Design experts to review shops plan

Rival plans for a Donside shopping centre were branded the “ugly sisters” as councillors struggled to pick the better of the two.

Residents of Westhill have been waiting for the shopping centre to be expanded for years. It looked likely in 2009 after the site owners at the time were granted permission for a two-storey unit. The development never materialised and earlier this year the existing site owners, the St James’s Property Unit Trust, put forward their own ideas to expand the centre - which they quickly revised amid strong opposition from residents.

Members of the Garioch area committee admitted this week they were still unimpressed with the scheme and took the unusual decision of referring it to a panel of North-east design experts.

Community councillor Anne Thomson agreed the scheme was better, but described it as a “relatively featureless development” and said the group was keen to continue working with the developers to enhance how it looked.

Westhill councillor David Atchitson moved to defer the application, which was agreed, for the Architecture and Design Scotland to review describing both designs as “a beauty contest for the two ugly sisters.”