Proposed Aberdeen City & Shire Strategic Development Plan out for consultation

At the full council meeting back in September, the Proposed Aberdeen City & Shire Strategic Development Plan (SDP) was ratified after having been agreed by members of the SDPA and also ratified by Aberdeen City council members. The proposed plan is now open for public consultation and comments can be made until 17th December 2018.

More information on the Proposed SDP can be found here and a copy of the response form is below:


You will see in the proposed plan that western expansion is still considered to be premature and is not supported at this time until a range of studies is undertaken which will include an appraisal of the effect of the AWPR.


Update on the Local Development Plan 2021

The following slides are the latest updates from Aberdeenshire Council on progress to date on the next Local Development Plan (LDP). Please do sign up for updates through the council’s newletter – contact details on the last slide. The draft Main Issues Report (MIR) came before councillors at Garioch Area Committee last week and comments made there will be presented to the Infrastructure Services Committee on 29th November. You can see at this time which of the bid sites are recommended by officers to be taken forward in the next plan period. The report before Garioch Area Committee can be found here under item 6.

The formal public consultation period for the Main Issues Report will commence early January 2019, closing 8 April 2019 therefore all information being made publically available at this time is for information only. Community councils are being asked to gather views and co-ordinate a collective submission during the January to April public consultation period.

Cluny, Midmar & Monymusk community council round up

Cluny, Midmar & Monymusk Community Council also held their AGM – last night in Midmar Hall. Richard Fyffe was duly re-elected as Chair with Peter Fraser Vice Chair. Judy Stokoe was re-appointed as Treasurer, Maureen Clark Minutes Secretary, Richard Fyffe as acting Secretary and it was proposed that Hugh Falconer would be co-opted at the next meeting.

The Chair thanked the Garioch Area office for their help throughout the year. The main work of the community council during the next year will include the outcomes from the Place Standards exercise. It was noted that police attendance had recently dropped off although reports were still being received. Residents remain frustrated by the lack of progress on the Sauchen to Cluny path.

In the report sent from Police Scotland for the period May and June, there were reports of sheep worrying (undetected), drink driving (detected), theft of number plates (undetected) and vandalism (undetected) in the Cluny, Midmar and Monymusk area.


Echt & Skene Community Council feedback

Last Wednesday, I attended Echt & Skene Community Council AGM. The group still have two vacancies so please get in touch with them if you are interested in being a community councillor. Fiona Bick was re-elected as Chairperson with Nick Pilbeam Vice Chair. Brian Poppleton and John Foulkes were appointed Treasurer and Secretary respectively.

Future meetings (all at 7.30pm) are:

Wednesday 8th August 2018  – Dunecht Hall

Wednesday 19th September 2018 – Garlogie Hall

Wednesday 31st October 2018 – Milne Hall, Kirkton of Skene

Wednesday 12th December  2018 – Lyne of Skene Hall

Wednesday 30th January 2019 – Echt Hall

Wednesday 13th March 2019 – Dunecht Hall

Wednesday 24th April 2019 – Garlogie Hall

Wednesday 12th June 2019 – Lyne of Skene (AGM)

City & Shire Strategic Development Plan – have your say!

What is the Strategic Development Plan (SDP)?

Strategic Development Plans are prepared for Scotland’s four largest city-regions: Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh and Glasgow. The SDP for Aberdeen City and Shire sets out priorities for the long-term development of the region, and focuses on key issues such as transport, economy, retail, housing and greenspace.

The Main Issues Report

The current SDP for Aberdeen City and Shire was approved in March 2014 and both councils are in the process of reviewing this Plan to ensure it is kept up to date. The Main Issues Report is the first formal stage in the review process – it describes and invites discussion on options for future policies, as well as employment and housing supply targets for the next Plan. The Report includes 12 Main Issues and 16 Questions for comment. The results of this consultation will inform the preparation of a ‘Proposed Strategic Development Plan’ which will be subject to further consultation in late 2018. The closing date for responses to this first stage is 12pm on Monday 21st May 2018.

