Government knocks back Haldanes plans

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PLANS for a new housing and retail development at the former site of Haldanes in Ellon have been dealt a blow, after the Government’s reporter backed Aberdeenshire Council’s refusal to grant planning permission.

The proposals - which include 62 flats overlooking the River Ythan, along with space for retail units, had attracted criticism locally for the density of the development, the impact the on the town’s river frontage, and the size of the proposed retail units. Residents had also raised concerns that the new buildings would block the river view from Ythan Terrace.

After significant debate, councillors rejected the plans at Formartine Area Committee in March this year, on the grounds that the development could not be comfortably accommodated on the site in question. The decision was appealed, however the government reporter’s decision has also gone against the plans.

In his report, Government Reporter RW Maslin said: “My conclusion is that the scale of the proposed development as illustrated in the application drawings is excessive and does not accord with the development plan.”

“The height of the development would not relate well to that of the nearest buildings and would be over-development and so would not accord with the Development Brief.

However, he added that concerns about the small size of the proposed units were not a material consideration, and that the retail aspect of the proposals would have had an overall beneficial impact on the town centre.

He said: “I find that creation of 1,000 square metres of new retail floorspace on the appeal site would have a beneficial effect on the town centre in that it would replace floorspace that is unused and unlikely to be re-used. This would accord with policy in the local development plan and its supplementary guidance.

Architect William Lippe told the Times: “The reporter refused the application on completely different grounds to those the council gave - he had no concerns about the retail element of the development.

“At this stage, we’re waiting to see what sort of revised design brief the owner comes back to us with. We’ll have to take it from there.”

As well as the Warsash Properties application, the site is subject to a second application from Aberdeen-based Carden Studios, with proposals for a development incorporating ‘health, retail and residential uses.’ These proposals remain at the planning stage.