Former Ellon Academy development plans need ‘tidied up’

Plans to build 40 new homes on the site of the former Ellon Academy have been deferred.

Thursday, 19th November 2020, 6:00 am

The proposal would see 16 houses and 24 flats built on the western side of the site along with associated infrastructure including car parking space and an open “home zone” space for residents.

A masterplan was agreed by the Formartine Area Committee in April that would see the development of housing, community facilities and office space on the two former Ellon Academy sites.

Aberdeenshire Council planners recommended the plans be given a delegated grant and would be approved subject to conditions.

The plans received 31 objections raising concerns on issues including lack of shops, lack of community facilities and overprovision of housing on the site and wider area.

At the Formartine Area Committee meeting this week Aberdeenshire Council’s Principal Architect Craig Matheson told councillors that the development would “contribute to addressing local housing need in the Formatine area” and once complete would “add to Aberdeenshire Council’s stock of social rent housing”.

He added that there was “a demonstrated need for housing” in Ellon with the current waiting list at 333.

Local resident and objector Carol Wright spoke at the meeting to voice the concerns of herself and her neighbours.

She said that while they didn’t object to the affordable housing on the site they did have strong concerns regarding the eight houses planned for Schoolhill Road and the loss of “favourable” green street scape.

Ms Wright added that the eight homes are in “extreme close proximity to the road” and raised this as a safety issue.

She also mentioned that the railings in place at the moment have been hit by vehicles in the past and added that the new properties would not have this protection should an incident occur in the future.

Commenting Councillor Anouk Kloppert said she didn’t feel enough had been done to prevent tree loss on the site.

Fellow councillor Louise McAllister added that there was a “need to have housing in Ellon” and said it comes with a cost, in this case it would be the loss of trees.

She said: “In all honesty I’m still torn. It is definitely a head and heart decision, we love our trees, we love our green spaces but we need the housing and that’s the balance that we need to strike.”

Meanwhile committee chair, Councillor Isobel Davidson, raised a number of concerns including the location of bin storage, removal of the existing pedestrian crossing on Golf Road and lack of infrastructure planned for the development such as electric vehicle charging points.

She said she was “very disappointed” with plans to remove the crossing and added: “I absolutely understand that this pedestrian crossing is in the wrong place but it would be essential to move it to the south of the new road so that children going to Ellon Primary School can cross the road safely.”

Cllr Davidson suggested to defer the plan in order to “tidy up” a number of issues raised by councillors.

Cllr Jim Gifford added: “This is clearly a very high profile site, raised a lot of interest in the town and quite rightly so but I think there is a balance to be struck between getting the best use out of a very large site – we have an absolute demand for housing, they are not coming forward in any other places so we have to deal with the one that’s infront of us that is going to give us what we are looking for.”

Councillors agreed to defer the application to seek clarification on a number of matters including the location of bin storage, boundary treatment on the south of the site, the pedestrian crossing, traffic on Schoolhill Road, the finish of the buildings and electric vehicle charging points.

The application is expected to come back to committee on Tuesday, December 8.