Housing development prompts high anxiety
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The amount of landfill at the housing development at Banff’s Walker Avenue is causing concern.
A BANFF councillor has expressed concern over the impact of a new housing development in the town and said that "lessons need to be learned".
Residents living close to the scheme in Walker Avenue have agreed with Councillor John Cox that the houses have the potential to tower above neighbouring properties.
Work on the development has only just begun, but Councillor Cox has been alarmed by the amount of earthworks going on, and is worried that the homes may be a lot higher than he had first thought.
"I am really concerned about the height of the development and the landfill that is going on at the site," said Councillor Cox.
"It is at an early stage, but with the amount of land being moved, the houses are going to be towering up. I thought the new houses would follow the natural slope of the site.
"The former school had a very open landscape, but at this stage the plans cannot be changed."
Most of the residents in Walker Avenue live on the side of the street opposite the scheme, in properties at a lower height.
In a letter to the council, Alice Ritchie (69), of 19 Walker Avenue, said: "Residents suggest that, in the future, no large-scale developments should be constructed without a scale model of the buildings and a model of the surrounding area made available to the public before the planning objection stage.
"We don’t want to appear as if we are against houses on the site, because we are not, but we are concerned about the height they will be, the extra traffic they will generate and the general appearance."
Langstane Housing Association originally bought the site and secured planning permission, but could not agree a date to begin development.
Aberdeenshire Council bought back the site for £340,000, and was awarded funding from the Scottish Government for a scheme of council houses.
Councillor Cox said that the local authority needed to improve its consultation procedures over intended developments.
He said: "Lessons need to be learned here with regard to closer consultation with residents and local members over developments like this.
"Notices are given through the council’s website, but people do not always log on to that.
"I have asked for a meeting with the council’s property service, which will take over the houses when they are completed. Hopefully, this will discuss possible landscaping and ways to mitigate the impact on the amenity of the area. I hope this will take account of some of the residents’ concerns."
The development has already proved controversial as a result of the perceived risks of an increase in traffic near Banff Primary School.
Parents were concerned over the safety of their children on Walker Avenue and on one-way Institution Terrace near one of the school’s entrances.
Aberdeenshire Council refused to change the plans for the development, but agreed to consider traffic-calming measures.