Councillors have turned down an application to build 142 homes in Stonehaven.
Stewart Milne Homes had already been granted planning approval to build 109 houses on the Carron Den site but moved to reduce the size of the homes from five bedrooms to two and three when new proposals were launched last year.
The developer said “changes in the housing market” were behind the alterations.
Objections to the proposals included concerns over the impact that the increased houses would have on traffic management, as well as the impact on education, leisure and medical facilities in Stonehaven. Other concerns were raised about the overall revised design and layout of the settlement.
Aberdeenshire Council planning officers had recommended that the plans be approved, arguing that amenities in Stonehaven can cope with an extra 42 homes, saying that the overall impact of the increase would be “fairly minor”.
Stephen Archer, director of infrastructure services at Aberdeenshire Council, said: “The site currently has planning consent for 109 residential units.
“To date only 13 properties have been built where the access road enters the development and along the northern boundary of the site along the ridge above the Carron Water.
“The proposed 142 dwellings, in addition to the 13 already constructed, would increase the total number of dwellings to 155, 46 more than the 109 already approved.
“The development would include 43 affordable units amounting to 27.7% affordable housing provision. The initial proposal was for the erection of 147 dwellings in addition to the 13 constructed but this was reduced to 142 to accommodate an amended road layout.
“The applicant removed five open market units but retained the proposed number of affordable units.”
Mr Archer added planners felt due to the level of engagement carried out by the developer they were happy to accept the policy departure.
He said: “The proposal does not fully comply with the Local Development Plan (LDP) and the Planning Service is recommending approval of the application as a departure from LDP Policies H1: Housing land and P1: Layout siting and design, both of which require a masterplan which has gone through appropriate public consultation.
“The Planning Service consider it acceptable to depart from these policies in this regard, due to this requirement not being in place at the time of submission of the application, and that the level of engagement, consideration and consultation on the finalised content during consideration of this and previous applications is tantamount to a robust masterplan for the site.”
However, councillors voted eight to three to refuse the application, on the grounds that a 40% increase of houses was a significant departure from the original application, traffic issues, and concerns about the new design and layout.
Speaking at the Kincardine and Mearns Area Committee meeting this week, Councillor Sarah Dickinson said: “I don’t consider a near 50% increase as a “minor departure” from the original application. It is a significant increase. These developments have a cumulative impact on Stonehaven and it is unacceptable without us seeing a change in what is provided in the town in terms of leisure facilities, as well as other facilities.”
Councillor Colin Pike added: “We have to include an element of common sense here. We have a developer who has approval for 109 houses. The houses aren’t selling, as they are too expensive. The officers claim these new houses meet current needs – we are an ageing population, but there are no bungalows in these plans. The developer has got it wrong. We cannot absorb 142 new houses here. We are being asked to approve something that is wrong and the planning department is not here to get developers out of trouble.”
Committee chair Wendy Agnew agreed: “This is 32 more houses. It puts increased pressure on the medical centre, dentist, and leisure centre. I feel that 142 is too many for the town. With the added housing this will no longer be an award winning designed hamlet, there will be too many houses crammed in to the space.”