Resident says caravan park application has many flaws

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A Stonehaven resident and community council member has raised concerns about a planning application submitted to Aberdeenshire Council last month for the redevelopment of the Queen Elizabeth caravan park in Stonehaven.

Phil Mills-Bishop has taken an independent view from the community council, who submitted an “overwhelming” and unconditional approval of the application. He feels the application submitted by “The Caravan Club” is flawed in many ways and that it cannot possibly go ahead without amendments.

The running of the Queen Elizabeth Caravan Park was taken over from Aberdeenshire Council by Stonehaven Town Partnership late last year after members of the Kincardine and Mearns area committee unanimously backed plans for it to be transferred. The Queen Elizabeth Park is one of several caravan parks the council off-loaded in order to cut costs.

The local authority was losing £2500 per year running the site and by handing it over they hoped this loss would cease.

A planning application was then submitted to Aberdeenshire Council last month for a £1.75m revamp of the site. The Caravan Club plans to transform the caravan park in time for the 2013 tourist season.

The two applications for the park include the redevelopment of the existing caravan site including caravan hard standings, the tent area, a toilet block, bin store, service points, lighting, CCTV columns, a play area for children, bollards, a retaining wall, covered store, reception building, a wardens’ compound and alterations to vehicular access.

The application closed for public comment last week and is currently pending with Aberdeenshire Council.

However Stonehaven and District Community Councillor, Phil Mills-Bishop says there are many reasons why the application cannot be passed without amendments.

He claims the planned re-development is in a designated floodplain which should not be built upon.

Mr Mills-Bishop states: “The argument here being used by the applicant is that this is a redevelopment, not a whole new development, but the scale and detail of buildings and its accoutrements indicates a degree of permanence.

“There has also been no flood risk assessment done despite Flood Unit asking for it at pre-consultation”. He then went on to say that there has been no drainage and sewage Impact Assessment carried out as also advised by the Flood Unit and the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) objected to the planning application last week.

On the planning application it is stated that it is hoped the caravan park will be open for 11 months of the year to allow people to visit the town throughout the year and not only during the holidays.

This would see the park only closing for the month of February, which would be useful for those visiting at Hogmanay and for other reasons rather than only during school holidays. However Mr Mills-Bishop claims that the Planning Case officer, Flood Unit, Road departments, Scottish Water and SEPA were all unaware of this.

The Community Councillor raised concerns about the number of entry and exists via the caravan park which is stated as 170 per day, seven days a week and nominally 9-5 for 11 months, to which he feels will cause a great degree of disturbance to those living nearby.

Although many Cowie residents seem to be in support of the upgrade, some have raised concerns about the entrance road for holidaymakers.

During the winter months residents use a diversion in front of the Open Air Pool because of surface water and large stones thrown up by the waves, which could potentially be too narrow and unsuitable for caravans and refuse trucks.

The new refuse bins, which are planned to face Links/Helen Row, have also caused concern with a few residents, and Mr Mills-Bishop is worried that the contents will be upturned in floods or tidal surge.

Environmental Health asked in their letter of representation whether additional fire points would be provided as the application states that fire fighting equipment will be stored in two points no more than 90 metres from every caravan whilst Model Standards require that no caravan or site building is more than 30 metres from a designated fire point.

The Caravan Club have also ticked on the application form that there will be “no combustible elements on site.”

Mr Mills-Bishop says both Butane and Propane are to be stored in the compound facing the nearby housing areas and in the planned reception building where they will be sold as “camping necessities”.

“There are many deficiencies which will effect those residents of Cowie who have not been aware as many of the agencies and planning officials were also not aware that the caravan club intend to operate the park 11 months of the year and the consequential impact on the infrastructure and risk to person and property at the high risk times of the year are present.”

The application, which is still pending, will be decided by the council and they are prohibited from making any comment until a final decision has been reached.