Executives of the club seek to avoid planning conditions in meeting with Aberdeenshire Council.
In reports from a meeting with Aberdeenshire Council, it would appear that executives of Aberdeen Football Club are looking for ways to avoid the planning conditions imposed on them by Aberdeen City Council.By seeking to avoid complying with the proposed conditions of the application, AFC are highly likely to bring traffic and parking chaos on the Westhill and Elrick area. In new information, obtained under Freedom of Information by NKS Director Clare Davidson, AFC Chairman Stewart Milne and Vice-Chairman George Yule met with Aberdeenshire Council Officers on 7 March to discuss the conditions for the safe crossing of the A944 and the Controlled Parking Zone across the Westhill and Elrick Area. The first of these conditions that were a condition of planning approval were: ‘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 – in the interests of delivering the overall Transport Strategy relating to this development, and to control on-street car parking within the surrounding residential streets.’ A statement relating to the meeting of 7 March says:
“The Controlled Parking Zone (CPZ) appears not to be favoured by the applicant and they are already looking at alternative solutions.”Could it be that AFC are already attempting to wriggle out of the conditions applied to the pending approval for the stadium? Why? Because the cost of the consultation on the CPZ alone will be in excess of £600,000 (the figure quoted by Aberdeenshire Council in their letter to Scottish Government). And the costs of signage, administration and enforcement would also fall to AFC. From people closely associated with these developments, we understand that AFC is looking to turn any areas of “hard standing” around Westhill and Elrick into car parks for their stadium. The note from officers who met with AFC goes on to say:
‘For example, a range of smaller car parks on roads leading to the stadium could be part of an alternative strategy alongside more on-site parking. Clearly this would not comply with proposed condition 5.’and then:
“There could be legal and other difficulties in pursuing this approach…”We would suspect the legal difficulties might be because this would be contrary to Scottish Planning Policy which is quite clear in the amount of spaces a development is allowed, and that one of the ‘other’ difficulties might be that there will be 100s of cars driving round Westhill to see which of these satellite car-parks have spaces free. Maybe they plan on signs like the car parks in Aberdeen City to show the spaces that are free … Meadowlands – 45, Carnie – 53, Arnhall – 115, Elrick – 37, Broadshade – 62!
It is important to remember that the ACC councillors approved this application on the condition that there would be a CPZ.We also understand that AFC may be attempting to avoid building any safe crossing of the A944, as required to by the proposed conditions. This is the condition that applies: “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 – in the interests of pedestrian accessibility and safety. 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 – in the interests of pedestrian accessibility and safety” The proposals by AFC were that this would be a bridge, which we all know has been the topic of great debate. The ACC councillors approved the application on that basis. There was no talk in the chamber of closing the road. The note relating to the meeting with AFC on 7 March says:
‘The applicant is open to new ways of dealing with the traffic issues, but we are not sure what form this might take at this stage.’Again, we understand from people closely associated with these developments, that AFC is considering a proposal to close a section of the A944 during match days and reroute traffic. [caption id="attachment_3652" align="aligncenter" width="1035"] Could AFC be planning to close the A944?[/caption] This would pedestrianise a section of the road, causing major disruption for local people. This would exacerbate the inevitable gridlock from stadium traffic (it’s bad enough trying to get out of Tesco at 5pm on normal weekday, never mind adding several thousand cars and pedestrians!). In addition, the same sources have indicated that AFC have been unable to secure parking spaces in the Arnhall Business Park. These 600 to 800 spaces were an integral part of the transport strategy for the planning application and without them it will fail – even with these spaces the whole transport strategy was woefully inadequate. The reality is that the Kingsford location is simply unworkable. The parking and transportation issues cannot be resolved and the only way that the community can defend itself is by petitioning for a Judicial Review of the decision. Aberdeen Football Club have claimed they want to be “good neighbours” but, in potentially seeking to avoid their obligations to these conditions, they demonstrate that they care little for the local community.
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