Downies houses turned down

AN application to build two houses near Downies village has been turned down by the Kincardine and Mearns area committee.

A reduced committee, consisting of only six of the 12 councillors, voted 3-2 to refuse the application for outline planning permission to build two detached houses on an area of vacant land close to the village.

North Kincardine councillor Ian Mollison abstained from casting his vote.

The application had been recommended for approval by council officials, but had attracted 26 letters of representation raising concerns about the proposal.

North Kincardine councillor Alastair Bews moved to refuse the application because the land is in an undeveloped coastal area.

Aberdeenshire Council policy states that such applications will be refused unless social and environmental benefits clearly outweigh any adverse environmental impacts, there is no suitable alternative site and it respects the character, environment and amenity of the surrounding area.

Mr Bews said: “As far as I can see, there are no social or economic benefits to this. I would feel extremely uncomfortable about passing this.”

A report before councillors however, stated that any environmental impact caused by the development would be minimal.

It said: “It is accepted that this two house proposal on this undeveloped land would ultimately add built form to a small part of the undeveloped coast.

“However, as the subject site adjoins residential development and would not extend the village in to the countryside, beyond the defined settlement boundaries, it is felt that the degree of any visual or landscape impact would be minimal.”

Some of the concerns raised by residents included the impact the new development would have on the roads, traffic and pedestrian safety in the village, the impact on the character of the settlement and the coastal environment and the loss of an area of green space currently used for recreational purposes.

Portlethen and District Community Council also objected to the application on the basis that it considers the site to be outwith the boundaries of Downies on agricultural land and as such there should be no non-essential development within the coastal strip.

Planning permission in principal already exists on another site within the village for five houses.

The original application for these houses was turned down in 2004 by the Kincardine and Mearns area committee, as was a subsequent appeal.

However a further application was submitted in 2009 and while it was again refused by the committee, the subsequent planning appeal was upheld in 2010.

North Kincardine councillor Ian Mollison said he was concerned that a precedent had been set by this earlier case.

“If we had not had that previous case I would be four-square with Councillor Bews. I feel that if we turn it down, it will go to appeal and it will cost council taxpayers’ money and we will get a rap on the knuckles yet again.”