No decision on proposed Laurencekirk development

COUNCILLORS are to visit the proposed site for more than 200 houses in Laurencekirk before making a decision on the application.

Inverurie company Kirkwood Homes wants to build 210 homes on a site to the south of the village’s Blackiemuir Avenue.

Members of the Kincardine and Mearns area committee agreed at a meeting on Tuesday to postpone taking a decision about the proposal until they had visited the site.

The development, which would be built on agricultural land designated in the Aberdeenshire Local Plan for housing, has been backed by council planners.

The majority of houses would be two-storey detached, but with a “significant” provision of bungalows, semi-detached properties and terraced homes.

Eight letters of representation were received in relation to the application, raising concerns about access points, traffic congestion, the impact on local community and schooling infrastructure and sewage capacity problems.

One unhappy local resident wrote: “Local amenities cannot support a development of this size. Laurencekirk’s road infrastructure is not suitable for the anticipated traffic volume. Present properties are empty due to the economic downturn, being a greenbelt area, this is far too large a development.

“The only kind of housing required in Laurencekirk is affordable, housing association homes to keep the younger generations in the village, not expensive private homes for those that commute, with very little revenue ploughing back into the community.”

Mearns Community Council submitted several comments, stating that Blackiemuir Avenue would not be able to cope with the projected volume of traffic and that a new road would be required, leading from Westmuir Cottage , past Pittcows and round to the south entrance of Laurencekirk.

The group also said that more landscaping was needed, and that there must be sufficient water supply and sewage facilities.

Aberdeenshire provost Bill Howatson said: “What struck me a bit is that when we decided the Local Plan, one of the issues that was constantly made was that we need to get the infrastructure right.

“I think this is a very interesting case - while the design is acceptable and it fits in very well, what has to be considered is the effect and impact on the infrastructure.”

He added: “I just feel that we are going to get back into the situation where we agree developments yet we haven’t thought out the infrastructure enough.

“From my point of view I think it would be worthwhile having a site visit here, to look at it in a broader sense.

“I’m surprised that there are only eight representations, very surprised. Laurencekirk is on the cusp of fairly major development and I think it is incumbent upon us to think about how the infrastructure will cope.”

His fellow Mearns councillor George Carr agreed and said he was very concerned about the impact the development would have on the notorious junction on the A90 Aberdeen to Dundee road, which he described as “not fit for purpose.”

Mearns councillor Jean Dick said: “On the positive side, I really welcome the number of houses for rent because there is a dire need for that in Laurencekirk, as there is everywhere throughout the country.”