Focus on travellers’ site

BUCHAN councillors have voiced concerns that more public consultations are required on the plans for an official stopover travellers site at Aikey Brae just outside Old Deer.

Several sites have been examined by Aberdeenshire Council over recent months, but the compass point has swung back to Aikey which has long held links with gypsies and other travellers.

Consultations with local communities on the proposal will begin with a presentation to Deer Community Council at its meeting on Thursday, March 14.

The community will have its say on the formal planning application of formalising the site as a year-round stopover site as part of the council’s statutory planning process.

A report went before the Buchan Area Committee on Tuesday and councillors decided further debate could not take place until public comments are gathered.

Councillor Edie Chapman voiced concerns that the proposals should be discussed further than Deer.

Buchan area manager Chris White replied, saying he suspects the invitiation will be extended to surrounding areas including Stuartfield.

Sites at Peterhead and Fraserburgh have been deemed unsuitable as they are both along coastal roads, while the land at Ellon is not suitable as it is close to the town centre and travellers prefer not to be located close to town centres.

The two areas of land in Macduff are unsuitable as one is in the centre of an industrial area, which is not ideal for families and encampments with horses, and the other site has been let for industrial development.

Ritchie Johnson, director of Housing & Social Work, said: “The site at Aikey Brae, just outside Old Deer, which has been used for many years as an unauthorised encampment is considered a feasible option as it continues to be used regularly by the travelling community.”

The proposal for developing the site includes the provision of a waterpipe, portaloos and refuse facilities to be routinely managed by the Housing Service. Signage is to be erected indicating the pitches on the site.

To bring the site up to an acceptable standard as a stopover site, works will include provision of 14 pitches, new fencing, hard standing areas, associated landscaping works and the provision of a water supply via a standpipe.

Planning applications for the site will be released after consultations are complete and the area will remain as it stands until development begins.