Letters to the Editor

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Here are the letters sent to us this week that can be seen on page 10. If you have a letter you can e-mail it to news@mearnsleader.com or mail it to 12 Ann Street, AB39 2ER.

Business park - About ‘more openness’

Sir- As chairman of the Stonehaven Tourism Group, Frank Budd is rightly concerned about the impact of any future development in the area. Mr Budd’s ‘more openness needed’ letter (October 31) was, however, surprisingly uninformed and, accordingly, misleading.

Bancon’s recent application for planning permission for an extension to the business park at East Newtonleys is NOT bound up with any other application. The application is for an extension to the business park site which has had detailed planning permission from Aberdeenshire Council for many years. Indeed, initial development work has already started on that site and we are in advanced discussions with potential occupiers of the site.

This application is NOT dependent on any housing development. Last year we did hold an exhibition of proposals that included a site for a supermarket, a new primary school and playing fields which would provide a new home for Mackie Academy FPs Rugby Club. Those proposals were given a very encouraging response by the public, who made very clear the need for such facilities in Stonehaven. We have not made a planning application in relation to these proposals to date.

The business park extension would benefit Stonehaven. The employment opportunities are very significant with capacity at the site for up to 1000 jobs.

As regards flood risk, there is an opportunity here to actually improve the current situation. New drainage measures would be introduced at the site which would result in significant run-off water being re-directed eastwards to the sea. This element of the scheme has been considered and approved by SEPA. Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems (SUDS) designed for a one in 200-year event (as opposed to the standard one in 30-year designs) will be created to attenuate the remaining water that flows into the Glasslaw Burn during storm conditions. The discharge rate of water post development will therefore be lower than the rate which currently flows from the land, substantially reducing (by c.20%) the peak flows in the Glasslaw Burn during storm conditions.

I am happy to provide further information on these proposals in the spirit of openness and honesty as Mr Budd suggests. When there is a real chance of delivering facilities that will be to Stonehaven’s benefit, we should all be pulling in the same direction.

Yours etc.,

Harry McNab

Planning Director - Bancon Developments

Supermarkets - Letter to the council...

Sir - Please find below the letter sent to the councillors of Kincardine and Mearns regarding the two planning applications at Ury Estate and Fetteresso:

M&Co trades in over 260 locations throughout the UK, many of our stores are in towns which are not dissimilar to Stonehaven and experience dictates that the company must seek to oppose such out of town development.

In particular, M&Co closed its Forres store because of the Tesco. The heart of town centre trading has been ripped out of Nairn, Buckie and Wick. Ellon no longer features on our opening list of targets because of out of town supermarket development.

If, however, the supermarket development proposed was located in the town, in line with national planning guidelines, it would be good for the town and I would support it.

It is in our experience that where customers are required to walk more than 200 metres or so they will confine their visit to one location, being either the new development out of town or the existing town centre resulting in a very large reduction in pedestrian flow to the existing town centre.

Customers will buy their convenience food at the out of town store, eg their mince, and will return to the quality butcher in the existing town centre when they want steak. The butcher can’t survive only selling steak and over time they will close. As more of the existing retailers close, their places are often taken by charity shops and some lie empty, fewer customers come to the town centre and less money circulates in the town centre prompting less investment.

I am not complaining about increased competition but rather the consequences of the drop in pedestrian flow to the existing town centre because the distance between existing shopping and the proposed supermarket is too far.

A planning decision giving consent will ultimately diminish the town as a thriving retail hub.

Supermarkets seek dominance for their brand so that they can get the biggest market share. Supermarkets and developers are very experienced at presenting a very rosy picture of how it will all pan out with more jobs and a thriving existing town centre. Stonehaven doesn’t have a large enough shopping anchor to withstand this level of customer diversion and it doesn’t take many stores to close and reduce staffing to have no net gain in employment.

Statistics and bold statements supporting the scheme are easily made. I have, however, difficulty reconciling these with my own store’s experience here and elsewhere.

The planning service have, to their credit, obtained independent specialist advice which is most welcome and provides a sound basis for refusal given the importance of these applications of the future of the town.

Approval of such supermarket locations would threaten the confidence I place in the long term future of the town as a trading location for M&Co and I suspect other traders would share these concerns. I sincerely hope that a decision is made in the favour of the town and that neither supermarket scheme comes to fruition.

Yours etc,

Iain McGeoch OBE

Chairman M&Co

Independence - Patronising letter?

Sir - I refer to John Lester’s rather patronising letter of last week where he proceeded to tell us in essence that we should all listen to the other person’s argument and respect their viewpoint.

He forgets that the majority of Scottish voters have said we don’t want independence and, contrary to what he may think, most of them will be just as patriotic Scots as he seems to claim to be.

Most of us made our decision on the basis that we were happier to stay in a union which has worked and that we were totally unconvinced that the economic case was there to support the utopia portrayed in the White Paper. What he fails to realise is that the last minute carrot of devo –max, or whatever you want to call it, made not one whit of difference to most of us who voted No. In fact, we could have well done without it as no matter what happens now the cry from the Yes camp, like spoiled kids, is going to be “We did not get what we wanted!”

It will be so easy to do this as what was actually promised in “the vow” was “permanent and extensive new powers for the Parliament will be delivered by the process and to the timetable agreed.” This would include a continuation of the Barnett formula for resources and the power of the Scottish Parliament to raise revenue, (both undefined) and lastly, the final say on what is spent on the NHS.

