Clare Davidson, Director, No KIngsford Stadium Limited
Hello, My name is Clare Davidson and I am a resident of Westhill, I grew up in Westhill and returned to raise my daughter currently 5 years old.
I submitted a comprehensive objection to the proposed development of the Kingsford site for many reasons. I am grateful to be given the opportunity to talk you about these today.
Currently the land at Kingsford is Greenbelt. AFCs proposal does not meet any of the criteria listed as exceptions to the Greenbelt policy.
Kingsford represents the last section of green belt between Westhill and Kingwells. Once the Green Belt is gone, it is gone forever.
AFC have in their application claimed that the council has previously supported the principal of using Greenbelt land for a stadium. I quote from AFCs supporting documents.
“The move to a Green Belt site has previously been supported by Aberdeen City Council Members and Officials through successful planning applications at Bellfield and Loirston.”
The acceptance of previous applications should be seen in the light of the importance of each development. The Bellfield Farm proposal was given approval subject to a successful bid for the World’s third largest sporting event; UEFA Euro 2008. Approval was withdrawn when the competition was awarded another bid.
The development at Loirston was progressed following a feasibility study by Aberdeen City Council and Aberdeen Football Club. The site at Loirston was selected and developed through the Loirston Development Plan and the wider Aberdeen City Local Development Plan. The site was identified for development and planning approval was in place. The application to build on this site was withdrawn by Aberdeen Football Club.
In contrast, the proposed site at Kingsford is not zoned for development, is not part of any wider strategic or local plan and is not linked to any major sporting bid of National importance.
In their supporting documentation, AFC also make the following statement.
“It should be noted that, in terms of newer Scottish football stadia, Inverness Caledonian Thistle’s Stadium is not located within Inverness City Centre and St Johnstone’s McDiarmid Park is not sited within Perth City Centre. Furthermore, Pittodrie is not located within Aberdeen City Centre” – Again, this statement is misleading.
It should be noted that both these stadia (Inverness and Perth) pre-date the current Scottish Planning Policy guidance and the stronger focus on preserving the function of our city centres. Each of these developments is also of a significantly smaller scale than that proposed at Kingsford:
- Caledonian Stadium (Inverness) has a capacity of 7,800 with an average attendance of just under 4000. It is also only 1.5 miles from Inverness City Centre, and easily within walking distance for fans.
- McDiarmid Park in Perth has a capacity of 10,700 with an average attendance of just under 4500. It is located just over 2 miles from Perth City Centre.
Each of these stadiums, therefore, represents a significantly smaller footfa
ll than that proposed for Kingsford. The stadia are significantly smaller and much closer to their respective cities than the proposed Kingsford site. Kingsford is 7 miles from the city with a capacity of 20,000.
I think everyone from the North-East of Scotland appreciates that Pittodrie Stadium is within the confines of the wider Aberdeen city centre, being a mere 1.1 miles from the east end of Union Street - a walk undertaken by many supporters when attending.
In their application, AFC claim that policy should not be applied to their proposals. I quote:
“Due to the nature and timing patterns of the proposed usage of the Kingsford football stadium and training facilities¨ we suggest that it should not be assessed as a ‘significant footfall generating use”.
Given the very large number of people moving to/from the proposed location it represents a significant footfall at anytime of the day and therefore must be considered as such. There is greater need to consider the development as such given the unsustainable location and poor transport links available to access the Kingsford site.
The movement of large numbers of people through the city generates income and supports local communities. The current stadium, located in one of Scotland’s most deprived communities, supports a number of businesses in the area. Without this trade, many of these business would not be viable. The assessments carried out by the applicant make no mention of the impact on the economic well-being of the immediately surrounding community of the current stadium location.
Approval of this development would clearly set a precedent for development adjacent to the AWPR which would lead to the coalescence of communities along the A944 corridor and more widely. This would be contrary to the aims of Policy NE2 - Green Belt.
In addition, approval for this development would be used as a precedent to grant the approval of the Prime 4 change of use which would further undermine the council’s investment and focus on rejuvenating the city centre.
Please support the City Centre Master Plan. I ask you to refuse the application and then work with AFC to develop the identified site at Loirston or the proposed site at Kings Links.
I appreciate your time to listen to my views. Thank you.