Ellon flats go back to drawing board

COUNCILLORS have knocked back plans for 49 new flats on Ellon’s Hospital Road after refusing to accept that less than one-quarter of the development would be composed of affordable housing.

The applicant, Hospital Road Development Company, had previously received a delegated grant from the committee, subject to certain conditions being met.

One of the conditions was that the development contain 13 affordable properties, which Hospital Road Development had argued was impossible due to both financial constraints and the difficulty of finding a housing association to develop the site.

Planners recommended that the amended proposals be agreed in spite of this.

Councillors agreed that there was a definite need for affordable housing in the Formartine area, but disagreed over how best to secure it.

Councillor Gillian Owen described the need as “obvious”, while Councillor Isobel Davidson argued that “while the provision in the plan for nine houses isn’t what we had hoped for, these plans should be moved forward”.

Her views were echoed by committee chairman Councillor John Loveday.

Dissent came from councillors Jim Gifford and Paul Johnston, who argued that the area committee had previously been seen to pull back from its objective of 25% affordable housing in new developments, and that doing so one again would set a poor precedent.

The committee voted 7-3 to defer the proposals, subject to further negotiations over provision of affordable housing.

In other planning news, plans for the 18-house redevelopment of the former Bain of Tarves site were delayed, after Cllr Johnston highlighted what he perceived to be irregularities with the site’s boundaries.

Cllr Loveday agreed that further investigation of the issue was needed, and the proposals would have to come back with further clarification from planning officers on the development’s exact borders, some of which were alleged to lie outwith the settlement boundary of Tarves.

Lastly, councillors rejected planners’ advice to turn down plans by Foveran business ‘The Store’ to erect a sign beside the A90.

Councillors disagreed with Transport Scotland’s assessment that the sign was an ‘unnecessary distraction’ for drivers, with Cllr Gillian Owen saying: “Transport Scotland’s £135,000 electronic sign between Balmedie and Foveran is a real unnecessary distraction.”

It was argued that there were no accidents associated with the sign, and that the prohibitive cost of formal signage acted as a disincentive for such signs to be erected.

Councillors gave The Store’s request approval, which will now go before Scottish Ministers.