Housing and Health Hub plans for academy sites

The 'new' academy site is set to be split in three with housing, a Family Resource Centre and Health and Social Care Hub on the cards
The 'new' academy site is set to be split in three with housing, a Family Resource Centre and Health and Social Care Hub on the cards

Proposals for possible developments on the two former Ellon Academy sites have been discussed at the Formartine Area Committee.

Councillors met on Tuesday, April 25 to comment on the masterplan.

Extra Care Housing is on the cards for the site of the old academy

Extra Care Housing is on the cards for the site of the old academy

Demolition of the old academy is ongoing and the site is still to be cleared, however it could be transformed into Extra Care Housing that will provide 24 one-bedroom dwellings in two blocks with additional support facilities.

The extra-care model offers service users the chance to live in their own homes independently while still having help and support on-hand.

Meanwhile the ‘new’ academy site will be split into three with plans outlined for affordable housing, an Aberdeenshire Office and Family Centre, and a new NHS Health and Social Care Hub.

Provision of affordable housing in Ellon is a high priority, and development on the former academy site has been provisionally included in the new build programme for 2017/18 - 2019/20. The proposals state that the homes will be for Social Rent and are to be made up of 12 one-bed flats, four two-bed flats, six three-bed houses and one four-bed house.

The Family Resource Centre will fill a major gap in social work service provision in Ellon and will help meet current demand for services and provide for evolving needs.

The Centre proposal would also include accommodation for 100 desks for non-Health and Social Care staff currently based in Ellon as part of the WorkSPACE Strategy.

A further 50 desks would be available for additional staff that could be located in Ellon, rather than Aberdeen or Inverurie.

The proposed office development would include meeting facilities for groups such as the Formartine Area Committee. By relocating council staff to the new site, current offices across Ellon town centre, including the Ythan Centre and Day Care Centre, could be released.

Ellon Library will remain where it is and is not affected by the plans.

The final development on the former academy site is set to be a new Health and Social Care Hub.

NHS Grampian and Aberdeenshire Health and Social Care Partnership have been working with council officers to create the proposals.

The site plan includes a replacement building for the current Health Centre and the Adult Day Service building on Station Road, plus accommodation for the Health and Social Care teams in Ellon and surrounding areas.

The building is set to be constructed to current GP practices and will include appropriate parking allocation.

It would also include space to allow for future expansion to meet the demands of an increasing population.

The development of the Hub would incorporate the existing Health Centre site as well as part of the former academy site.

Additional points in the plan include the creation of a two-way road on Schoolhill Road, ensuring access to Ellon Castle and Ellon Castle Gardens, and the creation of two plots for private house builders to the front and rear of the Hub site.

Commenting on the plans, councillor Isobel Davidson said: “I’m concerned about the lack of retail plans, we need to have a plan for the centre of Ellon.

“However I am pleased that the plans are close to the town cetnre as it means people there would use it, we just need to ensure there are well made and easy to use paths.

“As this is just a plan we should talk to the community and get feedback, I would be concerned if we got to the next stage without any as it is vital to gather opinons.”

Cllr Gillian Owen agreed that community engagement was essential and added: “Residents will be delighted with the new Health Centre but it must be stated that it is not down to Aberdeenshire Council, it is the NHS, but they accept the current Health Centre is not fit for purpose.”

Cllr Richard Thomson said: “Merging Woodhill and Gordon House will lead to a very significant employment boost for Ellon but the big prize is the potential new GP Surgery.

“We just need the NHS to commit to the plan and bring the vision to reality.”

Fellow councillor Rob Merson added: “I’m glad the plans have been designed on a needs-led basis, the council could have said ‘fill it with housing’ which was my fear.

“What has happened has covered all concerns, needs and issues in the area.

“Some may have loved to see a retail park but we need to make greater use of our current shops as they aren’t making numbers that would excite future retailers.

“This new plan would increase footfall from workers to the town centre which will help numbers across the town centre.

“It is a win/win paper and I’m delighted with it.”