Aberdeenshire Council: Why Gateway Kintore is not in plan

Kintore and District Community Council has received a reply from Aberdeenshire Council, regarding the proposed Gateway Kintore development. This is the text of the letter sent by Kintore & District Community Council chairman Kenny Thomson and the reply from Planning Services Manager Mairi Stewart.

Kintore and District Community Council

15 July 2012

Ms Mairi Stewart
Aberdeenshire Council
Area Planning Officer
Arduthie Road
AB39 2DQ

Dear Ms Stewart


I telephoned your office recently to discuss the above matter but you were unavailable at that time, so I now write to express my concern regarding the manner in which a development at Broomhill, Kintore has been handled.

‘Gateway Kintore’ is a mixed use development of restaurants, Hotel, filling station and leisure facilities proposed by Mr Hamish McDonald and there are several aspects of the Gateway Kintore development which we found appealing. Firstly, such facilities are sadly lacking, in a town which has grown beyond recognition over the past 10 years, with the building of over 1000 houses, which has left a legacy of inadequate community facilities; secondly, there is plenty of anecdotal evidence of widespread public support for such facilities, evidenced by 930 or so residents signing a Petition supporting the development; thirdly, the fact no new housing is included in the proposals means there will be no impact upon the already stretched educational provision within the town and finally and importantly, the developer has committed to upgrading Broomhill roundabout on the A96 Trunk Road at his own expense. A proposed design change to the roundabout apparently meets the aspirations of Transport Scotland and with the high costs involved, this is undoubtedly a serious statement of intent by the developer.

Support for the development was made clear by the Community Council since it was first mooted over two years ago and this support was conveyed to your Department in a letter dated 23 March 2010, a copy of which is attached. Several weeks later, we received a reply dated 26 April from Michael O’Sullivan, Policy Planner at Woodhill House, which stated “In terms of commercial development, the development strategy for Kintore recommended by officers to the Garioch Area Committee was as follows: the continued allocation for mixed use development, including protection of land for a Kintore Station, at the northern gateway site (ALP site Emp B); and, a major new site for mixed use development to the east of Kintore (Main Issues Report site G87). The requirement for commercial development in Kintore was considered within the context of the settlement strategy for the Blackburn to Inverurie Strategic Growth Area where large allocations of commercial/employment land were recommended in the Thainstone - Crichie area”.

It was clear therefore at that early stage there would be resistance to the Gateway Kintore proposals, but the community had flagged its support for them and there was an expectation their views would be taken into consideration as the LDP took shape.
Turning now to the positive impact this development and its location would have on other communities. I can report that presentations on the proposals were also given to members of both Kemnay and Blackburn Community Councils. Positive feedback was received and it is not difficult to understand why, as the facilities envisaged could be used by residents travelling to and from these communities along the A96 Trunk Road, particularly since they will be so accessible and visible, being situated on that major transport link. Support has also come from Inverurie Business Association in the form of a letter, a copy of which is attached. Clearly there is concern within their membership relative to the provision of further supermarkets in Inverurie, so much so that they specifically refer to the Kintore proposals in a positive way.

Piers Blaxter and some of our Local Councillors were well aware of the public interest and support for the provision of these facilities, but it seems they chose to ignore them and failed to see the potential to meet public aspirations for the much needed facilities which were on offer and therefore demonstrated a remarkable lack of understanding of local needs. Sadly, this is often the difficulty when decisions relative to community planning matters are made by individuals who do not reside within that community.

Despite the positive features and Kintore residents' support for it, for some inexplicable reason the proposed development did not find its way into the Local Development Plan. By contrast and what is even more inexplicable is the inclusion in the LDP of proposals by a consortium of builders to build a further 1200 houses in Kintore in two phases, when there is no development framework, no firm proposals for new educational facilities nor any likelihood of the consortium having the capability of upgrading Broomhill roundabout on the A96 Trunk Road (they don’t own the land!) and the latter must surely be a major requirement before any new house building on that scale can be contemplated.

