Councillors defer Peterhead expansion decision as rail plan revealed
Plans have emerged for a proposed expansion of Peterhead to potentially include a new railway station as councillors delayed making a decision on the project.
Multi-million pound plans to build a new village of more than 1,100 properties at South Ugie on the outskirts of the town were first unveiled to the public in 2014.
The masterplan, which also included a raft of new businesses, shops, a health centre and a primary school, was recommended for approval by council planners as it went before Aberdeenshire Council’s Buchan Area Committee on Tuesday.
The decision was ultimately delayed but it emerged that the project’s planning consultants Knight Frank wants to pave the way for residents to use the former Buchan railway line.
The route of the rail link between the north-east port and Aberdeen crosses land which is now at the heart of the South Ugie scheme to the west of Peterhead.
The infrastructure of the Buchan line has long since been torn up – although a railway museum occupies the former station at Maud 12 miles from Peterhead – and the port and neighbouring Fraserburgh are now the two towns furthest from the British rail network.
However a new study commissioned by north-east transport partnership Nestrans suggests the reintroduction of a rail link north of Aberdeen could ease pressure on the road network.
In a report to the committee, Aberdeenshire Council planning officer Elizabeth Tully said Nestrans made a commitment to look at the costs and benefits of reopening the railway.
“This study is currently under way and an appraisal report was published in March,” she said.
“As a result of this, a site has been reserved in the (South Ugie) masterplan beside the Buchan and Formartine Way for a potential future railway station.”
Miss Tully added that the land would not be developed until such time as it might be needed as a station. No designs for a station have been tabled.
Peterhead councillor Stephen Smith said the allocation of land was a vote of confidence in the campaign to reintroduce rail to the north-east.
“I would commend the applicant for their support of the return of rail,” Councillor Smith said. “But I suspect if and when it does come it will be to Ellon.”
The first phase of the South Ugie development would include building 510 houses as well as new access junctions and a cycle crossing.
The second phase would see 245 homes built, along with a neighbourhood centre and medical centre.
The primary school, if required, would come in phase 3 alongside 275 more houses while stage four would see the final 85 houses completed along with a nature reserve. The proposed railway station would fall within the fourth phase.
Councillors deferred a decision on whether or not to approve the overall masterplan for the South Ugie site until the autumn so the developers can hold further talks with local residents.