The problem is that there is a big difference between what those who voted Yes expect to get and what those of us who voted No will be satisfied with so the arguments will continue. Most of us are sick fed up with the ranting of a minority who are hell bent on convincing the rest of us that their way is the only way so please, Mr Lester, don’t preach to us as to how we should respond to the brainwashing tactics of those who seem intent on dividing our Nation.

It is time that the Scottish Government got on with the job it is paid to do as nothing of note has been achieved over the past two years. Perhaps, before the part of the vow which makes the Scottish Parliament permanent is implemented, we should have a Referendum to get rid of it?

Yours, etc.

W M Allan

Stonehaven

Response - Supermarket decision

Sir - I respond to your correspondent, Diane Fleming (Leader November 7), who is disappointed that councillors on the area committee have turned down two applications for supermarkets in Stonehaven. The first application, at Toucks – Kirkton of Fetteresso, was not just for a supermarket but 1500 houses, business units and several other things too. Does Mrs Fleming really think that the people of Stonehaven want that scale of development there in order to have a supermarket?

Did she not see the 142 letters of objection against one letter of support? She probably did not hear the impassioned plea by one local resident at the predetermination hearing who said the proposal would tear the heart out of Stonehaven. Mrs Fleming also seems to think that councillors should just ignore the Local Development Plan when making planning decisions. This plan is the result of a huge amount of effort and a huge number of responses to the public consultations. Councillors decided after considering the matter carefully and taking into account all the public responses, that major development should take place at the new settlement of Chapelton. This means that only a modest development is needed in Stonehaven.

To meet the housing need we do not need 1500 houses in Stonehaven and housing has not been allocated to Toucks – Kirkton of Fetteresso in the current Local Development Plan.

The second application is for a supermarket, hotel and filling station, but no houses, at Ury Estsate. However, there is housing development going on in the vicinity. In looking at this case I have not been apathetic or lethargic as Mrs Fleming suggests or unaware that there is a strong demand in Stonehaven for a second supermarket. I have thought long and hard about it.

I am sure my fellow councillors have done likewise.

The prime reason for not wanting a supermarket at this location is the effect on the town centre. We have an attractive town centre with a range of shops and facilities.

This is important if we want to attract people to Stonehaven as a tourist destination and is to the benefit of residents too.

Do we really want a run-down town centre with shops closing down? Do we want a few charity shops and not much else? And, yes, the proposal is contrary to policy as set out in the Local Development Plan. It is contrary to Scottish Planning Policy, which is overarching policy set by the Scottish Government. Both aim to protect and promote the vitality and viability of town centres. I believe it is right that we do so.

Without a doubt there is a need for another supermarket in Stonehaven but we must get the location right.

Yours, etc.

Councillor Peter Bellarby

Stonehaven and Lower Deeside ward

Christmas Cards - Lets make a difference

Sir - It is that time of year that we are all starting to think about Christmas cards. Every year I send cards to family, friends and others. If they are anything like me they give them a quick glance and they are left in one big pile and not even put on display.

This year I have decided to give £100 to a worthwhile cause that would benefit the local community. The Stonehaven Dialysis Unit which is £100, 000 away from its target is my chosen charity.

This got me thinking that how good it would be if the local people would commit to doing the same and donate to a local community charity instead of sending Christmas cards.

If anyone would like to donate to this charity this can be done online via https://www.justgiving.com/Stonehavendialysisunit/

Let’s make a difference this Christmas.

Yours, etc.,

Name and address supplied

Misleading? - Supermarket and housing

Sir - Your headline in the Mearns Leader of October 21 was perhaps misleading - “Councillors reject Stonehaven supermarket bids”.

While it is true that the local council recently turned down plans for two potential supermarket sites (at Ury Estate and at Kirktown / Feathers), the issue was surely more about their turning down - quite rightly - major housing (1500 houses alone at Feathers / Toucks) and other developments in the wrong areas which were neither in the local development plans or supported by Aberdeenshire’s planning dept. This is also true in respect of the further development plans now being put forward again by Stewart Milne at Mains of Cowie.

Going against the local plan (and common sense) and allowing the build by the various developers who offer new supermarkets alongside perhaps up to another 2000 to 2500 new houses alongside Stonehaven would be a massive mistake. While I would agree with the widely held opinion that Stonehaven could benefit from a new supermarket, I certainly don’t want one if it is to come along with another 2000 plus houses and all of the adverse impacts that this would bring to our already over-stretched resources - education, health, leisure, etc.

Not to mention the landscape impact on the town and surrounding area. The carrot from developers that the town can have a new supermarket in return for the go-head to their major housing developments is one that we should not have to accept.

The approval of any of the various major housing development plans in or around Stonehaven would also significantly affect the very viability of the approved new town at Chapelton of Elsick and this must also be a key factor in the council’s decision to reject these other sites.

It is not as if there are no other sites for a new supermarket in the town. Personally, I think the planners’ indicated site at Spurryhillock is a good possibility. Not big enough perhaps for a major superstore but I would have thought that the site indicated is more than adequate to provide some decent competition (finally) to the Coop in Stonehaven. I also think that the debate started by Stonehaven Town Partnership (which I am not in any way connected to) is a good one and with some interesting ideas worthy of consideration.

A writer in last week’s Leader objected to the council voting against supermarkets, but this was only part of the story.

Yours etc

Name and address supplied

Editor’s note: Headlines, by their very nature, are short and sharp. For the details - read the article!