Community ActionKey IssuesNo Kingsford Stadium

Notes from Public meeting, 1st Nov, held by WECC

Chaired by Doug Milne (Area Manager, Aberdeenshire Council).  Westhill Holiday Inn. 7 – 9pm. Notes taken and transcribed by member of No Kingsford Stadium group, any errors or omissions are entirely my own and I apologise in advance for any errors therein.  ACC = Aberdeen City Council, AFC = Aberdeen Football Club, DM = Doug Milne, Shire = Aberdeenshire Council, WECC = Westhill and Elrick Community Council Intro from Doug Milne.  He is a Westhill resident, not a WECC member.  Has to remain neutral.  His role is gathering thoughts and questions.  Becky (WECC) will gather questions and points and put on WECC Facebook page.  Please put up your hands.  Everyone has a right to express an opinion.  He is not representing ACC or AFC.  AFC couldn’t make the date and are not attending the meeting. DM – the proposals are for training pitches, car parks, 20,000 seater stadium.  ACC are the planning authority.  The Shire doesn’t determine this.  It will though go to the Shire Garioch committee who will send comments to ACC.  WECC are not statutory consultees but they can comment as can anyone.  Once the planning application goes live, probably early December – representations can be made by individuals or groups.  Shire have less control than they would have if it were an application within the Shire.  Will be determined by summer 2017.   24th Nov there will be an open public meeting held at Pittodrie by AFC with display of info.   AFC have said they want to put in full planning application by early December. Q from Floor – Nearly 100 CCTV cameras in the City, monitored by civilians in control room and police directed from there.  There are still hooligans, it is only because policing is the way it is that it is not like it was in the 70s and 80s.  These hooligans don’t use the supporters buses, to avoid detection, they travel via trains and hired minibuses.  They could be coming in from anywhere, so it affects a very widespread area.  Westhill has 4 bars, spread out, with no CCTV at all.  Consider how far the CCTV and police would have to monitor – the whole road and path network.  Would people want the intrusion?  How would people be kept safe on public transport?  Who pays for this?  They will also be closing the control room in Aberdeen and moving it to Dundee so it will be made more difficult. DM – no plans at the moment so they can’t say. From the floor – (AFC supporter).  Cup final few years ago, 40,000 AFC fans mixing with Inverness fans, how many arrests?  No trouble.  (Consternation from audience.) DM – calls for order. From the floor – there is a boundary we can’t cross in terms of planning, and yet the issues like fans and noise cross the boundary (the Shire/City boundary).  Not fair. DM – that’s the set up.  The Shire is not the planning authority.  We can express an opinion, but that’s the democratic process.  Not good that Shire have little control. Reply from floor (to hooliganism question) – recent Rangers game – seats and coins thrown, casuals causing trouble on Castlegate and King Street,  game with Maribor – Boxing Day match with Dundee, 2014? – Admiral bar in Dundee – it’s all on You Tube.  Hooliganism does still happen.  (Audience claps.) Q from Floor – The existing roads, pavements and cycle path infrastructure will all require considerable modifications to them to facilitate the safe transport of vehicles, people and cyclists on the roads and pavements around the proposal development.  It won’t be the first time in Westhill a developer has made promises to the community about infrastructure being put in place to support a development that has never materialised.  Given that a 2016 independent review of the Scottish planning system recommends an infrastructure first approach to planning and development, what assurances can we have that these infrastructure modifications will be a condition of planning and will be in place prior to construction of any of the phases of the development. DM – In the Shire, the council would insist on a section 75 legal agreement.  Clearly AFC proposals will have an impact and he imagines the planners will feedback on the required infrastructure.  They have a developer’s obligations team – who negotiate with a developer to get that kind of infrastructure.  Sadly, planning law often favours the developer.  Some developers pay up but for specific things.  It won’t be the taxpayer that pays for this.  There are not guarantees.  Some developers don’t deliver, some do. Q from floor – I’ve read the newsletter.  Good.  2 applications previously, both rejected.  Area unsuitable, pipelines etc., as far as I know nothing has changed since those applications, so why are we even considering a development like this? DM – we are not, in terms of the Shire, it’s ACC and AFC considering it.  There are policies they have to consider, greenbelt etc., so ACC planners will have to take those into account.  Point taken, why are they considering this when previous applications have been rejected? From the floor – The other development was a golf driving range – reasons for rejection were light pollution and out of character with local area, so this will have 7 floodlit pitches and a 7 storey building – lots of light pollution and very out of character. From the floor – another thing- there is a soakaway at the bottom of the Lawsondale pitches so building on this land would increase flooding at houses on Lawsondale Drive and parking facilities are inadequate. DM – they would have to do a flood assessment.  