Plans to build 400 homes at Braehead, Banchory, met with a unanimous refusal at a meeting of the Marr Area Committee yesterday (Tuesday, May 5).
The divisive planning application, submitted by Sandlaw Farming, was discussed by the committee and members were asked for preliminary views on the Deeside development.
The views aired will be reported to Full Council, which will determine the application as it is for a Major Development which is significantly contrary to the development plan.
The committee unanimously agreed with the recommendation of the planners, which was to refuse the application for all the reasons in the report.
Some additional reasons were added by the committee, including concerns that schools would be over capacity, the potentially adverse effect on tourism in the area, and the fact that the development would be on unallocated land outwith the settlement.
Speaking at the Marr Area Committee meeting, Provost Jill Webster said: “Of all the places to build in and around Banchory, this has got to be the least favoured and that is why it has consistently and time and time again been discounted as a suitable site for inclusion in the Local Development Plan. It’s surrounded by the Dee, the Feugh and Scolty and these are what define Banchory, giving it its unique rural setting and landscape character in an area of outstanding natural beauty. A development in this area would ruin the landscape character and uniqueness of the town’s rural setting forever. The beautiful views from Scolty and South across the Dee from the town would be scarred.
“There is no credible solution to traffic access over the 18th century single track grade B listed Bridge of Feugh and 4 way traffic lights, not only wouldn’t work but would destroy one of the most popular tourist spots in Aberdeenshire.”
Ken Ross, Development Consultant to Sandlaw Farming said: ”The most disappointing issue to emerge from the discussion was the fact that Councillors seemed unaware of their own housing policy commitment to provide private rented housing as part of a mix of tenures, including affordable homes. The provision of affordable homes seemed to be equated only with social rented housing, and that is not the case.
“The decision was not unexpected. It is another step in a planning process that has some way to go. The Scottish Government is encouraging the provision of private rented housing, provided at no cost to the taxpayer or ratepayer, yet Aberdeenshire Council has no allocations in its development plans for this type of urgently-needed housing”.
Provost Webster added: “The proposed rental of £850-1100 per month for the 300 private rental market houses is far from affordable to many people. Only 25%-100 units- of the proposed development is truly “affordable”-and this is no higher a percentage than all other allocated development sites in Aberdeenshire.”
The views from the committee will go before Full Council on June 18.