APPROVAL of an appeal to build a supermarket and spine road in Stonehaven would “dictate” future development in the town, Aberdeenshire Council has warned.
The local authority has made the statements as part of the appeal process undertaken by developers Bancon to overturn councillors’ refusal to grant planning permission for a supermarket and road at East Newtonleys.
A hearing session, based on statements from Bancon and Aberdeenshire Council, as well as Stonehaven and District Community Council, Catterline, Kinneff and Dunnottar Community Council and local residents, is due to be held in the town’s Leisure Centre next week.
Discussions on a number of issues will take place, including the retail impact of the applications, sustainable travel patterns, accessibility and the existing and future development of Stonehaven.
A site visit is also due to be held before Reporters make a final decision about the appeal.
Bancon launched the appeal after members of the Kincardine and Mearns area committee turned down the applications in May 2010.
Aberdeenshire Council state: “If a distributor road and supermarket are consented at East Newtonleys then the geography of the town shifts significantly...it is not inconceivable that a Reporter could put greater weight on development around a new supermarket and link road at East Newtonleys despite this not being the aspiration of the local community or the settled view of the council.
“It is considered by Aberdeenshire Council that approval of the Spine Road would dictate the future development pattern of Stonehaven.”
The local authority also note: “In relation to the latest estimates of retail impact for the East Newtonleys proposal it is the position of Aberdeenshire Council that the development of a site of this scale, in this location, would have a significant adverse impact on the convenience sector in the Stonehaven town centre.”
The council’s statement instead backed Spurryhillock as a viable alternative to East Newtonleys, saying: “The council deport alone could accommodate a significant food store development, although this would not be of the scale proposed by the appellants.
“This site should be regarded as available and is promoted as such in the draft LDP. The council also accept the evidence from the Field 52 and Loop Road inquiries that the Spurryhillock IE location could accommodate a larger scale retail development if additional land is included.”
The local authority conceded that Spurryhillock would be a “compromise”, but did not believe there was a town centre location it could promote.
In its hearing statement, Stonehaven and District Community Council also stressed that there were alternatives to the East Newtonleys site and highlighted local concerns that the spine road was in fact a “trojan horse”, which would not only bring a supermarket, but thousands of new homes, in its wake.
“It was noted with regret that early versions of the detailed design of the Spine Road show turnout junctions down the length of the road, in anticipation of housing development on all the land between East Newtonleys and Braehead,” the community council states. “These turnouts were subsequently erased.
“However, their original presence does give credence to the view that the major motivation for the Spine Road is the potential to develop the whole area.”
In contrast Catterline, Kinneff and Dunnottar Community Council back the appeal. It states: “Crucially, the strategic location of a substantially-sized, high-quality supermarket
at Braehead East Newtonleys, readily accessible from both the A90 and A92 and occupying a midpoint between Montrose and Portlethen, would serve a wider community than simply Stonehaven shoppers.
“The population of Stonehaven is under 11,000 and that of the catchment area (including Gourdon, Inverbervie, Laurencekirk, the CKDCC area and other adjacent rural areas) of the proposed supermarket is 7000-8000.
“It is, however, imperative that the supermarket is large enough to be a destination in its own right rather than merely a supplement to the existing stores in Portlethen and Montrose.”
In its hearing submission, Bancon stresses the view that the development would not have a significant adverse retail impact on Stonehaven town centre and makes the point that the area “has been earmarked for development through the extant local plan and which the council proposes to retain and extend within the emerging Local Development Plan.”
While not denying that it may be interested in further developing the area in the future, Bancon also states: “It is a plain and simple fact that the only proposals before the planning authority are for Planning Permission in Principle for a supermarket with associated car parking and petrol filling station plus full planning permission for a spine road to better connect the proposed supermarket with the rest of Stonehaven. No other proposals are before the planning authority.”