You will find the consultation document here.

Issues of particular interest to Westhill and District include the potential growth West of Aberdeen (A93 and A944). The report states that “Westhill and Banchory continue to be attractive to the development industry. However, there are significant infrastructure challenges (particularly for transport and education) if there is to be growth. The extent of the transport challenges and the action needed will not be certain until a City Region Deal appraisal of the effect of the AWPR is completed and any necessary solutions can be identified. While opening the AWPR will have a significant effect on settlements to the West, current transport modelling suggests it is unlikely to create any room for growth. The reports goes on to say that “we therefore think it would be a very risk strategy to identify western expansion for strategic levels of growth before a realistic and deliverable solution is identified…”

Furthermore, Main Issue 3 adds that it is important that the free flow of traffic and the junction capacity of the new road (AWPR) are protected and not affected by development taking place which would have a negative effect on the road and its junctions. The preferred option would be for the next SDP to be clear about the need to avoid high footfall-generating uses near the AWPR’s junctions and to make it explicit that any development proposals should only come through the full and open development plan process.

With regards to housing, between 2011 and 2016, a total of 11,433 homes were built (2,769 fewer than the SDP requirement). Private-sector completions were 165 units more than the requirements identified in the Housing Need and Demand Assessment (2011) but delivery of affordable housing fell almost 3,000 units short of the need that was identified. Do you agree with the housing targets suggested in the Main Issues Report?

Main Issue 11 looks at Housing Land Allowances. The preferred option here allows delivery of new homes consistently at levels not seen for 20 years and provides 28% generosity on top of the housing supply target. Without this extra level of generosity, the Local Development Plans (LDPs which I mention in previous posts and which are also in the process of review) would not be able to identify any significant new housing allocations up to 2030. Do you agree that the preferred option should allow LDPs to make some further housing allocations.

Why should you become involved?

Becoming involved in the development plan preparation gives you an opportunity at the earliest possible stage to have a say in shaping the future of your community and environment. Making your opinions known at this stage can be much more effective than trying to influence decisions on planning applications later on. No setttled view on the content of the next SDP has yet been reached, making the Main Issues Report a key stage for public consultation.


Large number of bids received for development around Westhill and District in the new LDP

As part of the preparation of the Local Development Plan (LDP) 2021, Aberdeenshire Council invited applicants to nominate land for development (known as the ‘Call for Sites’ stage). This stage ran from 3rd January until 31st March 2018. During this period, any interested parties could submit a ‘bid’ to have land allocated for housing, business or mixed use development. The council received in excess of 500 bids from landowners, developers and agents.

‘Call for Sites’ is the first formal stage in developing the new LDP. The next step is to assess all submitted bids. The assessment then forms the basis of the Main Issues Report. You can stay up to date by viewing regular updates on the Local Development Plan progress here.

I have set out the bids by area. It is normal practice for developers to approach community councils for support for their bids so please do keep in touch with your local community council and look for further updates here and on the council website.


120 houses at Land at Kinmundy Westhill

180 houses at Land at Strawberry Fields, Westhill

100 houses (phase 1) on Land to the west of Westhill south of the A944

500 houses (phase 2) on Land to the west of Westhill south on the A944

2,500 houses plus 2 primary schools and a secondary school including integrated community and leisure facilities, and a neighbourhood centre (incorporating phases 1 and 2 above) on Land to the Westhill south of the A944 and north of B9119

77 houses Mains of Kinmundy – 1

87 houses Mains of Kinmundy – 2 

Up to 100 houses at Brodiach

250 houses Broadshade

750-900 houses at Damhead/Cadgerford, Backhill, Westhill

6 houses land north of Keirhill Way

70 houses plus public park and practice area for Westhill Golf Club on land at Souterhill Farm, Westhill

12 houses Hill of Keir

Mixed class development including Business, General Industrial, Storage and Distribution and Hotel Arnhill Phase 4