WECC want to see the parking plans. From the floor – Westhill resident- Ashdale Hall executive member.  The hall is used all the time – people won’t be able to park in Aldi or the shops as there will be time restrictions so he thinks people will park in the hall car park and the church.  Hall will have to have security on the car park. DM – I’ve had discussion with my colleagues in transport and have been advised there will be parking restrictions put in place. Q from floor – how will that be policed?  How will that be paid for? DM – football clubs are charged for policing.  Someone shouts out ‘only inside the stadium’. Q from floor – logistics – 13,000 people on buses – a lot of buses.  Some in cars, go to park and ride, walk up beside bypass and under bridge to ground, won’t work.  Should the transport assessment not be done by a 3rd party (independent of AFC)? DM – the transport assessment is assessed by the council.  There are tools to check the accuracy of these things – computer programmes to be run.  AFC does have to convince the planners that the transport strategy is credible.  We don’t know the details yet.  We can see the details when it goes live. From the floor – people who have stayed in Westhill for years – “this will change Westhill forever”. Houses will be devalued. DM – that is a legitimate concern that we will record. From the floor – we don’t want this, it will devalue my house right away. From the floor – I’ve been a resident here since 1986.  Pittodrie benefits from rail and road links, Kingsford has only road so there will be congestion on the roads.  Road closures, so there would be restricted access to ARI to the west of the Shire via the A944.  “Westhill residents will be trapped in Westhill during a game” From the floor – as a former pupil of Westhill Academy and Primary, I would have loved to have had these training pitches here. Q from floor – Aberdeen play 20 games a year – surely not beyond the wit of the council and AFC to manage that disruption?  Someone shouts out – ‘what about the other events?’. Q from Floor – Aberdeen Football Club have said that Westhill is an ideal location for the stadium as it is next to the AWPR.  Given that the Scottish Government and the City Council have stated that the AWPR is not to become a development corridor, surely this proposal flies in the face of that.  There is also the fact that it is on greenbelt land, is not designated for development on the Aberdeen City Development Plan nor is it anywhere in the local transport strategy.   This proposal is contrary to Aberdeen Council’s own planning strategies, therefore why is it even being given the time of day? DM – Can’t answer for ACC. From the floor – I used to be a radiographer at ARI.  If I was called in I had to be at the hospital in 20 minutes. DM – AFC will have to address these questions. From the floor – “AFC didn’t even have the courtesy to attend this meeting and hear our concerns”. From the Floor – the whole A944 will be a development corridor- we will coalesce with Kingswells, the greenbelt is gone when it’s gone, we need to hold onto it for our kids, we need to keep our identity as Westhill. Q from floor – AFC were invited but couldn’t come, were ACC invited and why aren’t they here? DM – no one was invited from ACC or planning because they said they need to remain neutral. Q from floor – Current practice at Pittodrie is to close the road outside Pittodrie from 10 minutes before the end of a match to enable the dispersal of coaches away from the stadium once a match finishes.  This means the road being closed for up to 30 minutes.  AFC have said they would propose to do the same at Kingsford and close the A944.  Given that there will be over 1,000 vehicles exiting the stadium car, they will have to close the road.  Can you imagine any other developer making that request? DM – AFC need to address this. From the floor – Becky and I attended a traffic focus group with George Yule.  They said there will be traffic restrictions for an hour before and an hour after a game.  They will drip feed the in before but after it will be a floodgate.  George Yule has said they will try to encourage fans to stay behind in the fanzone, so on a week night that could mean fans staying till 10-11pm.  The TV rights dictate when a game is played, so it could be any day or time for matches. Q from floor – this proposal hasn’t got much going for it but Stuart Milne and ACC are involved so it could come about.  But what can we do as a community?  Do we just accept it? DM – jokes – can’t promote civil disobedience – use the democratic process – speak to councillors and MP’s and MSP’s.  I understand your frustration.  Now is your chance.  Clearly the more of you who object, the more weight it has.  There may be a judicial review with a right to appeal. From the floor – parking restrictions within 30 mins, this will be a huge problem for residents, there will be nowhere for our visitors to park. Q from floor – who has to remain neutral?  Councillors etc? DM – anyone who makes planning decisions – planners and Council officers.  Have to be professional. Can’t prejudice themselves.  Have a code of conduct.  Not allowed to express opinions except at committee. Not their job to make assessments. Q from floor – Does anyone have an indication of why ACC chose to build this as far away from the City as possible? (Laughter from audience.) Q from floor – AFC have failed to turn up they said it would be an unsuitable date for them, so why are we holding this meeting tonight? DM – not just dependant on the availability of AFC, dependant on other attendees availability and the availability of the venue.  