Planning issues discussed

the new Aberdeenshire Local Development Plan took another step forward in its final stages this week when councillors considered submissions to the proposed plan.

Over 2800 letters of representation were submitted, detailing concerns, comments and observations regarding the plan, including proposals about the proposed Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route, the 4000-house Elsick development, a 60-house development in Luthermuir and further development in Stonehaven among others.

The plan, which will provide a blueprint which sets out the built future of Aberdeenshire is due to go before the Scottish Government Directorate of Planning and Environmental Appeals, who will examine objections to the proposed plan in the final phase of its development - a process which is expected to take between six and nine months. Local councillors were given the opportunity this to make any changes to the draft plan, although they were reminded that any significant changes could delay the process by up to a year.

Members of the Kincardine and Mearns area committee made no changes to the plan, although several councillors queried and commented on parts of it.

The greatest number of representations was received in relation to a site at Luthermuir, with nearly 400 people expressing a view on a housing proposal and the potential loss of old woodland. Mr Blaxter told the committee that, although they could “argue very strongly” about the retention of all of the sites in the plan, the site at Luthermuir, which could see a 60-house development, was one where their arguments “may not be strong enough”

Area chairman Paul Melling questioned team leader of the structure plan team for Aberdeenshire Council, Piers Blaxter, over the “deliverability” of the development at Elsick. He said: “We have the opportunity to make a state-of-the-art, 21st century place. The practice of bolting on housing to existing communities helps to promote growth, but it doesn’t give the opportunity to properly integrate new housing into a community, as we have with Elsick. There is a feeling of goodwill towards the proposals, but the question of its deliverability keeps coming up”.

Mr Blaxter said that his team had agreed a plan with the developers to make it deliverable, and added that “everything is going smoothly at this point.” He added: “We are content that we have a delivery plan we are working to, the developer is adhering to the plan and there is no reason to believe that it is undeliverable.”

Mr Blaxter told councillors that the plan is “entirely dependent” on the realisation of the proposed Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route, and said that they anticipated a decision on the new route soon.

Councillor Peter Bellarby commented that the “most significant part” of the plan is that the committee has decided it does not want to see any major expansion of Stonehaven or Portlethen, and instead see a new development to cope with housing allocation for the area. He said: “We want to get away from mistakes made in the past in Portlethen. This is how we want to move forward.”

The plan is expected to be returned by the Scottish Government between October and December.