West Aberdeen Environmental Protection Association Limited was set up to protect the Green Belt and the Green Space Network across all areas west of Aberdeen. We provided feedback on the new Strategic Development Planning Authority (SDPA) for Aberdeen City and Shire in relation to the Main Issues report and have reviewed the Aberdeenshire bid proposals which have been submitted by developers. We are now reviewing the Aberdeen city developer bids for the next Local Development Plan (LDP), in particular those to the west of the City Centre.
The Aberdeen City and Shire SDPA, prepare a Strategic Development Plan as the framework for City and Shire development over the next 20 to 25 years. It would be reasonable to expect that developers across the North-East would deliver in line with this plan. it would be reasonable to expect that ensuring development in identified strategic areas for the economic growth and the protection of our environment would be at the heart of development bids – that developers would understand the framework of the strategic development plan and align themselves with it. But before we get to that, what are the key points from the SDPA main issues report?
The plan, which spans from 2020 – 2040 contains the following points:
- “Local Development Plans must ensure that the transport benefits created by the AWPR are ‘locked in’ and that the capacity of the route, and its junctions, is not negatively affected by development.”
- “Local Development Plans, in line with the sequential test and Town Centre First Principle, should expressly avoid any new development that would result in a negative impact on the AWPR route or any junction.”
- “Any new development adjacent to the AWPR, including the Fastlink to Stonehaven, will be resisted unless it has been properly considered through the Development Plan process, and any proposals which are not identified by a Local Development Plan will generally not be supported.”
- “Tackling road congestion will be another key consideration within the City, and reducing the effect of transport on the environment (including improving air quality) is particularly important.”
The main issues report makes it very clear that the AWPR is not a development corridor and that significant development should not be allowed along the AWPR or at its junctions. But when reviewing what the Developer bids look like for the area to the west of the city centre, around the AWPR, a very different picture emerges.
Every development bid is outlined in red above. This map shows both the bids within Aberdeen City and those within Aberdeenshire. Some examples of these are:
- B03/12- At the junction to the AWPR there is a bid for a petrol station and a food/ Drink Drive through
- B03/16 – This land is currently zoned as Greenbelt in the 2017 LDP, proposed bid to change to commercial/employment and a hotel.
- B03/10 – This land was covered under the Prime 4 development, it appears the developer (Drum Group) seek to change the use to Retail (but not clothing or department stores). This site is next door to the current Vet practice where we have seen a planning application (B03/07) which has already been submitted for two drive through food outlets and a further sit-down restaurant .
- B03/01 – Proposed Kingsford Stadium, planning permission for this was granted by Aberdeen City Council but is currently subject to a petition for judicial review by No Kingsford Stadium. WAEPAL fully supports No Kingsford Stadium Limited in its petition to ensure that process has been fairly and legally carried out.
- B09/33 and GR066 – a development of 1500-1800 homes by Stewart Milne Home, split over the boundary between the city and the shire (hence the two bid numbers).
- GR063 – another housing development to the east of Westhill on the existing Green Belt.
The Main Issues report has recognised that AWPR will become attractive to developers, and recent planning applications will apply pressure to the AWPR Junctions. However, the need to protect the road and its junctions in Planning policy terms was acknowledged.
Similarly, the Westhill Public Transport and Access Study 2017, highlights the major constraints on the existing transport network and identifies that these pressures will be increased when the AWPR opens. The report concludes that there is significant uncertainty regarding further development in Westhill, and the A944 corridor, until substantive upgrades to transportation infrastructure are delivered.
Do developers refer to the strategic approach to growth and development in Aberdeen City and Shire, where Aberdeen City Council promote the city centre first approach through the City centre master plan? Or do they see a way to make big profits at the cost of our infrastructure and environment?
It’s clear from the received developer bids, that the Kingswells, Westhill and the area of West Aberdeen is viewed as a “cash cow” by many developers despite the need to protect the Green Belt and the framework set out in the strategic plan. It seems that developers believe they can rock up to the Green Belt and build what they like, and that council officials will allow this to happen, despite policies designed to protect our Green Belt and Green Space Network.
These are the developer bids, they are not in the plan or formal planning application, but this is only the beginning of the process – this is how these sites are included in the future plans and become applications.
Do you want to help protect our Green Belt and Green Spaces? Do you want to ensure appropriate and sustainable development in the West of Aberdeen? Then please support WAEPAL. Donate, complete a Gift Aid form, email us and get involved.
Together, we can work to protect our local community and environment.