In what councillors described as ‘‘an historic day for Aberdeenshire,’’ ambitious plans for Chapelton - Scotland’s largest new town - were given the go-ahead on Tuesday, paving the way for work to begin on the first new neighbourhood on the Chapelton of Elsick site to the west of Newtonhill.
The Kincardine and Mearns Area Committee granted approval for an outline planning application to start transforming 2000 acres of farmland into a new community for the North-east.
The detailed application for the first 802 homes was also passed.
Councillors have said in the past that the Chapelton of Elsick development would allow the committee to protect Stonehaven and other towns in Kincardine and the Mearns from additional housing as it will meet a large percentage of the needs in the area.
The town will aim offer to offer a pedestrian-friendly, mixed use environment for residents, with a focus on community living
The long-term masterplan includes a total of seven neighbourhoods, creating the potential for up to 8,000 homes, thus making it Scotland’s largest new settlement for a generation.
The news follows an extensive community engagement programme designed to ensure that as many as 5,000 locals had their voices heard during the consultation process.
In June 2012 updated designs for Chapelton were unveiled at a public exhibition following feedback from the local community. Modifications included changes to address transport and infrastructure requirements.
Lord Southesk, director of Elsick Development Company (EDC), said: “From day one of this process we have taken on board a very broad range of views to ensure that the plan is as well designed as possible. This has resulted in several amendments to the scheme and additional supporting technical, environmental and design information.
“This news means we can potentially be on site in the Autumn and it will be very exciting to begin work on this landmark project. We believe that Chapelton will be a major economic boost to the area as well as addressing the need for housing of all types.
“With up to 8,000 homes planned in the long term, as well as schools, community facilities and commercial space, Chapelton is set to become a major new Aberdeenshire community.”
Chapelton will include industrial and business development, within the site and on land adjacent to Newtonhill, and is estimated to generate approximately 8,000 jobs.
Phase 1a will see 802 units and a small high street built at Cairnhill, the first of seven neighbourhoods.
For more information visit www.chapeltonofelsick.co.uk.
Councillor Peter Bellarby said: “This is a large and impressive development to show the whole of Scotland what can be achieved.”
Councillor Ian Mollison proposed that the committee approve the plans without further delay. He added: “This is an exciting development and the standards are high. This is a day to be proud of and I hope we will have a town to be proud of.”
Councillor Graeme Clark added: “This is a special day for this committee. It’s a fantastic opportunity, and well done to the planning team, but we’ve got to do it right. We don’t want a piecemeal development. I look forward to it coming to fruition.”
He added: “We have a blank canvas here so there’s a lot at stake. We have an opprotunity here for a really fantastic development. Can we be assured that there will be continuity from the developers?”
Cllr Clark was assured that the Elsick Development Company will be setting up a community interest company to monitor achievements as it progresses.
Councillors highlighted several concerns about infrastructure and facilities for the new town, including concerns about healthcare and education provision. See page 13 for further analysis.