presumably that advice is for England because there is much of what you say that isn't the way things work in Scotland.


To generalise and without going into too much detail, with certain exceptions planning officers report to the Planning Committee which is made up of elected Councillors. They make a recommendation to the Committee based on the application and how it relates to the Local Development plan. In the vast majority of occasions the Committee goes with the planning officers recommendation and either approves or rejects the application.


If rejected, the applicant can appeal. The appeal is to the Scottish Ministers (ie. the relevant government politician), who then appoints a Reporter to consider the appeal. The Reporter is basically an experienced planning official who deals with appeals. The Reporter then reports his findings to the Scottish Minister who then makes his decision. The Scottish Minister is not bound by the Reporters findings in the same way the Planning Committee weren't bound by the planning officers recommendations.


In instances where an application has been approved at Planning Committee and that application is contrary to the planning guidance (Local Development Plan, Structure Plan, PPG) and it is important enough an issue, then the Scottish Minister can "call-in" in the application for final determination, and that is what happened at Embo. That usually only happens where their is a national interest such as in this situation ie. SSSI, Ramsar designation.


Having now been turned down by Scottish Ministers they can appeal to the Court of Session but only on restricted grounds.


Niall 

Niall C

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Keiser's Coul Links Project (Embo/Dornoch)
« Reply #1029 on: March 08, 2020, 10:17:24 AM »
Tom


I think you will find that Trump was asked to move his course by the planning officers but he refused and they had to consider his application as he presented it. The planning committee could of course have granted consent subject to conditions and one of those conditions could have been to build the course on less sensitive land but not sure how competent that would have been if the red line boundary of the application didn't include that less sensitive land.


When all's said and done, the Council basically blinked first.


Niall

Niall C

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Keiser's Coul Links Project (Embo/Dornoch)
« Reply #1030 on: March 08, 2020, 10:22:48 AM »
Niall,

As I see it, seems this was a missed opportunity because the proposal appeared to be best case scenario.

- Proven developer in Mike K with a well established track record of doing projects like this and getting it right.
- Proven course designers also with a lengthy resume of building natural, minimal impact, high quality golf courses
- Near unanimous buy in from the local and regional leadership
- Very high approval % from the local and regional citizens
- Developer willing to commit to conservation efforts in the immediate area.

Not that it was perfect, but i'm not sure how the proposal could have been improved....and yet still turned down.


Kalen


The issue here is not the personality of the developer or the capability of the architect, it is that the area they looked to develop was of such a sensitive nature. The planning guidance more or less said "F*ck off and don't even think about it !!". And yet they gave it a go.


What you and others don't seem to grasp is that the land is best left alone. Overlaying it with 60 or 70 acres of finely manicured lawn is akin to planting conifers everywhere. Imagine trying to build a golf course at Yosemite and saying we need to knock down 150 acres of redwoods but don't worry you've got plenty of others, and we'll be very nice about what grass we use.


Niall

Kalen Braley

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Keiser's Coul Links Project (Embo/Dornoch)
« Reply #1031 on: March 08, 2020, 04:40:08 PM »
Niall,

I've been to Yosemite as well as most of the other National Parks in the Western Part of the US and they are all very unique to not just the US, but the world.  Granted, I've only seen this area in pictures, but comparing that piece of land to a one-of-a-kind amazing valley like Yosemite seems beyond absurd.

P.S.  Would you agree with Lou's assessment:

"Re: Coul Links, my several hours on the site changed my first impression from the road, but only moderately.  If it is an important site of scientific interest, then most of coastal Scotland is as well."

Ian also claims that place was basically ignored prior to 2015, exactly how special can it be?
« Last Edit: March 08, 2020, 04:46:54 PM by Kalen Braley »

Jon Wiggett

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Keiser's Coul Links Project (Embo/Dornoch)
« Reply #1032 on: March 09, 2020, 04:20:54 AM »
Tom


I think you will find that Trump was asked to move his course by the planning officers but he refused and they had to consider his application as he presented it. The planning committee could of course have granted consent subject to conditions and one of those conditions could have been to build the course on less sensitive land but not sure how competent that would have been if the red line boundary of the application didn't include that less sensitive land.


When all's said and done, the Council basically blinked first.


Niall



Niall,


FYI the council refused planning. It was the Scottish Government that overruled them and passed the plan.


