Echt & Skene Community Council round up

Echt & Skene Community Council held their AGM last Wednesday evening. Office bearers were confirmed as:

Chair: Fiona Bick, Vice Chair: Nick Pilbeam, Secretary: tbc, Treasurer: tbc

The Chair reported on successes over the last year which included the provision of a bus shelter at Lyne of Skene Hall, improvements to the Garlogie footpath, Carpenter Croft flood relief measures, helping to fund defibrillators in Dunecht and Skene as well as funding improvements to local halls. They also contributed comprehensively to the Local Development Plan process.

The community council welcomed two new members; Steve Gibson and Neil MacBeath. There are still two vacancies which can be filled throughout the year if anyone comes forward.

I was delighted to present John Foulkes, on behalf of Aberdeenshire Council, a long service certificate. John has served on Echt & Skene since 1986 (with a two year breather in 1988/89). He has been Chair and Secretary in the past; at one time fulfilling both roles at the same time. John has always been up for cross-boundary working, supporting Westhill and Elrick Community Council on issues that affect both areas and networking with the wider Aberdeenshire community councils through the Garioch Community Council Forum. I know some groups struggle to keep volunteers because of one-issue agendas, but I think it is safe to say that as John stuck around for more than thirty years, he definitely saw the big picture!

I was able to give an update on the Skene School safety issue. The Head Teacher and the Quality Improvement Officer for Aberdeenshire Council are in discussions around improvements to the car parking area. The Roads service have advised that the repainting of the white lines near the school crossing will not be done until well in to the summer break. There are plans to add a new “SLOW” marking on the approach to the school as well. Councillor McKail is following up progress on the latest speed survey.

The following dates/venues have been agreed for the next Community Council year:

Thursday 1st August 2019 – Milne Hall, Kirkton of Skene

Thursday 5th September 2019 – Echt Hall

Thursday 31st October 2019 – Dunecht Hall

Thursday 19th December 2019 – Lyne of Skene Hall

Thursday 30th January 2020 – Garlogie Hall

Thursday 19th March 2020 – Milne Hall, Kirkton of Skene

Thursday 30th April 2020 – Echt Hall

Thursday 18th June 2020 (AGM) – Dunecht Hall

Meeting to discuss bus services in Garioch

The Garioch Bus Forum meets again on Wednesday 22nd May 2019 from 1900-2130 hrs in the Council Chamber, Gordon House, Inverurie. Attendees will have a chance to raise issues relevant to their own area and in addition, on this occasion, bus operators and the Council wish to hold a short discussion (of up to 20 minutes) on Inverurie bus services and seek people’s views on the current levels and coverage of the town, including suggestions on where improvements could be considered.

If you wish to provide comments but cannot attend on the night, please email: public.transport@aberdeenshire.gov.uk

The Minutes of the previous meeting can be found here:

The Agenda for the next meeting is below.

Planning boss responds to Kingsford queries

Following a number of representations to local councillors and council officers, the Head of Planning for Aberdeenshire Council has provided the following response:

“I write with reference to your recent correspondence.  Aberdeenshire Council is receiving a high volume of letters and emails that raise a range of concerns about the Judicial Review judgement issued on 1 March 2019 and the next steps in the process as Aberdeen Football Club (AFC) and the AFC Community Trust proceed with their development at the Kingsford site.

As a consequence, the following response is of a general nature, but I hope it provides you with answers to the questions you have asked.  For those who believe that any comments received to date will be passed to Councillors at the time a future planning application is lodged, I am afraid I must advise that this is not the case.  Any comments you wish to make on a specific planning application must be addressed to the relevant Council during the statutory notification period that applies.

Phase 2 and the Conditions

Aberdeen City Council has applied a number of significant conditions to the decision to grant full planning permission for the development.  Of note and particular interest to Aberdeenshire Council and residents are:

Condition 5 – That no development within Phase 2 (stadium) shall take place unless a Traffic Regulation Order (TRO) has been granted for the implementation of a Controlled Parking Zone (CPZ) extending to an area which covers all roads and streets within Westhill and Elrick which lie within a 30 minute walk-time of the application site.  Thereafter, the stadium shall not be brought into use unless a CPZ has been so implemented.