100 houses at Cairnfield, Westhill

35 houses north of Meadowlands (phase 1)

40 houses north of Meadowlands (phase 2)

49 houses site adjacent to Westhill Drive (north west of Meadowlands)

Housing (numbers to be confirmed) at Former Blockworks site, Straik Road, Elrick

90 houses (in two phases) at Land at Mains of Keir

25 houses on site adjacent to Wester Ord Farmhouse


35-45 houses on land off Old Skene Road, Kirkton of Skene (near Kesson Gardens)

20-30 houses on land north of Glebe Land, Kirkton of Skene


5 houses on site to north of Little Acre, Lyne of Skene

15 houses on land north of Letter Road, Lyne of Skene

7 houses at Mains of Skene, Lyne of Skene

157 over three sites in Lyne of Skene village


25 houses on Land north of Forbes Park, Echt

28 houses on land south east of Echt, south of B9119

Employment use on land adjacent to Birchmoss Depot


15 houses at Burnside, Sauchen

40 houses Sauchen West phase 1

160 houses Sauchen West phase 1-4 (includes 40 above)

Retail use/coffee shop land to south west of Sauchen

6 houses south of Cluny Primary School

40-50 houses South Sauchen

100-120 houses South Sauchen

150 houses over 3 phases on land to North West of Sauchen


20 houses West of Midmar, near Midmar School

4 houses at Tillybirloch, Midmar

3 houses on land to East of 1 Marionburgh Cottages, Midmar

10 houses at Roadside of Corsindae, Midmar


15 houses at Roadside of Garlogie


8 houses on land adjacent to Flora’s, Cullerlie


50 houses on land immediately to the north of Dunecht, adjacent B977











Bus Forum to meet in Westhill

The Garioch Bus Forum meets again on Thursday 22nd March at 7.30pm in the Staff Room at Westhill Academy. There will be representatives from Stagecoach and Aberdeenshire Council at the meeting to answer any questions and listen to local concerns. The Minutes from the last forum in August 2017 are attached where you can see the issues discussed/taken forward from that meeting.





Do City officials really back plans which have “no regard to the need for flexibility and realism”?

Behind the headlines last week that Aberdeen City planners were backing the Kingsford stadium proposal, which city councillors will determine tomorrow; if you have had time to read the plus-100 pages of the planners’ reports, you will find many contradictions and repeats of the word “nevertheless” and you may be left wondering why such a “willingness to approve subject to conditions” has been put down in black and white when planners state that “the applicant has not demonstrated the necessity of a single 25ha site”, “the location is not readily accessible by sustainable modes of transport”, and “the applicants have not demonstrated that proper consideration was given to accommodating the development in a different form, and having regard to the need for flexibility and realism”.

The report starts off with summaries of the representations; using the planners’ words. Where I have added my own words, these are in italics. I have highlighted some words in bold for easier reading. These issues, to my mind, have not been adequately addressed in their evaluation.

Roads Management Team, ACC
• Provision for travel to non-football events has not been made clear.
• Correspondence from the bus station’s commercial manager indicates that there is capacity to accommodate 10 additional X17 services per hour, but there is no mention of capacity to accommodate shuttle buses at the bus station
• The use of additional parking provision at Arnhall Business Park is an arrangement that would not normally be permitted. There is uncertainty over long term retention of any such spaces to be secured at Arnhall through similar arrangements, undermining aims to promote sustainable travel.
• There are concerns over the main access, principally in terms of road safety. Access arrangements of any description will likely place a burden on Police Scotland. Since Aberdeenshire Council just last week agreed not to decriminalise parking, a CPZ is unlikely to be top priority with Police Scotland in light of the extra burden on site at the stadium.
• The proposed signalisation of the AWPR/A944 roundabout could remove any potential queue back onto the AWPR mainline, but to the detriment of the local road network.