As for your picture of the planning system. There is an assumption against allowing development in a SSSI but this is far from the
[size=0.85em]"F*ck off and don't even think about it !!" that. that you claim. Indeed by following the planning process they were successful in getting it through planning. The action of the SG was purely political and not to do with planning law which is as it is intended to be.[/font][/size][/font]
[/size][/color]
[size=0.85em][/size][/color]
[/size][/color]
[size=0.85em]Jon[/font][/size][/font]

Niall C

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Keiser's Coul Links Project (Embo/Dornoch)
« Reply #1033 on: March 09, 2020, 04:36:39 AM »
Kalen

Sadly I've not been to Yosemite and that is my loss. But from what I understand the scenery and the landscape is quite spectacular as is the flora and fauna. The flora and fauna at Embo might not be as spectacular, at least in a visual sense but it has been assessed by people with the skillset and experience as being important and if not unique, rare enough to protect. It is maybe unfortunate for areas such as this that what makes them special isn't so visually obvious as a huge redwood tree as that would make them easier to defend.

And with all due respect to my good friend Lou, and I do mean the respect bit BTW, he's not really qualified to make that judgement and neither am I for that matter. That is why it is left to those that are qualified to judge. I'm content to accept that judgement. That's why we have the planning system.

With regards the assertion that "the place was ignored until 2015" that patently is not true. I can't say off hand how long the site has had it's SSSI and Ramsar designation but it is well before 2015. The area was also subject to a lease from one of the conservation bodies if I remember correctly. What I think you should also realise is that the land is protected not so much by ownership but by its planning designation. That I think is the real problem here, folk in the US seem to be conflating how things work over there to how they work here.

Finally Ian made another assertion about the golf industry and its importance to Scotland. He said it was the no.1 industry in the country. Golf is a small but significant part of the tourism sector in this country and while tourism is an important and well developed sector of the economy contributing 5% of GDP, saying golf is the no. 1 industry in the country is like saying I'm the best golfer in the world.

Niall (8 handicap)

Niall C

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Keiser's Coul Links Project (Embo/Dornoch)
« Reply #1034 on: March 09, 2020, 04:43:44 AM »
Jon

The Trump application was refused at the planning committee when the chairman cast the deciding vote to refuse the application. Clearly the chairman was against the project but it is also convention for the chairman to come down on the side of "status quo" when a vote is tied.

All decisions made by the planning committee require to be ratified by the full Council ie. all the Councillors. A majority of Councillors made it known that they were going to vote against the Planning Committee decision and that is when the Government stepped in so even though technically the application wasn't approved at the planning committee it was likely to have been supported at the full Council. Frankly I'm not sure of the procedure there, whether they send it back to Planning to reconsider or whether they can make the decision for them.

Niall

Sean_A

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Keiser's Coul Links Project (Embo/Dornoch)
« Reply #1035 on: March 09, 2020, 05:24:41 AM »
Niall

I am not sure you are correct regarding the Aberdeen application. My understanding is the planning committee had delegated powers to make planning decisions on behalf of the Council, which is very common for local planning authorities. I could be wrong though.

Ciao
« Last Edit: March 10, 2020, 04:15:39 AM by Sean_A »
New plays planned for 2023: Cardigan, St David's City, Panmure, Kinghorn, Harrogate, Hinckley, Robin Hood, Sandiway & Ladybank

Adrian_Stiff

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Keiser's Coul Links Project (Embo/Dornoch)
« Reply #1036 on: March 09, 2020, 05:42:32 AM »
Niall


Yes I was talking about the English planning method but Scotland is very much the same, the broad principles of working in sensitive areas are identical.


You can have an army of tanks and guns versus the council but you won't beat the 'pea shooter' if they have the law on their side.


There is still the feeling on these pages from some that good guys with track records can over-ride the law. Getting planning is about ticking the boxes, if you can tick them and your name is Adolf Hitler you get planning.
A combination of whats good for golf and good for turf.
The Players Club, Cumberwell Park, The Kendleshire, Oake Manor, Dainton Park, Forest Hills, Erlestoke, St Cleres.
www.theplayersgolfclub.com

Niall C

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Keiser's Coul Links Project (Embo/Dornoch)
« Reply #1037 on: March 09, 2020, 05:55:37 AM »
Adrian

Agreed. It does appear there is a different way of doing things between UK and US. Neither is necessarily right or wrong but it's frustrating when some folk are unable or unwilling to respect the difference.

Niall

Jon Wiggett

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Keiser's Coul Links Project (Embo/Dornoch)
« Reply #1038 on: March 09, 2020, 11:50:12 AM »
Jon

The Trump application was refused at the planning committee when the chairman cast the deciding vote to refuse the application. Clearly the chairman was against the project but it is also convention for the chairman to come down on the side of "status quo" when a vote is tied.

All decisions made by the planning committee require to be ratified by the full Council ie. all the Councillors. A majority of Councillors made it known that they were going to vote against the Planning Committee decision and that is when the Government stepped in so even though technically the application wasn't approved at the planning committee it was likely to have been supported at the full Council. Frankly I'm not sure of the procedure there, whether they send it back to Planning to reconsider or whether they can make the decision for them.