We wanted to have this forum as quickly as possible.  Man from floor said that the No group are saying things and they are going unchallenged and AFC not there.  DM says AFC have said they couldn’t come. Q from floor – why no petition?  Answered by other audience member who says it only counts as one objection.  Man says so suppose I’m a fan, I want a drink before the game, I can drink in Westhill and park car for free at Ashdale hall, it will be a free for all. Q from floor – the application will go live in early December- am I the only cynic thinking that’s handy as we will be wrapped up in Christmas preparations?  How long do we have to lodge objections? DM – wasn’t totally sure thinks 4 weeks, not a lot of time.  You can write to the City Council or online using planning pages.  Someone shouts out clarifying that it is 4 weeks. Q from floor – pipeline safety – BP and Shell meant restrictions were placed on where Costco and Tesco would go, T in the Park was moved, so why is it even being considered here? (Applause.) DM – BP and Shell will be statutory consultees.  He thinks. From the floor – I support the idea of calling in the application because ACC have all the rights and yet the Shire have all the responsibilities – so it shouldn’t be ACC making the decision.  The Shire will have to enforce and police the parking restrictions and pay for it. DM – it’s up to the Scottish Government to call in an application. From the floor – BP or Shell – the regulations are straightforward – the stadium is in the green part of the pipeline limiting zone.  The green zone is restricted but not that much.  The pitches however would be in the yellow and red zones, so why would they do that?  With restrictions of no more than 100 folk?  These are the regulations and they can’t get away from it.  Sticking a football stadium right in between 2 pipelines is not a good idea. DM – they will have to assess the plans against the regulations. Q from floor – the safety zones is dependent on the number of people in the zone.  15,000 people in a safety zone – doesn’t make sense to increase the risk to people.  Do ACC really understand the function of a risk assessment? Q from floor – what constitutes a safety zone?  The stadium is 200-300 m away from the houses so the fallout from a pipeline incident could reach the Shire residents – so the Shire should be consulted and be talking to ACC. From the floor – I’m with No campaign – we are a small band of people representing you – we are aware that it will be BP and Shell and HSE doing the assessment.  We know that over 50% of fans plan on travelling by car – 1,000 car parking spaces – they say they will force 3 people to a car (how?).  Take a 15K crowd, that’s 5,000 – 7,000 cars and 10,000 people in Westhill.  We know AFC have ambitions for their club but we have ambitions for our town centre and the first parking venue will be the town centre.  We are holding a meeting with businesses.  Please write to your MP’s, councillors.  We need your support.  (Loud applause.) DM – when the planning application goes live is when you can make your formal objections, not before then. Q from floor – what can we do?  How do we do it?  Getting on the internet etc., we need help to do this. Q from floor – does anyone know how ACC feel about this? DM – they have to remain neutral. From the Floor – it is unfair that there are only 12,000 people living in Westhill who can only write one objection per household whereas AFC have a  lot of supporters and they can all put in letters of support if they want. DM – anyone from anywhere can put in letters of support or objection, that’s the system.  Agreed can seem unfair, for instance people from southern England write to object about wind turbines up here on principle. From the floor – I’m also with the No Kingsford Stadium group.  When the planning application goes live, we will put in proforma letters through your letter box for you to send.  With your support we will take this to the courts.  Please give us your support. From the floor – I expect there will be someone from AFC in the crowd tonight, be naïve to think otherwise.  However let’s be respectful of anyone who has something to say in support of the stadium.  (Applause.) From the floor – (yes supporter) – wait until the planning application goes in before making up your minds, don’t know the plans yet.  (Laughter from audience.) From the floor – AFC have had the opportunity to give us info at the consultations, we have been given a lot of info, we are not jumping the gun. From the floor – Want to moan about the unfairness.  Incidentally – Alexander Burnett is having a surgery this Friday – turn up!  It is unfair because I’ve put in planning applications, I know all the hoops you have to go through, if someone wanted to put a bungalow on this land they would be turned down, they must have very expensive planning consultants. Q from floor – there are plans for the stadium approved at Cove – why is this current site favoured over there or Bellfield or Pittodrie? From the floor – most people are opposed to it – if refused, AFC can appeal or refer to Scottish Government.  When Kingswells was first mooted they did it without even visiting the site.  