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.

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:


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