Councillors back 210 houses at Laurencekirk

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A NEW residential development in Laurehncekirk has been backed by councillors.

Kirkwood Homes plan to build 210 houses on land on the west side of Laurencekirk and south of Blackiemuir Avenue. There will be a mixture of two-storey, bungalow and terraced housing on the site, which is currently agricultural land.

Mr Alan Rae, land director at Kirkwood Homes, said that the pace of the development would be quite slow, with an estimated 25-30 houses being built per year.

Members of the committee unanimously approved a delegated grant, although several councillors expressed reservations with regards to the pressure that would be put on transport and roads infrastructure in the area.

Aberdeenshire Provost Bill Howatson told the committee that it was a “fascinating” application, and he commended the design of the site.

He said: “This design is the microcosm of the very problem we are facing in Laurencekirk. How do we get the infrastructure right? This is a big issue. We don’t want to get caught out with infrastructure.

“I would hope that we could make Laurencekirk a model for the future and not simply a replica for the past. I am nervous about the impact this development could have on a potential vision for the future.”

He added: “In the past this committee have found ourselves ‘locked in’ with too many houses and not enough infrastructure. I think we have got to start thinking more carefully about the future.”

Area Chair Paul Melling agreed, saying: “We need to be looking at infrastructure up front before we back ourselves into this type of development. We keep facing the problem of placing modern developments with all the relevant policies into a framework that was designed with horses and carts in mind.”

Mearns Councillor Tom Fleming expressed concerns about how surrounding infrastructure would cope with an increase in traffic, citing Market Road as a particular worry. However he added that he welcomed noew housing in Laurencekirk.

The committee were assured that traffic assessment studies had been carried out and officers were satisfied that existing junctions would cope with an incerase in traffic.

But Mearns Councillor George Carr said that the report did not satisfacorily address the problems with the notorious A90 junction at Laurencekirk. He said: “I am in support of more housing at Laurencekirk but I am not satisfied with the safety of the A90 junction. The development has got merit but I have real concerns about that junction.”

He added: “What we are looking for here is a vision for Laurencekirk rather than just a piecemeal development. We don’t want this development to rule out our vision for the future.”

But Stonehaven and Lower Deeside Councillor Peter Bellarby told the committee that they could not expect this one single development to solve all of Laurencekirk’s infrastructure problems.