high-FLYING plans to change the use of ground on the site of the former Fordoun aerodrome to allow the development of employment land has been rejected following a heated debate by councillors.
They had previously voted for the land to be zoned for development in the last Local Development Plan (LDP) in March 2010.
However, that decision was later overturned by the Infrastructure Services Committee, meaning that any development of the land would be contrary to planning policy.
The landowner, a Mr Mitchell, told the Kincardine and Mearns area committee on Tuesday that, although the land was in the countryside, it was adjacent to existing industrial land and not suitable for agricultural use.
Planning officers reccommended that the application be refused amid concerns over road access to the site, as well as the fact that it deviates from the LDP.
It was also noted that land on the outskirts of nearby Laurencekirk had already been put aside for employment development.
Three of the four Mearns councillors - George Carr, Jean Dick and Dave Stewart were in favour of overriding the LDP in support of the landowner.
Cllr Carr moved to support the application on the grounds that it would suit companies with large equipement that may not be suitable for smaller industrial sites like the one in Laurencekirk. Also, it was not suitable agricultural land and it was away from residential developments which could object to noisy machinery.
He was supported by Cllr Dick, who said: “I agree that it would provide economic benefit for the area.
Cllr Stewart said: “We want local businesses to expand and create employment for local people.
‘‘As councillors we have been voted into this position to do what we can for the local people. A huge steel fabrication company would not be suitable in the allocated employment land on the outskirts of Laurencekirk. These decisions always tend to get overruled by others who have no idea what local people want.”
But several other councillors argued that, as the land was not zoned for development in the LDP, the application should be refused.
Mearns Councillor Bill Howatson objected to Cllr Stewart’s comments, adding: “We do not come here for self-aggrandisement.
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‘‘Mr Mitchell gave a very good presentation and, if he puts it forward for consideration in the next local plan, we will have the chance again soon to look at it in a broader perspective. I really feel that it is not in the local plan, and at the moment there are serious concerns about the roads.
“I do not accept that those of us who support officers’ recommendations are somehow less supportive of the local people. I do hope that when the new local plan comes in they apply again.”
North Kincardine Councillor Alison Evisom moved to reject the application.
She said: “We should vote within the confines of the development plan process - we have that for a reason and we should move within it.
‘‘We have a new development plan coming up where this could be amended but, at the moment, it is contrary to the existing local plan.
Councillor Peter Bellarby agreed, adding: “We should stick to the LDP as it is, even if we don’t agree with it.”
Councillors voted eight votes to four to reject the application.