Niall



But at the end of the day the council rejected the application regardless of by how many. As you point out yourself the main council never voted on it. It is a stretch to say the least to call that blinking. On the reverse side with Coul the application went through the correct planning procedure following the 'law' and was passed unanimously so to suggest getting a planning application approved in a SSSI is also clearly wrong.


Jon

Kalen Braley

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Keiser's Coul Links Project (Embo/Dornoch)
« Reply #1039 on: March 09, 2020, 11:59:11 AM »
Niall,

I think part of the confusion is what "protected" means here in the US, especially when it comes to National Parks.  They are actively monitored and maintained with strict rules and fines/arrests for the worst offenders vs what appears to be the "Set it and Forget it" UK model.

So the disconnect is the claim that the land is critically important, but seemingly little to no follow up or resources devoted to actually protecting its physical integrity on a semi-regular basis.



Adrian_Stiff

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Keiser's Coul Links Project (Embo/Dornoch)
« Reply #1040 on: March 09, 2020, 12:05:28 PM »
Kalen


Protecting land often means doing nothing to it and letting it find its own way.


One thing for the UK which has gone general for all golf courses is the banning of a lot more pesticides and insectides....basically a lot of golf courses won't be able to be kept in as good a condition.
A combination of whats good for golf and good for turf.
The Players Club, Cumberwell Park, The Kendleshire, Oake Manor, Dainton Park, Forest Hills, Erlestoke, St Cleres.
www.theplayersgolfclub.com

Ian Mackenzie

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Keiser's Coul Links Project (Embo/Dornoch)
« Reply #1041 on: March 09, 2020, 12:25:43 PM »
Kalen


Protecting land often means doing nothing to it and letting it find its own way.


One thing for the UK which has gone general for all golf courses is the banning of a lot more pesticides and insectides....basically a lot of golf courses won't be able to be kept in as good a condition.


I think there's also some differences, too, in the US and how "private property" is handled.


Coul has been owned by the same family for literally hundreds of years.
I have walked the property for at least 10 hours. Have never been aware of any "conservation" occurring there, but I may have missed it.


In a CRAZY coincidence, I was a Chicago store yesterday with my wife and we engaged the store manager in pleasant conversation.


Turned out it was one Ben Crenshaw's daughters.


Go figure...

Niall C

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Keiser's Coul Links Project (Embo/Dornoch)
« Reply #1042 on: March 09, 2020, 01:11:00 PM »
Ian

In your ten hours on site, if you didn't obliterate the existing flora and fauna by building a golf course on top of it then you were indeed conserving the site  :)

Jon

When the planning officers advised/suggested to Trump that he redesign his proposed course away from the sensitive areas, he declined. When the planning committee refused the application he didn't make a move, he waited. From what I recall not even a tweet. The councillors as a whole got into a tizzy and were preparing/plotting to overturn the planning committee decision as I said and I strongly suspect overtures were made to the Scottish Government to call it in which they did. All the time Trump sat and waited.

As I said the Council blinked first.

Niall

Tom_Doak

  • Karma: +1/-1
Re: Keiser's Coul Links Project (Embo/Dornoch)
« Reply #1043 on: March 09, 2020, 01:35:02 PM »
Adrian

Agreed. It does appear there is a different way of doing things between UK and US. Neither is necessarily right or wrong but it's frustrating when some folk are unable or unwilling to respect the difference.

Niall


The main difference is that in the USA, outside of National Parks or state parks or whatever, there is nothing similar to an SSSI designation.  We have laws to protect wetlands and to protect endangered species and so forth, but there is no official map of areas which are off limits to development because of those -- each project is treated on a case by case basis when proposed.

Sean_A

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Keiser's Coul Links Project (Embo/Dornoch)
« Reply #1044 on: March 09, 2020, 02:18:01 PM »
Niall

To be fair, UK planning is far from black and white. New Local Plans and updates are always in the pipeline. Interpretation of regulations are often different depending on a current planning committee members and case officers. Plus, loads of local authorities want to avoid appeals because they are under-staffed as it is. Even pressure points from government seem to change fairly often. Its a bloody nightmare trying to keep up.

Ciao
New plays planned for 2023: Cardigan, St David's City, Panmure, Kinghorn, Harrogate, Hinckley, Robin Hood, Sandiway & Ladybank

Lou_Duran

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Keiser's Coul Links Project (Embo/Dornoch)
« Reply #1045 on: March 09, 2020, 10:35:25 PM »
Niall,


You speak of respect, which I think is key here.  At some point in time, your federal government rendered the Coul Links site essentially useless to its owners.  To the best of my knowledge, no compensation was paid for the taking of their rights.  Adding insult to injury, the government did nothing to protect the land from dumping, contamination, and the ongoing degradation over the many years of neglect.


