Business Park set for refusal over gypsy site

The business park would have been situated on land adjacent to Tesco
The business park would have been situated on land adjacent to Tesco

Councillors at the Formartine Area Committee discussed plans to create a new business park at Balmacassie on Tuesday.

Plans for the new Business Park/Industrial Estate to the north of Balmacassie include planning permission for a hotel. The site’s location on the edge of Ellon means it is within the Blackdog to Peterhead Strategic Growth Corridor as well as the Energetica initiative.

In a report to councillors at the area committee, director of Infrastructure Services, Stephen Archer, said the planning application is recommended for refusual as it has failed to make land available for a Gypsy/Traveller site.

Discussing the plans, councillor Richard Thomson said: “What this comes down to is the issue of providing a traveller site.

“There is a recognisable need for a site across Aberdeenshire but as Ellon is a rapidly growing town there is a real need for additional employment and retail sites to cater for residents.”

The committee chair, councillor Rob Merson, added: “There is huge interest in the development of this site and I am concerned about anything that could jeopardise it.

“The Gypsy/Traveller issue needs to be addressed but I don’t think this is the optimum site available. I feel it is unfair to expect the developers to address what is a council issue and I would support the application as it is.”

Cllr Jim Gifford said: “The council should have addressed this a long time ago but if we don’t have dedicated Gypsy/Traveller sites we will continue to get camps across Aberdeenshire.

“This is a big site and I think the Gypsy/Traveller community could be accommodated here without any detrimental effect on surrounding businesses.”

Councillor Paul Johnston raised the issue of Aberdeenshire Council’s public equality policy and stated that the final decision should accomodate Gypsy Travellers.

A final decision will be made when the plan goes in front of Full Council.