Condition 6 – That no development within Phase 2 (stadium) shall be undertaken unless a scheme detailing a safe means for pedestrians to cross the A944 between Arnhall Business Park and the application site has been submitted to and agreed in writing by the Planning Authority.

Condition 7 – That the stadium shall not be brought into use unless the agreed means (secured by Condition 6) of ensuring safe pedestrian crossing over the A944 between Arnhall Business Park and the application site has been implemented in full.

With regard to the CPZ (condition 5), Aberdeenshire Council has begun to consider the implications of this on Westhill and what a CPZ might look like.  The first stage in developing a CPZ would be the Traffic Regulation Order (TRO), which either Aberdeenshire Council or the Scottish Government could promote.  Neither the applicant nor Aberdeen City Council could promote the order.

Aberdeenshire Council is aware that the promotion, implementation and on-going cost of managing a CPZ would have significant financial implications. The Council is exploring options to meet these costs.   The issue of clarifying a mechanism for ensuring the applicant is liable for this cost is unresolved.

The A944 crossing (conditions 6 & 7), is deemed necessary because the applicant hopes to secure several hundred parking spaces within the Arnhall / Kingshill Business Park.  Aberdeenshire Council does not currently know where these are located or indeed if agreement is in place with any of the businesses.  The logical means of crossing the A944 would be via a footbridge.  The role Aberdeenshire Council would have in that issue depends on the location of any proposed footbridge.  If it lies (wholly or partly) within Aberdeenshire a planning application would be determined by Aberdeenshire Council. If it is located fully within Aberdeen City, Aberdeenshire Council would most likely be consulted and would put comments to Aberdeen City.  A view cannot be given on the acceptability or visual impact of any bridge until a location and detailed design is available.

Aberdeenshire Council currently has no formal role in checking the Travel Plan and Transport Management Strategy (condition 23), this will be for Aberdeen City Council to audit and approve although it is likely that Aberdeenshire Council will be consulted.

Aberdeenshire Council has recently written to Aberdeen City Council to ask when it envisages we may become involved in discussions on the above conditions.  The City Council has responded that it will engage with Aberdeenshire Council at the appropriate stage.  Primarily, it is the applicant’s responsibility to instigate such discussions with Aberdeen City Council but Aberdeenshire Council would welcome the opportunity to begin conversations on these matters and get a better understanding of what is proposed.

It is Aberdeen City Council’s responsibility to determine if the applicant has complied with the conditions set out in its decision.  Aberdeenshire Council will engage with Aberdeen City Council on any matters affecting Aberdeenshire, but enforcement of the planning conditions remains the responsibility of Aberdeen City Council.  Responsibility for enforcing a CPZ would fall to Police Scotland should any unlawful / obstructive parking take place.

Traffic and Congestion

Aberdeenshire Council raised a number of concerns about traffic and congestion in its responses to Aberdeen City Council during the determination of the planning application and its objections to it were partly based on assumptions and deficiencies it perceived in the transport information submitted.  However, as the application has now been determined, there is no opportunity to revisit this issue and the impact of the stadium on the local and wider road network will emerge in due course.  Aberdeenshire Council will of course monitor the impact on Aberdeenshire roads and take any appropriate action in its role as the Transportation and Roads Authorities.

Other Matters

Questions posed about why the stadium is needed, what risks and assessments were undertaken and anti-social behaviour are not for Aberdeenshire Council to address.  Matters related to noise and light pollution were considered as part of the planning application and were concluded to be acceptable or capable of being resolved through condition.  Once the stadium is operational, any noise complaints will be investigated by Aberdeen City Council as Environmental Health Authority.

Conclusion

It is recognised that, whilst many people look forward to the opening of the new training facilities and eventually the stadium, a significant proportion of the local population is extremely concerned about the impacts it could have on Westhill.  Aberdeenshire Council did not consider this to be an appropriate location for such a facility but must accept that due process has been followed.  Its role moving forward will be to engage with Aberdeen City Council and, if appropriate, with the applicant.

