‘New town’ plans throw up concerns

TUESDAY’S unanimous decision by Kincardine and Mearns Area Committee to approve outline plans for a new settlement at Chapelton of Elsick has prompted questions from the public about how the development will deal with infrastructure needs.

Members were told that “significant” alterations were needed to the Bruntland Road junction on the A90, with developers saying that the right-hand turn from the north-bound dual carriageway will need to be closed off amid safety fears. They also heard that there will be a roundabout upgrade at Newtonhill to deal with extra traffic going to and from the development.

Dr Ewan Clark, a GP from Portlethen Medical Centre, addressed the committee to make them aware of the pressures that a new settlement of this scale would put on the practice.

“I am not here to object to this development, but to make you aware of the consequences and the impact on medical services in the area.

“The boundary that Portlethen Medical Centre covers takes in all of Elsick, and we have an obligation to take on all patients who live in that boundary. This development would double our practice patients.

“Until the new town is complete and there is a health centre established there, we will have to take on all of the patients.

“We have been told by the Health Board that there is no money to build a new facility, so who is going to pay for one? If funding was available for a new building we could organically expand the practice into the new settlement.”

Councillor Graeme Clark suggested that a short-term solution may be to install temporary portable accommodation at the existing medical centre, but Dr Clark pointed out that Elsick will be decades in the making, and said it would “not be ideal” to treat patients in temporary accommodation.

But Chris Paterson, speaking on behalf of project managers Turner & Townsend, said that the developers did not expect a new town to fall into another community’s catchment area.

He added: “The Elsick Development Company does not want its residents visiting temporary portable accommodation for healthcare, so we will be looking at that very closely.”

Council officials said that a possible solution lay with the developers, who have offered to provide a building for the NHS at a discounted rate in the first phase of development.

Members were also told that, while there are plans for a new secondary school and three new primary schools, they would be “working towards” this through integrating education. Secondary pupils would be sent to Portlethen Academy until it reaches capacity, at which point there will be sent to Mackie Academy where temporary accommodation would be installed.

Councillor Alison Evison said: “This is a very exciting development but we have got to get it right. I don’t want a school to be put aside for financial or any other reasons. I want a firm commitment for schooling.”

Mr Paterson responded: “We see secondary education as fundamentally imprtant to Chapelton of Elsick.”

He added that there will be community use schools incorporating sports facilities.

Cllr Evison also outlined her concern that the development will only provide 13% affordable housing - significantly less than guidelines for 25% laid out in the Local Development Plan. However, she was the only member to voice concerns, with other councillors accepting the report which stated that the level of affordable housing had been reduced as it was a “high quality developmen.’’ The report also explained that 13% will still provide 500 affordable homes, which was a significant contribution to housing in the area.

While local residents seemed content that the new housing will not be added on to exisitng communities, concerns were that existing infrastructure would not cope if developers’ promises were not followed through.