Developers slammed for “insulting” no show at meeting

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THE developers behind plans for a controversial £250m housing and business project in Stonehaven were this week charged with “insulting” the town after failing to appear at a community council meeting.

Representatives from Barratt East Scotland and the Drum Property Group were invited to attend the meeting on Tuesday night, but informed the Stonehaven and District Community Council that no-one would be unable to make it.

Chairman of the group, David Fleming, said it was a matter of “considerable regret” and added that he had had a “fairly acrimonious” discussion in a last-ditch bid to get someone along but to no avail.

He said: “They take a different view of the proceedings to us.”

The meeting was attended by dozens of local residents keen to make their voices heard on the proposals for 1500 houses, a 5,500 square metre supermarket, a hotel, a 500 square metre neighbourhood shopping precinct, a 25-acre business park, and a new primary school at Mill of Forest.

The developers applied to Aberdeenshire Council for outline planning permission last month and a total of 150 letters of representation have since been lodged in relation to the application.

One member of the public who attended the meeting branded the developers’ no-show “pathetic” and “disrespectful.”

He said: “At their own meetings they were always able to come out in force and there is a lack of respect being shown for the views of the community here.”

The community council’s web secretary Ian Hunter said: “This is a tourist town and if we lose it, it will be one more town lost that looks really attractive. What we want to do is not ruin the bowl of Stonehaven which is very important. It is an amenity for the whole of North-east Scotland, not just for Stonehaven.

“I think it is important that we register the fact that the developers have not turned up as they are always keen to massage the public consultation process, whereas this meeting would have been a true public consultation and that is the last thing they want.”

The community council formally noted the snub as an “insult” to the town.

Flooding, traffic issues, the presence of wildlife on the site, the ability of existing infrastructure to cope with such an increase in growth in the town and the loss of “quality” farmland surrounding Stonehaven were all concerns raised by those present.

One resident said: “The question for me is what sort of Stonehaven do the people of Stonehaven want? If there is any sort of development on the other side of the A90 then clearly, once we break the dyke, controlling it is almost impossible.

“To me, the thing that is so special about Stonehaven is not just the fine village and town that it is, but also the countryside around it.”

The community council last month backed a motion to oppose the development in principle as it goes against both the current and proposed local plan for the area, but delayed formally submitting the objection until they had heard from developers.

A community council letter containing 16 points of objection will now be sent to Aberdeenshire Council.