• Restated earlier position that the development in its current form and location does not accord with the SDP, would result in the loss of 25ha of Green Belt land and the coalescence of urban areas. The development is inappropriately sited, giving rise to unsustainable travel patterns in a manner contrary to the modal shift sought by the SDP. Further, there would be a negative impact on the city centre.
No indication is given on the potential visual impact of the footbridge on this important entrance to Westhill.

Aberdeenshire Council
Restates position that the economic impact on Aberdeenshire is likely to be fairly modest. Notes that there is no specific consideration of the impact on Westhill town centre, and highlights the negative impact due to loss of trade from customers avoiding or being unable to enjoy the existing level of convenience is an area of concern.

AWPR is not designed to facilitate development, but to alleviate congestion around Aberdeen. There would be a huge disruption to the local community on matchdays.

The report then goes on to discuss the Development Plan

D3 Big Buildings –
The most appropriate location for big buildings is within the city centre and its immediate periphery. Big buildings must be of a high quality design which complements or improves the existing site context.

The SDP sets out a series of key objectives for the growth of the City and Aberdeenshire. It is framed around a vision, spatial strategy and a series of aims and objectives; with those relating to economic growth, sustainable mixed communities, quality of environment and accessibility being the most relevant to this application. The SDP sets a strong framework for investment decisions, and its purpose is to focus the right development in the right places and to prevent inappropriate and poorly located development.

In terms of the plan’s spatial strategy, the proposed stadium falls within the outer edge of the Aberdeen City “Strategic Growth Area”. The plan explicitly supports the principle of the development of a “new community stadium, a regionally important facility which will bring economic, social and cultural benefits”. Two possible locations are identified – on and around the current stadium site at Pittodrie/Kings Links and to the south of the city as part of the Loirston development.

National Planning Policy and Guidance
In terms of promoting sustainable transport and active travel, paragraph 287 of SPP states in relation to Development Management functions that “Planning permission should not be granted for significant travel-generating uses at locations which would increase reliance on the car and where:
• Direct links to local facilities via walking and cycling networks are not available or cannot be made available;
• Access to local facilities via public transport networks would involve walking more than 400m; or
• The transport assessment does not identify satisfactory ways of meeting sustainable transport requirements.

I have left the reference numbers on if you want to refer to them in the report.

9.2 The proposed development relates to a site allocated in the Green Belt….. other elements (most notably the stadium itself) would cause a degree of harm in terms of the main aims of the Green Belt Policy. This is because of the dominant size of the stadium would intrude into, and erode, a green buffer which visually separates existing settlements of Kingswells and Westhill and contributes to maintaining their separate identities. Nevertheless, sufficient information has been submitted by the applicant to enable the officers to conclude that there are no other sites within Aberdeen and the area covered by the ALDP that would be suitable….

9.4 The applicant has not definitively demonstrated the necessity of a single 25ha site, but the planners go on to say…. Nevertheless…

9.5 …. The location, within the green belt, is not readily accessible by sustainable modes of transport…. This would be mitigated to some extent by shuttle buses (where there is no guarantee they could be facilitated at Aberdeen Bus station) … together with the provision of off-site parking (again the Arnhall parking has not been guaranteed, and cannot be).

9.38 Co-location of Stadium and Training Facilities
The question of ‘need’ is central to consideration of this application. ‘Need’ is relevant to the overall assessment of the application and its Kingsford location against the LDP. The personal circumstances of the applicants are of limited relevance. The planners go on to say that “the extent to which they are reliant on a co-located development is considered to remain unsubstantiated. Put another way, there is no compelling evidence provided to demonstrate that these same benefits could not be reasonably achieved with a new stadium and training facilities in separate locations”.

The Aberdeen City Council LOIP as mentioned under 9.56 in that it supports the work of AFCCT would stand wherever the trust is based. Both Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire Council provide financial support to AFCCT and the trust would continue to operate successfully from their various outreach centres within city and shire, regardless of where they are based.

