49 new flats get go-ahead

COUNCILLORS have given the go-ahead to a new 49-flat development on Hospital Road, despite failing to win a concession on the number of affordable units.

Members of Formartine Area Committee had previously knocked back the proposals, saying that the proposed reduction from 13 affordable units to nine was unacceptable, and that the developer would have to come to a more adequate arrangement.

However, the applicant - named as Hospital Road Development Company - had stated to planners that any increase in the number of affordable units would render the development ‘economically unviable’, and that improvements which had already taken place on the site were themselves substantial benefits to the neighbouring area. Planners supported this, and recommended the project for approval.

Cllr Rob Merson said afterwards: “We had received a presentation from the officer who deals with planning gain, who told us that the current economic circumstances meant that we would have to reconsider our affordable housing objectives.

“There was also a risk that we could be discouraging development.”

In other news, plans for 18 new houses outside of Tarves came closer to reality after councillors gave the project the go ahead. The development, on the former site of Bains of Tarves, had come under scrutiny from Mid-Formartine Councillor Paul Johnston at the previous FAC meeting, on the grounds that the latest development plans included a strip of ground outwith the village settlement which had been ‘annexed’.

He also raised concerns about the drainage of rainwater, and inadequate screening between the new houses and the employment land which had already been allocated outside Tarves, arguing that a communally maintained wooded area would be better than individual plots.

Cllr Isobel Davidson argued that the experience of residents in Ellon’s Castle Park indicated that individual plots were a more sensible solution.

“We have lots of trees in Ellon, with disputes over who is responsible for their maintenance,” she said. “Dividing the trees between individual plots makes it easier for householders to maintain them, and gives them a certain amount of choice and flexibility.”

Cllr Johnston’s motion to knock back the plans for re-negotiation was defeated, though members accepted an amendment by Cllr Jim Gifford stipulating that a path connecting the houses with Tarves proper would be needed before the houses could be occupied.

In other news, three wind turbines at Hatterseat near Newburgh were turned down, after planners received complaints from air operators who argued that additional development at the site - which already hosts three turbines - would cause ‘radar clutter’, making it hazardous to operate aircraft in the area.

Planners also took issue with a lack of information accompanying the application. Councillors backed the planners’ recommendations to refuse.