Councillors within Aberdeenshire are very aware of the issues involved and are being briefed at appropriate stages.  They may be asked at a future date to make decisions on the matters arising from this project. If they want to be involved in those decisions they cannot indicate their support or otherwise for this project, nor how they will view any future proposals. If a Councillor were to do so they would require to remove themselves from any future decision making process.

I hope the above has answered any questions you had on our current understanding of the position.”

Have your say on the Local Development Plan Main Issues Report

The next Local Development Plan (LDP) 2021, once agreed, will shape our area for the next number of years and determine where new development will take place, whether it is new homes, offices, retail or leisure facilities. Aberdeenshire Council Planning Policy Team have been working hard to prepare a Main Issues Report (MIR) to support the preparation of the new LDP, carrying out consultation with local councillors and key stakeholders. It is now YOUR turn to have a say on the suggested policy changes and the planners’ preferred sites from over forty bids lodged by developers for land in Westhill, Elrick, Kirkton of Skene, Lyne of Skene, Garlogie, Echt, Dunecht, Midmar, Sauchen and Cullerlie. The consultation can be accessed here.

Responses must be made in writing by Monday 8th April. Response forms are online, in libraries and in the Area Office at Gordon House, Inverurie.
You may think that any future development in the local area must be backed up by appropriate infrastructure first; or it may be your view that there should be no further major development locally at all; or indeed you may welcome lots of new opportunities for development! One aspect residents should be aware of is the proposals being submitted to Aberdeen City Council as part of their Local Development Plan – some of which will affect Westhill and the surrounding rural areas. Although your elected representatives have no say in Aberdeen City planning matters, you can make representations to the Aberdeen City MIR too. My next post will take you to the Aberdeen City maps and bids.

Don’t forget, there is a drop in session on Thursday 21st February from 1230-1900 hrs at Holiday Inn, Westhill where you can meet the planners and discuss any aspect of the Main Issues Report.

Does Bonfire Night still light your fire or is it a damp squib?

It’s the time of year when residents raise some issues around firework displays and bonfires. The Scottish Fire & Rescue Service issue very good advice on staying safe and encourage people to attend organised events. Although there are a number of nearby events, Westhill has not held an organised public bonfire or firework display for many years now and I know this is something many residents would welcome. Any public event would need good organisation as well as public liability insurance, but lots of communities manage to put on a great display.

There is always concern over pets at this time of year as they can get very distressed by sudden, prolonged and loud noises. There have been horrific stories in the news about members of the public and fire officers being injured by anti-social use of fireworks.

Whether you love fireworks or dread the weeks leading up to 5th November, I would like to hear your views. Please complete the attached survey.

https://goo.gl/forms/BuVxtT3LI4sMEfeQ2

Applications now open for volunteer snow wardens!

“Many people will remember a time when getting involved in local snow clearing wasn’t that rare an occurrence and people now have even higher expectations about their ability to travel in bad weather.”

Applications are now being taken for Aberdeenshire’s volunteer snow warden scheme, aimed at supporting and assisting communities and individuals to increase their resilience to winter weather.

Although recent years have been variable in terms of snowfall, last year was particularly notable for the ice which formed where snow couldn’t be cleared quickly enough from surfaces.

Many communities, such as those within the Cairngorms National Park, are well prepared for winter, getting regular snow, but others can be caught by surprise.

Establishing a volunteer snow warden scheme in a community with direct support from the council is one way to increase resilience to winter events, expected or not.

Aberdeenshire Council’s Head of Roads, Philip McKay, said: “It seems fairly obvious to point out the sheer physical size of our area, perhaps not so much the substantial areas of road and pavement surfaces which stretch to about 3370 miles in length, 10.3% of the non-trunk road network in Scotland.

“Despite their experience and dedication our teams cannot keep all surfaces clear at all times when snow is falling with the resources available.

“One way to increase the resource available is to equip and train volunteers in local areas who can see the value and sense in being part of keeping their community moving.

“Many people will remember a time when getting involved in local snow clearing wasn’t that rare an occurrence and people now have even higher expectations about their ability to travel in bad weather.”

You can find out more about the scheme here.

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:

Proposed_SDP_Response_Form_2018

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.