Aberdeenshire councillors have agreed to go ‘cap in hand’ to the Stewart Milne Group in a bid to utilise more than £100,000 in unspent developer obligations.
Despite having several years to spend the £662,000 provided by the housebuilder on ‘sustainable transport measures’ which could have included a park and ride facility at Portlethen, Aberdeenshire Council has only now confirmed the full extent of the underspend as of the June 30 deadline.
It was revealed to members of the authority’s Kincardine and Mearns Area Committee that £106,287 can no longer be spent by the council – with Stewart Milne Homes fully entitled to a refund of the remaining cash if it makes a formal request to have it returned.
Councillors heard that the obligations money has now been committed to provide upgraded road and active travel infrastructure at Causeymounth, electric vehicle chargers and cycle shelters at Hillside School and improved bus stop infrastructure including real-time bus display units.
A further £14,470 has been spent on storage equipment for bicycles which can be used to support Bikeability and wider cycle training at Hillside School.
During discussion, Councillor Colin Pike thanked officers for their diligent work in getting the council to this stage on what had been a “fraught” subject.
Reflecting on Barratt Homes’ recent decision to gift an obligation underspend of around £12,000 back to the community at Newtonhill, he proposed making a direct approach to Stewart Milne.
He said: “I would like the committee to write to Stewart Milne Group, expressing concern that these monies to be returned were meant for the benefit of the Hillside development and as a gesture of goodwill to the community, the funds be given over to the Culture, Sports and Leisure Service to specifically assist with the development of the Hillside pitch and allotment group.
“Given the size of the funds I think it would be beneficial to everyone.”
Supporting that approach – unanimously agreed by committee – Councillor Ian Mollison said if the firm were to be generous and agree to the request, it would be “most welcome in the community” and would help solve a long-standing problem.