East Garrioch councilor Glen Reid has spoken out against the decision to remove conservation status from land next to Kintor Middlemill School at a meeting which adopted Aberdeenshire’s Local Development Plan 2022.
Previously, the area was reserved for a high school and later for public recreation.
At st Full Council meeting on WednesdayCouncilor Reid put forward a motion to restore the conservation status of the land, but was deemed incompetent by the local authority’s legal counsel.
He said: “I would like to give members some information about the issue surrounding the P7 land in Kintore.
“At a meeting of the Garioch Area Committee on the sixth of September, following the amendments proposed by the Reporter, the committee were asked to inform the Full Council of any elements of the Reporter’s report which they should not accept.
“Proposed changes included (Issue 35) that ‘Plot P7 (east of Midhill Primary School) is no longer required for a secondary school… Recreational open space is not justified and the site should be included in the OP1 (houses) allocation.’
“I found this incredibly short-sighted and felt that this land needed to be protected for potential school/community use in the future.
“The document, as referred to in today’s document, lists four circumstances in which authorities can depart from recommendations, one of which is: ‘If the recommendation(s): is based on conclusions that could not have been made on the basis of the evidence considered during examination”.
“I noted that the following was known to the Reporter during the examination: Kemney Academy is old (built in 1982), Kemney Academy is overcrowded, 67 per cent of all Kemney Academy pupils are bussed there from Kintore and Blackburn, and there are around 1,250 houses earmarked for construction in Kintore.
“Our planning officers confirmed that this was known to the Review Board as they made similar arguments.
“The planning officer said, ‘You are not alone. We would not be protecting the land in the proposed plan if we did not agree with what you have laid out.
“The entire committee agreed, and the issue is before us today, where we are told on page 16 that the provision of education was not an issue that the Reporter was asked to consider during the review, and accordingly the failure to review the site for the provision of educational facilities is not material. for recommendations of journalists.
“It’s incredibly frustrating.
“Therefore, ignoring the specific educational requirement as stated in this document that the Reporter was not asked to review, what the Reporter was aware of:
“There are known to be 1,250 homes earmarked for development in Kintore, 1,000 of which are adjacent to this piece of land and the remaining 250 are within 500 yards of it.
“It is understood that these 1,250 new homes will be family homes, with an average of at least three bedrooms and will almost double the town’s population.
“It is known that communal facilities will be needed. Our designers know this, so they tried to protect the land.
“There is no doubt that there is no more ideal location for such community facilities than this piece of land, which is adjacent to Midmill School.
“Communities have been known to have problems when facilities are located on the outskirts of communities, such as Elon and Alford with campuses outside their cities.
“Given all this, known to the Reporter, I believe that the withdrawal of the protected status was not a reasonable conclusion.
“Definition of reasonable: “reasonable judgment; fair and reasonable’, and in my view this conclusion is neither reasonable nor fair nor reasonable.
“However, at yesterday’s meeting and in a follow-up email last night, officers told me: ‘In this case, the Planning Policy Guidelines require that the planning authority can demonstrate that the Reporter made a clear error in examining the evidence before It goes a lot further than having a different opinion or disagreement with the conclusions drawn by the Reporter or their views on planning’.
“Again, I find it incredibly frustrating.
“The reasons given by the Correspondent for not protecting the land for recreational open space:
“The protection of the land for recreational open space is unjustified – I believe it is, as are our planners, and it is the most suitable of all the land available.
“The rezoning of the site (P7) (eg from educational to recreational open space) only happened at the Proposed LDP stage, so the people of Kintore cannot be unduly affected given that it has not been earmarked for open space in the past. or such an allocation is part of the plan’s consultation process – I object that residents will be unduly affected regardless of when it materializes.
“The site is no longer needed for its original purpose, ie. for high school – Education officials don’t want one now, but they may need it in 10 years, and then it will be too late.
“Whether or not I could demonstrate that the Reporter made a clear error in the eyes of our planning department and lawyers is up to you, but I feel that I did, and I have no doubt that it was not a wise decision.
“I am absolutely against revoking the protected status of this land, and I have not heard anything today that reassures me that this land will be absolutely protected for the community in the future.
“If we leave it to the master development plan process, then we will leave it to when and maybe.
“If we leave it up to the developer to create their master plan, maybe we’ll get one that the community will be happy with.
“If we leave this until the developer comes up with their master plan, my constituents will have to wait years to find out what’s happening in the heart of their community.
“And we heard today that if we leave it to the masterplan development process, the number of homes (1,000) will only be indicative and although our planners have no ambitions at this stage to increase it, it could happen.
“The only way to protect this land is if we decide to protect it today, and I cannot in good conscience not try to protect it.
“Our planners have a commitment to the masterplan, but I owe it to my constituents, residents and students, both current and those who will occupy the 1,250 new homes.
“Therefore, I intend to file a motion, which may or may not be deemed competent, as follows:
“I would like to make a motion that we adopt the Local Development Plan with the Reporters’ recommendations, with the exception of recommendation number one on page 1099: “Remove lot P7 from the Conservation Lands section of the Settlement Characteristics Table on page 589 and from the Kintore Settlement Map on pages 595-598 and the inclusion of this place in OP1.
“My view on the planning underpinning the application is that site P7 is a key location in the village, fully suitable for public use and should not be included in the OP1 allocation under which it is likely to be proposed for the construction of housing, to the detriment of good site planning, and I believe that the decision is unreasonable and was an obvious mistake. I’m looking for a second.”
The motion was seconded by Councilor Neil Bailey and seconded by Councilor Trevor Mason, but the council’s legal counsel stressed that while she understood the motivation behind the motion, substantial evidence was needed to demonstrate that the Reporter had made a mistake, and therefore advised that the Provost found the petition illegal. The vice-chancellor agreed, and the case did not proceed.