You will have grasped from the foregoing paragraphs there are no negative aspects to the Gateway Kintore proposals and had they been included in the LDP, there would be no educational or other insurmountable impediments to the commencement of the development. As it is, the community has been deprived of essential and achievable facilities, while attempts have been to placate Community Councillors by saying the proposals could be included in the next LDP, which is of course many years in the future! With respect, these facilities are needed now and not at the whim of officials who seem to hold the ace cards in the decision making process.

A logical and sensible solution would have been for the Gateway Kintore proposals to be included in the newly agreed LDP, with the development of the 1200 houses being included in the next one. With the Gateway Kintore development up and running first, along with the Broomhill roundabout upgrade, the additional facilities could meet the needs of the future community, while the roundabout upgrade would have allowed the house building to commence. This is not rocket science and to most practical minded individuals that would be ‘planning’, in its true sense!

There has been much rhetoric in recent times relative to the increasing importance of Community Councils, but the general manner in which this particular development has been handled has definitely called that into question and one must ask what the point is in seeking community views and then ignoring them, particularly when substantial effort has been made by Community Councillors and other members of the local population to consider the proposals, solicit public opinion and respond to correspondence on them?

In conclusion, it seems to me that an investigation needs to take place into how this matter was dealt with, as lessons can be learned from it. The lack of lateral thinking and forward planning are lamentable and an explanation to the residents of Kintore, as to why there was a failure to deliver much needed community facilities, would also be appropriate.

An early response to this letter would be appreciated.

Yours faithfully

Kenny Thomson

Aberdeenshire Council

Dear Mr Thomson

Proposed Development - Gateway Kintore

Thank you for your letter of 10 July 2012, and l apologise for the delay in responding to you.

As you are aware, the proposed Gateway Kintore site was the subject of extensive consultation and rigorous assessment with all relevant parties and the public/community during the production of the Aberdeenshire Local Development Plan (LDP). This assessment took cognisance of the need for new facilities and services in Kintore as part of the wider context of the settlement strategy for the Blackburn to lnverurie Strategic Growth Area. The plan was independently assessed at examination, where these issues were also evaluated. The Reporter concluded that the site should not be allocated for development within the LDP.

Aberdeenshire Council Gateway Kintore letter

The rationale for not promoting development on the Gateway Kintore site through the LDP is logical, and has been set out clearly at each step in the process…[edited]

Moving fonward, Aberdeenshire Council accepts that Gateway~Kintore is a prominent site in the A96 corridor and that it may form part of the future expansion of Kintore. We have encouraged the developer to continue to engage as part of the development framework and masterplan for M1. Further detailed consideration of this proposal will be possible as part of the review of the ALDP which will begin in 2013.

l realise that the current allocations are not to your liking, and the advice given can only clarify the statutory process that had to be carried out to ensure the adoption of a Local Development Plan for Aberdeenshire. It is considered that this process was carried out properly and in full accordance with the statutory requirements. You will be aware that the developer may still pursue the proposed development. Any application submitted would be required to be processed in accordance with legislation. Obviously this would be with cognisance to the proposed development not being in accordance with the LDP. In that instance any decision would ultimately be for the elected members to make.
The Council takes pride in the way in which we deliver out services including how we deal with complaints. I hope that this letter indicates that we have dealt with your complaint in a satisfactory way.

lf you are not satisfied with the way in which the matter has been handled please let us know and I will arrange for a senior member of staff to undertake a further investigation.
l trust you find this to be in order but if you have any queries regarding the content of this letter of if you require further information regarding the Aberdeenshire Council complaints procedure please do not hesitate to contact me.

Please note that the Scottish Public Ombudsman will not deal with a complaint until the Council’s complaint procedure has been fully completed.

Yours sincerely

Mairi Stewart
Planning Services Manager

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