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New Inverurie homes plan rejected over green space issues

By Kirstie Topp - Local Democracy Reporter

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A masterplan by Cala Homes to build up to 100 new homes in Inverurie has been rejected over fears it won’t have enough open space for future residents.

Outline proposals for the potential development at Conglass on the outskirts of the town went before councillors on Tuesday. Cala had hoped to add between 90 to 100 homes on the site, located next to the housebuilder’s recently completed development The Grange and Bennachie View Care Home. The new houses were likely to be detached four and five-bedroom properties.

The plan would have added additional homes to the existing development at Conglass
The plan would have added additional homes to the existing development at Conglass

Meanwhile 25 per cent of the development was earmarked for affordable housing to be provided by either Aberdeenshire Council or a housing association. But as it was just an initial masterplan, a more detailed site plan with a final number and confirmed house types would still need to be drawn up. However, following an almost two hour debate, members of the Garioch area committee voted to throw the masterplan out.

East Garioch councillor Glen Reid didn’t agree with the proposal. He was worried the site would not meet the local authority’s recommended policy to provide 40% of quality open space. In masterplan documents, the homebuilder revealed it would leave just 36% of open space on the Conglass site. But the councillor didn’t think that was good enough. He said: “Our requirement for 40% is not a maximum, it’s a minimum. We require it for certain reasons, it’s for the people living in that locality so they can enjoy their residence. We should expect at the very minimum 40 per cent and on that basis I don’t think we should proceed.”

Mr Reid argued rejecting the plan would mean the developers would have to clarify all of the committee’s concerns and labelled it a “win-win”.

Fellow councillor Jim Gifford had suggested the masterplan be deferred instead to give developers more time to address the open space concerns. He also wanted Cala Homes to propose two access points to the site, something he said was “critical” for residents and emergency vehicles. Committee members raised flooding concerns too.

A suds drainage pond had been proposed to be added to a site across the road from Cala’s first housing development on North Street. But there was some worry that any excess water from the new site would run down the existing housing estate potentially impacting residents there.

Committee chairwoman Marion Ewenson said: “It is a very steep site but it does seem slightly worrying that people could be impacted by any potential flooding in the future. That will come into any future planning applications in more detail but it is a slightly worrying idea to have the suds so far away.”

Committee members also thought the site was in danger of being located too far away from the town centre and needed to be better connected. Meanwhile an appeal was made for developers to consider adding bungalows to help address Aberdeenshire’s aging population. But after going to a vote, the refusal was backed by nine to five. The site hasn’t been too popular with Inverurie residents either.

Cala Homes held two public consultations earlier this year to give people the chance to learn more about the proposal. Over both events, a total of 22 people gave feedback of which 14 were opposed, seven were neutral and just one person gave their support. Concerns raised by objectors included overdevelopment of the site and fears the new homes would overlook existing properties. Others had issues with the proposed homes and there was also some belief that the town’s schools and GP surgery wouldn’t be able to cope with an influx of residents.

Cala Homes previously submitted plans for the Conglass site including 145 homes, 12 flats and commercial units back in December 2022. But the proposal was later withdrawn to allow the homebuilder to review their designs and address the need for a masterplan first. A spokeswoman for Cala Homes (North), said the homebuilder was “naturally disappointed” that its masterplan was not supported. They added: “We will be reviewing the points raised with a view to progressing at a later date. We worked closely with the council and local community to make sure our plans were suited to the needs of the area, while delivering much-needed affordable and private homes.”

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