By Paul Davison
The 2017 Aberdeenshire local development plan has now been published. On page 417 of the Garioch Settlement Statement the planners have included a map showing the green fields between School Road and the Tuach Burn as “employment land”.
You might think that the map shows an area of employment land in site OP1 agreed as part of the Kintore East Masterplan on 03 June 2014. You would be wrong. The map has been altered by an Aberdeenshire Council Planning Officer.
The “employment land” is actually part of the P1 protected land area. The map also blurs the boundaries between the P1/P6 protected land site sites and the M1 development site (as it was in 2014 - now renamed OP1 in the 2017 LDP).
Aberdeenshire Council states that “the plans in that document [masterplan] were simplified by this office and incorporated into the Local Development Plan. We accept that the plan included in the Local Development Plan was not approved by the Area Committee on that date but an interpretation of the broad transport and land use concepts put forward.”
The Council have reassured me the P1 and P6 protected land sites have been retained in the 2017 LDP, so the “employment land” designation is wishful thinking. But is it wishful thinking by the developer or by the council’s planning officers?
In the developer’s masterplan (the official one approved by the Garioch Councillors on June 3, 2014) the area was identified as: ‘open space, neighbourhood centre, commercial/community land, and P1 protected land’.
But none of the 20 maps in the masterplan identify the area in question as “employment land”. At the time, the developers were trying to persuade us that they were going to build an NHS healthcare centre on the fields. As a new Inverurie NHS health centre, 3½ miles away, is under construction, this now seems even less likely.
In their Planning Performance Framework No. 5 2015-16 publication, Aberdeenshire Council said this about the involvement of the Planning Dept Strategic Delivery Team in the Kintore East development:
“The Delivery Team were integral to the approval of the Development Framework for this site, and have continued their involvement by supporting the Case Officer with the Masterplan and Planning Application in Principle which are both now approved. …the consortium can move forward with Matters Specified in Conditions for the substantial infrastructure requirements on site, including the delivery of a new bridge across the Tuach Burn, and an employment area enabling the provision of much needed local facilities including retail. The Delivery Team are assisting with the co-ordination and assessment of the MSC Applications which are complex for a site of this size and continue to attend team meetings.”
So it seems to be council’s planners who want to turn the protected land into employment land. The council now report that “The developer has an aspiration to develop this site for commercial use”.I set out a timeline on Kintore.org.uk last October (Tuach Hill and the developers...public engagement?)
which set out concerns about proposed developments on Tuach Hill and described how it appears that Aberdeenshire Council Planning Service was colluding with the developers to enable a road and commercial building to be built on fields identified in the 2012 LDP as P1 protected land.
So this “error” presenting fiction as fact could be seen as a part of the ongoing effort by the developers and the Planning Dept Strategic Delivery Team to subvert the protected status of Tuach Hill and the surrounding area.
To keep it protected, we might have to fight the planners as well as the developers.
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