‘Gateway’ site approved

Councillor Peter Argyle
Councillor Peter Argyle

Plans for a multimillion-pound expansion on land referred to as a “gateway to Aberdeenshire” have been approved by councillors.

The application from Westhill Development Company, which was first tabled five years ago, requested planning permission for business and industrial development, on land to the east of Arnhall Business Park, Westhill.

Garioch Area councillors agreed in April to defer the proposal to the Infrastructure Services Committee as the proposal was a departure from Aberdeenshire Council’s Local Plan.

At the Infrastructure meeting at Woodhill House the committee unanimously agreed that the plans should be taken forward, subject to 25 tough conditions.

Head of planning fand building standards, Robert Gray said: “This is a proposal which is a gateway to both Westhill and Aberdeenshire, so we would want a high-quality site.

“If you take this forward there should be a large number of conditions as it’s a hugely important site.”

Concerns were raised by locals that developing the site would have a negative visual impact on the area, as well as increased traffic. Mr Gray had given assurances that the visual impact would be effectively managed through landscaping and careful planning of the layout of the offices.

Significant work will be done to improve the surrounding roads, including replacing the existing roundabout with traffic lights at the fork junction leading into Westhill.

Infrastructure Chair Peter Argyle added: “Certainly a lot of work has gone into this one. It’s a very prominent site and I want to see the highest possible quality for the site.”

The third phase of the development has already attracted from three major oil and gas firms, which would join Subsea 7 and Tesco on the site.