Riverside Proposals Decided

By Jane Cruickshank / September 16, 2022

A STONEHAVEN man’s proposals for a bungalow and community amenities on land he owns at Riverside Drive have been refused by planning officers.

David Morrison was seeking planning permission in principle for a new home along with an allotment area, bike trails and improved footpaths on the swathe of land backing Riverside Drive and stretching down to the Carron Waters. Set in land designated as countryside, the proposals were a departure from the local plan.

If he gained planning permission, Mr Morrison was to transfer ownership of his land to Stonehaven Town Partnership, to be held in trust for the whole community though three local groups had land allocated: Grampian Tigers Youth Cycling Club, to create a pump track for their Saturday Club use while otherwise available to all local youngsters; Horizon to enhance and enable their activities; and the Scouts, to expand their environmental and adventure activities.

The application proved contentious, with 91 valid representations: 67 objecting to the proposals and 24 in support, including from the community groups benefiting from the scheme.

New procedures in dealing with planning applications

It may seem unusual for an application provoking such significant representation from the public to be delegated to planning officers – rather than going to the Kincardine and Mearns Area Committee for determination.

But it appears the parameters changed when a new Scheme of Governance for Planning Delegations was issued by Aberdeenshire Council in July this year.

Now, when an application contrary to the local development plan is recommended for refusal by officers, it will go to the Area Committee only if:

  • 50% of the relevant ward members ask for a referral and have valid planning grounds for this request, or
  • there has been a substantial body of support for the development.

From documents online, we learn Cllrs Agnew, Black and Dickinson all agreed officer delegation while Cllr Alan Turner declared a substantial interest (which would presumably have removed him from the decision making process).

What is substantial support?

As for support – the Scheme of Governance states: ”For the avoidance of doubt the number of letters or individuals in support will not be the sole deciding factor as to whether the body of support could be considered substantial.

”The Council as the Planning Authority will also take account of how the number and location of supporters relates to the local and wider population that could legitimately claim to be affected by the development. The quality and relevance of the arguments presented will be paramount.”

Reasons for refusal

Planning officers refused Mr Morrison permission for his development citing the departure from the local plan, loss of public amenity space, impact on the visual amenity of the site, lack of off-street parking and lack of safe access to the site. A full discussion can be found online in the handling report.