Happy New Year?
We have been waiting for news on what AFC are planning on doing about the planning conditions that have to be met before the stadium could be built. Well now we know. They are trying to change them. WAEPA have learned via Freedom of Information requests (FOIs) that AFC intend to request major changes to the conditions for the development of the stadium at Kingsford near Westhill. And we are not surprised in the slightest.
These FOIs have revealed that:
- A report has been submitted by the Club’s agents proposing several changes that would reduce the costs to the Club but worsen the impact around Westhill
- Meetings have been held by various council officials both in the Shire and the City regarding these changes.
A summary of the changes is:
- AFC are proposing to close the A944 for 20-30 minutes after every game to clear the stadium and to divert traffic through the Arnhall business park
- AFC are proposing to not provide a bridge that offers a safe means of crossing the A944 as was detailed in the planning application, but instead will put a part-time pedestrian crossing to allow pedestrians to cross the A944 from Arnhall in the hope pedestrians would use it.
- AFC are requesting that the Controlled Parking Zone (CPZ) be limited to 20 minutes walking distance (1,600m) rather than the 30 minutes distance (2,400m) approved in the planning application. This would turn a large portion of Westhill into an uncontrolled AFC car park (see map).
- AFC have not, as yet, presented any agreements to authorities demonstrating that they have secured the claimed 600 parking spaces in the Arnhall Business Park, which were a key element of the car parking plan accepted by ACC in the planning application.
- AFC are proposing to request the conditions requiring they provide bus stops/laybys on A944 should be removed.
- AFC have not committed to pay for the Controlled Parking Zone in Westhill, and the question of who will pay for it (residents, Aberdeenshire Council, AFC?) remains unanswered.
- AFC are preparing to make a Section 42 application requesting changes to the conditions for the stadium at Kingsford.
Correspondence within the FOIs reveal that Aberdeenshire Council have significant concerns around any closure of the A944, that they prefer the 30 minute (2,400m) CPZ to protect the residential area of Westhill, and that a fixed safe crossing of the A944 i.e. a bridge, continues to be the preferred option for transporting supporters over the A944
So, what has changed that would necessitate these major changes to the conditions?
Nothing. The stadium is still in the same place. The roads are still the same (although it could be argued they are now worsened by the problematic AWPR junction), so nothing has changed that should mean these conditions should be in any way altered. After all, the original conditions of the application were put in place to protect local residents, for the safety of fans, and to ensure sustainable and environmental travel. Any weakening of these conditions is unacceptable.
It just brings us back to what we have been saying all along. This is no place for a football stadium. It’s one thing closing Park Road for 20-30 minutes to clear Pittodrie, but a completely different scenario will arise closing a dual carriageway that is not only a key arterial route in and out of the city, but is adjacent to a major roads interchange that has 1,000’s of cars using it every hour. Diverting traffic through the business park which is gridlocked on a regular tea time, never mind adding in 2,000+ cars all trying to leave at the same time is a recipe for disaster. Surely the required traffic modelling will reveal this?
Should such a major road closure and large-scale movements of pedestrians not have been brought to the table as part of the original plans and ACC councillors given the opportunity to determine whether or not this would be acceptable? Would Aberdeen Roads Management have supported this? Aberdeenshire Council would surely have had something to say too after all it’s the Shire who will bear the brunt of this traffic chaos!
Aberdeen City Councillors voted to approve the development with the conditions, which were requested by various consulted departments in their own council, in place.
It would certainly challenge the credibility and potentially the legality of the planning consent should Aberdeen City Council allow any major variation of these conditions.
We will be urging the Shire and City Councils to stand firm in order to ensure the conditions are purified according to the approved application.
Map: Inner band – 20 minutes (1,600m)
Outer band – 30 minutes (2,400m)