9.59 It is considered that the potential benefits of the proposed development have been demonstrated. However, there is no evidence to suggest that the benefits identified are unique to the Kingsford location.

9.63 The applicants’ requirements for (i) a single, co-located development comprising stadium and training facility; and (ii) a site of at least 25ha – are not decisive. The Council requires to be persuaded that they are justified in the planning context.

9.64 On that basis, it is therefore considered that in developing their proposals in accordance with the relevant policies, the applicants have not demonstrated that proper consideration was given to accommodating the development in a different form, and having regard to the need for flexibility and realism.

9.65 There appears to have been little consideration given to sites other than those which could accommodate the applicants’ stated requirements for co-located facilities. However, even if there is a need for co-location, the Council still requires on that basis to be satisfied that the sequential approach has been properly addressed. The expectation remains that the applicants will assess alternative sites having adopted a flexible and realistic approach. It appears that the proposal has evolved without proper consideration being given to whether development in an alternative form would, or could, be more appropriate. It is considered that the applicants have not adopted the flexible approach required.

9.66 It is noted also that the alternative sites considered by the applicants in the Environmental Statement and in the later statement on ‘Co-Location, Site Selection and Sequential Test’ refers to ‘advantages and disadvantages’ throughout, with the ES concluding that the alternative sites present no ‘significant advantages’ to the Kingsford site. This is a further indication that the applicants have approached the consideration of alternative sites and application of the sequential approach from a perspective of advantage to the applicants’ interests, rather than an objective assessment. This approach is reinforced by the November 2017 Supporting Statement, which refers (at 2.15-2.18) to capital costs and operational expenditure as guiding AFC’s consideration of sites.

9.68 The preceding text explains why it is considered that the applicant has not carried out the sequential approach with flexibility and realism in accordance with SPP, ALDP policy and case law.

Some further paragraphs contradict some of the previous statements by saying such as (re Loirston) “sale of land within Loirston site is not ruled out, however Hermiston’s letter confirms that full residential value would be sought”.

9.102 It should be noted that the lack of suitable, deliverable and available sites in sequentially preferable locations does not in itself justify the application site at Kingsford.

Transport and Accessibility
The initial TAA incorporated a further supporter survey, carried out by Aberdeen and Grampian Chamber of Commerce (AGCC). Whilst the sample size and return rate are considered sufficient to provide a representative sample, the Council’s RDM Team has expressed concern regarding the methodology used in conducting this survey. The AGCC survey, in addressing chosen mode of travel, relates entirely to travel to the current Pittodrie site. The survey results seem to back up a view that people will walk further to football matches than might otherwise be assumed, and therefore demonstrate that the city centre and its public transport connections across the region are relatively accessable from Pittodrie. By contrast, the Kingsford site is in a peripheral location on the edge of the city, where it would be heavily reliant on a combination of car borne travel and dedicated match day shuttle services from the city centre.

The requirement of a CPZ will need to be addressed through a “Grampian condition”. This type of condition is used to grant permission which is conditional upon something else happening first (in this case the requirement for implementation of a CPZ) but without specifying who is responsible for its implementation. A further Grampian condition would be required for the footbridge across the A944. A third Grampian condition would be required to upgrade the core paths.

City Councillors have a task ahead of them tomorrow. I would hope that the following statement within the report is foremost in their minds:


To be clear, I acknowledge the body of support for a new stadium at Kingsford. I support the club in its aspirations for a new stadium. When determining planning applications, councillors are acting in a quasi-judicial basis. This means they are more tightly governed by legislation than most of the other decisions they make and should take heed of their own Local Development Plans (LDPs) and planning policies. The LDP allows democratic discussions about land use and all applicants are afforded equal opportunity to make bids for sites at the appropriate time. Equally, residents are afforded the same chance to have their say on any bids. Developers are well aware of the time scales for bids. Both developers and the public must have confidence in the local planning process. Approving this development would undermine this trust.

Full report can be accessed here.