Kincluny: “A wide and active debate”

Park Quarry, aerial view
Park Quarry, aerial view

The revised plans for the Park Quarry site near Drumoak were scrutinised by members of the public last week at a community council meeting.

The Crathes, Drumoak and Durris Community Council (CDDCC) invited the Chap Group, who currently own the site, to the special meeting on Wednesday, August 5, at the Drumoak Church Hall, in light of their known intention to submit another planning application for a housing development on the site.

David Morrish, former Chairman of the CDDCC, opened proceedings by giving a short history of the Chap Group’s previous application and the results of a survey, which concluded that 91 percent of residents opposed it.

He said: “Aberdeenshire planning policy opposes it and the Chap proposal is not in the Local Development Plan.

“Assuming that local democracy counts for anything at all, we must conclude that the Kincluny Planning Application will be met with refusal.”

Hugh Cragie, Joint Managing Director of Chap Group, said: “Kincluny would be a 1500 home development, of which 500 are low cost.

“What we mean by low cost homes are starter homes, shared equity, homes for the elderly, and units for housing association.”

Cragie added: “We do not see Kincluny as just another housing estate, and to support this we’ve established the Kincluny Trust.”

Chap have vowed to contribute £1000 for every unit sold towards the Trust, which would go towards “a range of uses which may include a community shop, maintenance of local facilities, start up business units and allotments”.

Douglas Thomson, the other Joint Managing Director of Chap Group, said: “We fully acknowledge that we are not included in the local development plan, but we believe that things have moved on a long way since even the most recent drafting of the plan.

“There is currently a very wide and active debate about affordable housing, critically, in the Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire area.”

He went on to talk about the cumulative shortfall in homes being built across Aberdeenshire, and the short supply leading to higher prices.

The questions from the attending public centred around how the Kincluny development would impact the already strained infrastructure, such as roads and local schools.

The responses were that the Chap Group were in talks with the Council, as well as the Aberdeenshire Roads Department.

Thomson spoke of a ‘melting pot’ of issues currently facing local communities, but insisted that the Kincluny development could be part of the solution.

One concerned resident drew attention to the recent downturn in the oil industry, and the effect that would have on the demand for housing, potentially creating ghost towns of half-finished developments around the shire.

He said: “You don’t have to go far to see ‘for sale’ signs in Aberdeenshire, and 2016 is predicted to be a bloodbath.”

The Chap Group are expected to lodge a planning application with Aberdeenshire Council in the near future with regards to the Kincluny village.

Bob Reid, of Halliday Fraser Munro, told the meeting at large that the development which had more opposition to it than any other in recent times was the Elsick development.

He said: “It’s not simply about the number if objections, it is about a wider range of factors.”

Howard Scholey, a Community Councillor, speaking directly to the Chap Group near the end of the evening, said: “Why do we have a process of doing things when you can just come along and say you know better? Why do we have all of these plans which we pay for out of our taxes when you can just come in and do something so contrary to them?”

Concluding the meeting, Maxine Smith, Deputy Chair of the CDDCC, said that there was more to come on the issue, and added that Kincluny was not a done deal.

In an official statement after the meeting, Thomson said: “I would like to thank Crathes, Drumoak and Durris Community Council for providing Chap with another opportunity to discuss the Kincluny proposals with the local community, and properly address any questions they had.

“I was encouraged by the level of engagement and the community’s desire to understand how the various aspects of the new village will be delivered if permission for Kincluny was forthcoming.

“We fully appreciated the input of the community council members and those in attendance and hope that we have been able to provide clarity on aspects of our proposals, shed some light onto the affordable housing crisis in Deeside, and reassure local residents that careful thought and consideration has gone into the proposals for Kincluny village.”