My POV is philosophical as well as practical.  If the collective does not respect the individual, why would the individual not reciprocate?  I can understand why a society does not protect unpopular minority interests.  But you are right, though I accept its ability to do so, I can't respect it.


The practical side, the result, is what we see in similar regimes here in the US, the out migration of working people and the slow loss of vitality.  A society which does not respect private property rights is doomed to mediocrity and decay; the tragedy of the commons on a grand scale.

https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-scotland-50124333


Jon Wiggett

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Keiser's Coul Links Project (Embo/Dornoch)
« Reply #1046 on: March 10, 2020, 02:24:03 AM »
Ian

In your ten hours on site, if you didn't obliterate the existing flora and fauna by building a golf course on top of it then you were indeed conserving the site  :)

Jon

When the planning officers advised/suggested to Trump that he redesign his proposed course away from the sensitive areas, he declined. When the planning committee refused the application he didn't make a move, he waited. From what I recall not even a tweet. The councillors as a whole got into a tizzy and were preparing/plotting to overturn the planning committee decision as I said and I strongly suspect overtures were made to the Scottish Government to call it in which they did. All the time Trump sat and waited.

As I said the Council blinked first.

Niall



Niall,


suspect is not definite proof.  If a majority of the councillors were going to pass the application then why would they secretly ask the SG to call it in? Where is the solid evidence to back up the claim you make?


It is much more likely that the SG called in the application due to pressure from Trump.


Jon

Niall C

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Keiser's Coul Links Project (Embo/Dornoch)
« Reply #1047 on: March 10, 2020, 04:13:27 AM »
Jon,

I'm speaking from memory and haven't kept any press cuttings if that is what you mean. Similarly it didn't get to full Council for ratification because the SG had already called it in. So on that count I have no hard evidence to show you but if you care to some digging of articles from the time there was more than enough comment from Councillors to back up what I'm saying.

One other thing, when have you ever known a planning decision to be called-in when the application had already been rejected by the local planning committee because it contravened planning regs ? I can't recall another instance and neither can any planner I've spoken to.

Niall
« Last Edit: March 10, 2020, 04:16:05 AM by Niall C »

Sean_A

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Keiser's Coul Links Project (Embo/Dornoch)
« Reply #1048 on: March 10, 2020, 04:16:36 AM »
Adrian

Agreed. It does appear there is a different way of doing things between UK and US. Neither is necessarily right or wrong but it's frustrating when some folk are unable or unwilling to respect the difference.

Niall

I think the systems are very similar.

Kalen

"Protected" land in the UK under the guise of all sorts of labels which originated from different sources in planning terms simply means there is an assumption against most types of development. Tom is incorrect above when he stated above the Trump application made planners predisposed against planning of that sort. Planners are already predisposed against planning of that type. Council Members are a different matter. They are decision makers, not planners. On many occasion I have watched Members vote against case officer recommendation. From a planner PoV this decision often leads directly to planners worrying about an appeal. So the wording and justification for the decision is extremely important.

Ciao
« Last Edit: March 10, 2020, 04:29:41 AM by Sean_A »
New plays planned for 2023: Cardigan, St David's City, Panmure, Kinghorn, Harrogate, Hinckley, Robin Hood, Sandiway & Ladybank

Ben Stephens

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Keiser's Coul Links Project (Embo/Dornoch)
« Reply #1049 on: March 10, 2020, 06:22:22 AM »
Having briefly looked through the thread. From experience planning is a murky area there are always contrasting interpretations from different planning departments and having inexperienced people (local councillors with no planning or architecture/design experience) representing planning committees plus different interpretations at personal, local and national levels. It is like a game that to have to adapt to others/other rules to enable to get it approved.


I have got planning for a 18 hole golf course in a SSSI however compared with Coul it was a lot easier to achieve as the site was not that sensitive compared with Coul and there was very little objections whereas Coul had many objections some from a National Association level. The question I have is how much the planning consultant and golf course designer communicate with the planners early on what can be done, what can't be done and what is required for me that is the key. It could have been a case of a bull in a China Shop thinking that they can get planning based on Trump Aberdeen precedent.


For Trump Aberdeen whatever agreement between Trump and then then First Minister to get it approved whether it was a really sensitive site or not does not smell right to me.


Going back to Coul - I wonder if there were alternative routings considered away from the sensitive areas to enable the client to produce a golf course in this area to generate potential income for the town. There is always a fine balance between commercial reality and nature in this respect. The objectors got their way in which the planning application was done in the right procedure all the way up to ministerial level unlike the another course.   


The planning system in the UK however good or bad it is does lack consistency overall as there are many different interpretations of the rules. It is not a perfect system and we don't live in a perfect world either!
« Last Edit: March 10, 2020, 06:55:48 AM by Ben Stephens »

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