Councillors comment on Local Development Plan

MEMBERS of the Garioch Area Committee met on Tuesday, to hear a report on the recommendations made by the Scottish Government Reporters on the new Aberdeenshire Local Development Plan.

They were also invited to forward an agreed view on the plan which will be discussed in a full meeting of Aberdeenshire Council to be held on Thursday, April 26.

Piers Blaxter from the council’s Planning and Environmental services introduced the recommendations made by the Reporters to members of the committee, saying that they largely agreed with the council, and had only recommended minor modifications. He pointed out that the recommendations were largely binding and that councillors could only suggest additional modifications where the Reporters had suggested modifications.

He added that he hoped the council would be able to formerly adopt the plan in June this year.

The committee was informed that the Reporters had recommended no modifications to the proposed plan.

Future extension is still favoured north and south of the current Scotia Homes site, but unless the school situation changed “development in Insch would remain minor in perpetuity”.

Regarding Inverurie members were told that future development was very dependent on the traffic situation, and in particular the provision of the “Keithhall” eastern by-pass. As this was a long term development, proposals had been made for a Grade Separation Junction located between the Thainstone and Port Elphinstone roundabouts. The situation in Kintore is still dependant on a new Primary School and possibly an Academy in the future. Mr Blaxter told members that a suitable site for either or both had been reserved in a central location.

The committee lastly discussed Newmachar, where the Reporters’ recommendations had caused greatest concern.

Modifications included removing part of the site for housing adjoining Hillbrae Way, and increasing the housing allocation at the site (H1) north-west of the village from 140 units to 165.

The Reporter also stated that it was premature to allocate land for the proposed by-pass until there was more certainty on its delivery and the construction of the AWPR. East Garioch Councillor Fergus Hood said the recommendations had caused Newmachar Community Council “shock and disappointment”. He felt the Reporter “hadn’t taken the communities views into account”. He noted that children going to school from the site north-west of the village would have to cross the busy A947. He concluded that the Reporter had got it “seriously wrong” and that the Committee should challenge the recommendations.

Committee Chair Martin Kitts-Hayes appealed to the East Garioch Councillors to come up with a clear way forward regarding Newmachar but warned against falsely raising the hopes of the local community.

East Garioch Councillor Martin Ford proposed that a report be sought from the Education Committee regarding schooling in Newmachar and that Supplementary Guidance be issued to secure the by-pass and additional school in the next Local Plan.

Councillor Hood said that he was not prepared to wait until 2023 for a by-pass and felt that the committee should challenge the decision of the Reporter.

Chair Councillor Kitts-Hayes expressed disappointment that he had no option but to put the proposals to a vote, but before the vote could be held Councillor Hood said he would be taking no further part in the meeting and left the chamber.