Affordable housing gets go-ahead in Insch

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PLANS for a residential development of 22 low cost homes and five mainstream houses at the site of the former mart at Old Mart Road, Insch was approved by the Garioch Area Committee at a meeting held on Tuesday (August 25).

The application, by Scotia Homes as per Michael Gilmour Associates, was brought before the committee as it had generated 19 letters of representation. These expressed concerns regarding traffic and road safety; the density of housing on the site; that the design and layout is not in keeping with the surrounding areas; the additional demands on the infrastructure of Insch including the Health Centre and school; that the proposed SUDS basin would be a safety hazard and insufficient car parking.

West Garioch Councillor Sheena Lonchay expressed concerns regarding the safety of the SUDS basin located nearby that would handle surface drainage water from the site. In particular she asked if the Council’s Planning and Environmental Services had approached the developer to provide fencing around the basin. She was informed that although water from the site would drain into the basin, it was not part of the proposed development and was not in ownership of the developer. Councillor Lonchay said that surely the two developers could get together to put up a fence claiming it was not “rocket science”. Although the basin was located in land not in the applicant, Scotia Homes, control, and the committee was unable to impose a condition on the application, Committee Chair Martin Kitts-Hayes asked Area Planning Officer Darren Ross if there was anything that the committee could do to make the basin safer. It was agreed that the Planning Department would negotiate with the developer to ensure the basin was fenced off to allay local concerns.

Councillor Lonchay also asked if the emergency access that will be formed between Old Mart Avenue and Willowbank Place could also be opened to pedestrian access, which was agreed.

Responding to a question by fellow West Garioch Councillor Allison Grant as to why the housing on the site had been changed from wholly affordable to a partial number of affordable units, Planning Officer Darren Ross said that this had been agreed with the developer due to the change in the economic climate since initial plans were submitted. Councillor Grant also asked the Planning Department if the wording in future applications could be made clearer and simpler to make it easier for committee members and members of the public to understand.

The committee agreed to recommend the granting of full planning permission for the development, subject to conditions.