A strong contingent of Stonehaven residents braved a crisp evening on bonfire night to attend a meeting on the Local Development Plan’s Main Issues Report.
It was the first of eight similar events across Kincardine and Mearns and one of 42 happening across Aberdeenshire.
The purpose of the event, held at Mackie Academy, was to explain what planning issues had been identified specifically for the Stonehaven community, and the issues identified across Aberdeenshire more generally.
The first part of the presentation was given by policy team leader Piers Blaxter, who explained what the Main Issues Report is and the steps involved in the preparation of the next Local Development Plan in 2016.
Mr Blaxter stated that the Main Issues Report was a guide to stimulate debate, and that it was vital for communities such as Stonehaven to submit their views on the report to help shape the draft plan, which acts as a planning blueprint for the future of the area.
The second part of the presentation was given by David Dunne, policy planning officer for Kincardine and Mearns.
Mr Dunne detailed proposals being put forward for Stonehaven and reiterated that the policy team was anxious to get communities’ input and feedback.
The final part of the event was a question and answer session, which led to lively debate on issues from flooding and retailing to housing and transport.
Significant concern was raised about the possible impact of new developments on the potential for flooding within the town.
While it was noted that the council is undertaking a significant flood protection project, this will take a number of years to complete, and members of the audience were concerned any new development could exacerbate the issue.
On retailing, Mr Blaxter displayed a map which indicated all the current bids where developers were suggesting the location of a supermarket.
While the audience criticised Mr Blaxter and the council for not identifying a single preferred location, he explained that he could not prefer any individual site as he felt they were all flawed from a planning perspective.
He said that to prefer any one would leave the council open to challenge from the other developers and this could only be done under certain circumstances, such as also allowing additional major housing growth to lessen the impact on the existing town centre.
It was suggested residents should make a submission to the Main Issues Report with their preferred option for a supermarket, and discuss this with their elected representatives.
More generally, some felt the planning service had got things wrong in Stonehaven, by allowing certain developments to proceed and by not providing for other facilities, such as a supermarket.
Mr Blaxter and Mr Dunne pointed out the purpose of the Main Issues Report was to stimulate this debate and again welcomed local views.
n Further information and details of all other consultation events can be found at: www.aberdeenshire.gov.uk/ldp Submissions must be received by February 1, 2014.