Expansion for Mathers

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AN application to extend the slaughterhouse at Mathers Meat Ltd, North Street, Inverurie to accommodate a “hide store”, which was recommended for refusal by Aberdeenshire Council’s Planning Authority was recommended for approval, following a vote, at the recent meeting of the Garioch Area Committee on Tuesday, (October 4).

The application was deferred at the committee’s meeting in September to allow members to visit the site. It had been recommended by refusal by the council’s Planning Authority due to the loss of a section of public open space, but had been brought before the committee at the request of

Inverurie and District Councillors Martin Kitts-Hayes, Bryan Stuart and Richard Cowling in order to “allow members to take a view on whether this proposed development will have a significant adverse affect on the amenity and character of the existing public open space and surrounding area”, and to assess the impact on in relation to nearby Strathburn Primary School and the traffic situation during term time.

Two letters of representation regarding the application were received raising concerns regarding increased industrial vehicle traffic, concerns about the loss of public open space, concerns about odours and that the proposal was not in keeping with the surrounding area.

The Planning Service informed the committee that the extension would be built on 233 square metres of “open space” adjacent to the existing Mathers facility, and that this space formed part of a larger buffer between housing and the industrial site and the new extension would access on to Old Chapel Road.

Inverurie and District Councillor Mike Raeburn asked if the land was in ownership of Mathers and was told that it was. He said he understood why the applicant wanted to build the extension but also didn’t think that the committee should approve. He noted that the slaughterhouse was “now in the wrong place, through no fault of its own” as Inverurie had grown around it. However, he thought there was more space on the site better suited to the proposed extension and moved to recommend refusal, which was seconded by fellow Inverurie and District Councillor Richard Cowling.

West Garioch Councillor Allison Grant said that the fence surrounding the site was crucial and if it was a public open space, why was it fenced off? She added that she didn’t think the extension would have a detrimental impact on the area and noted that the supporting letter from the applicants agent that highlighted a reduction in use of the road, actually reducing traffic impact. The supporting statement also pointed out that the doors facing nearby Strathburn Primary School could be closed for most of the time reducing dour and noise. Hides and bi-products could be loaded inside the plant and would no longer be visible to the public. She moved to recommend approval which was seconded by Westhill and District Councillor Ron McKail, who agreed that the extension would not have a detrimental affect on the surrounding area.

East Garioch Councillor Martin Ford said that he was of the opinion that most “open space” was usually in the general ownership of the council and wasn’t usually fenced off from the pavement. In fact he wasn’t sure it was any more public open space “than someone’s front garden”.

Councillor Cowling said that the volume of traffic in the surrounding area raised an enormous amount of concern locally and as the open space acted as a buffer zone, he thought that was a good reason to refuse.

East Garioch Councillor Fergus Hood said he felt it was unfair on the applicant for the site to be badged as public open space, and felt a better description would be an “area of landscaping”. He noted that the local firm would be able to salt and store hides in the new facility and they would be able to sell to a wider market, instead of only one buyer as the current operation allows.

He added he was happy with the design and that it would be of great benefit to the operation of the processing of hides, and save 20 to 30 trips on the public road by forklifts per day.

Westhill and District Councillor Amanda Allan agreed with her colleague that the reduction of forklift journeys on the road would be a benefit.

Aberdeenshire Council’s legal representative told members that in his opinion the land could not be deemed a public open space unless there was a public footpath across the site or a public right-of-way.

Committee Chair, Councillor Martin Kitts-Hayes commented that in his opinion the application rested on whether the proposal respected the character and amenity of the area.

In summing up Councillor Mike Raeburn said the application hinged on the issue regarding “public open space” and said that the area formed a buffer zone between the industrial area and the residential area, and added it was a public open space as it was “free from development”.

Following a vote the council decided to recommend the application for approval by seven votes to six.