When you write your letters of objection, send a copy to your MSP and MP because they need to be aware of the level of opposition. Audrey (WECC) – an appeal would be dealt with by a single reporter from the Scottish Government, the Council lose all control and say. From the floor – I went to Pittodrie and spoke to Yule and Skinner – had meetings – I’ve spoken and sent emails but I’ve not been given a single answer to any question at any stage. DM – these people are not representing AFC (talking about the fans who were being vocal). Q from floor – do these yes people actually stay in Westhill?  Someone answered ‘well, 2 of them do’. From the floor – if the stadium is moved out of the City it flies in the face of the City regeneration plans.  Loss of revenue from the City. Q from floor – how much do the No group need to raise? No Kingsford Stadium Group member – we’ve been advised approx. £12K to pay for professional traffic report and planning reports.   £4K raised so far. Q from floor – who owns the land? A from floor – Pirie family. From the floor – water soakaway – concerns re flooding and contaminated land hence boreholes.  It’s known that there is a flooding problem to properties adjacent to the site.  Well documented. Q from floor – Noise carries through Westhill no buffers of tall buildings like at Pittodrie.  There was a wedding earlier in the year at the other end of Westhill that could be heard over the whole of Westhill.  Was a one off, have no problem with that, but just goes to show how noise carries here.  With a PA system and 20,000 fans, the noise will have a detrimental affect on residents.  What measures will AFC take? DM – there will be a noise assessment- planners will comment on those assessments. From the floor – the field is currently used for agriculture, geese nest there in winter.  This is the first year bird scarers have been deployed.  Also deer.  Lots of rabbits, would be big impact for wildlife. It’s also a feeding area for bats. DM – the councillor Davidson is an expert on this.  Noise, litter, wildlife etc. all have to be part of the planning application.  Valid points to raise. From the floor – Thanks DM for chairing.  If this goes to court of session it is very expensive.  Planning law allows only the applicant the right of appeal.  There are several MSPs in this area fairly sympathetic.  Make representations to them.  Contact ACC councillors and make your point to them. From the floor – yes supporter- positives – jobs will be created by this and increase in trade.  Sports facilities. From the floor – I’m from Westhill but travel to Glasgow a lot and I see supporters from buses openly peeing by the side of the road.  Disgusting.  It will be the same here. From the floor – ACC have a bylaw where you are not allowed to drink in a public place.  No such bylaw here so you could get people buying alcohol in Tesco and drinking and discarding cans.  That will happen. Q from floor – what guarantees will we have that we will have access to facilities and jobs? DM – they will have to do an economic assessment.  We don’t know yet. From the floor – we understand that the club are applying to have additional car parking spaces. Alexander Burnett is on the climate change committee – so write to him to reject any application for additional spaces. Q from floor – is risk of terrorism factored into pipeline risk assessment? DM – that’s an operational consideration.  There is a risk assessment done for these things. From the floor – pipelines constitute a major hazard – this will definitely raise the risk level.  Stadium might need to be fire hardened.  ACC may need to upgrade emergency response procedure. DM – will be part of planning application. From the floor – came to Westhill 25 years ago.  Garden suburb.  This feels like vandalism of our countryside.  Seems also to be an element of bullying as the people of Westhill don’t have a say.  No one will enjoy looking at the stadium or living next door to it.  Fans are only there for 90 minutes, we will have it there 24/7. From the floor – need petition – we successfully fought the City in the 80s when ACC wanted Westhill moved into the City area. Shona (WECC) – closing meeting – thanks to Becky and DM.   Sorry AFC couldn’t come.  We did try to get a venue for the other dates which they could make but we couldn’t find anywhere.]]>

2 thoughts on “Notes from Public meeting, 1st Nov, held by WECC

  1. I could not make meeting and was very concerned after reading the report in the P&J which seemed to indicate there was significant support for the stadium and a good turn out of yes folk. Reading the above report would thankfully not support that view. However it would indicate the P&J may be pro the stadium which cannot be a goot thing from Westhills perspective.

  2. I enjoyed the information about the Public Meeting, as I am 80 years old and Profoundly Deaf and cannot hear at meetings, I have lived at “Lyndale on the Broadiach Road, just East of the proposed training fields, for 58 years. The proposed training fields are the Mating Grounds of 17 Roe Deer in the winter season, when they all meet there from small woodlands all around, and lots of the deer stay the whole 12 months every year along the Burnside that is on the North side of the proposed development,
    The existing sewage pumping station at the west of the site was built for Westhills by Aberdeenshire Council and the pipe to Persley sewage works runs from there to the North of the proposed site towards “Cairdhillock Farm” then over the hill to Persley, Surely Aberdeenshire Residents should be able to Stop AFC from gaining access to the sewage works at Westhill for their new stadium ?? J L Harvey

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