Consultation open on 400 homes at Scolty

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The consultation period on a renewed application to build a 400 home development in the Scolty area of Banchory is now under way.

Developer Sandlaw Farming Company submitted a new application for “planning permission in principle” for the Scolty site last week.

This comes after a previous application in 2014 met with strong objections from Banchory residents.

Sandlaw Farming is proposing to build 400 homes in the area, which would include 300 private rented, 75 affordable homes, 25 assisted living units and a health centre on land at Braehead, Auchattie.

The public consulation for the new application will close on February 26 .

The recent application, lodged with Aberdeenshire Council on January 28, is the third made by Sandlaw Farming Company. The previous application will continue to be processed.

Mike Adams, a Banchory resident and member of the group behind the Scolty Redevelopment Facebook page, said: “We are responding to this, the third development application by Sandlaw Farming in the past year, by once again raising the many concerns of local Banchory residents.

“These concerns were supported by Aberdeenshire Council in June 2014 when the original two-phase 700- home proposal was strongly opposed in the publication of the 2016 Local Development Plan recommendations.

“Within a few weeks of the report being published, a new application for planning permission had been submitted by Sandlaw Farming. Now, only six months on yet another application has been submitted, this time for 400 new homes, south of the river Dee in Banchory. This effectively represents a rebranding of phase one of their previous application but with an increase in housing density from 20 homes per hectare to 40.

“We are very concerned that this proposal, if not stopped, will set the precedent not only for urbanisation of the landscape south of the river but also for the ability of developers to supersede the Council’s Local Development Plan.”

Other concerns raised include fears that both construction and residential traffic would be routed through Banchory High Street, causing strain and congestion on existing roads. Residents are worried that this could also result in an increased pedestrian and pollution risk.

The size of the development, according to those opposing the plans, would also impact local schools and services.

Spokesperson for Sandlaw Farming Company, Colin Liddell, said: “The previous plan was for 700 houses and it became clear that the size of the development was an issue.

“We reduced the size of the development and we also changed the nature of it so it’s only housing for rent. It’s private rented houses and assisted living.

“The Scottish Government Police is very much in favour of providing more homes for rent. There’s a huge demand in Banchory for types of housing you just can’t get at the moment. A lot of people are finding in very difficult.

“We are trying to provide housing that local people can actually afford.

“We understand where this group is coming from and we have addressed concerns in the report.”

Sandlaw Farming confirmed that independent professionals were called in to discuss the matter of traffic generated by the site and it was decided that this could be managed and traffic lights could be installed at Bridge of Feugh.

Mike Adams added: “The developer has commissioned reviews quashing any traffic, environmental or landscape concerns.

‘‘However, we feel unable to accept reports that could never be classed as independent.

‘‘The developer also quotes population estimates to support the need for further development that are not supported by the Aberdeen City and Shire Strategic Development Planning Authority.

“As local residents we want to protect our valued and much loved town and encourage all with an interest in preserving the character and appeal of Banchory to object to this proposal.”

Comments regarding the proposed development can be submitted on the Aberdeenshire Council website under the application reference APP/2015/0225.