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Refusal for Foveran factory site plan

By David Porter

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Plans submitted by a timber frame kit firm for a new facility at Foveran have been refused by councillors.

Norframe had applied to Aberdeenshire Council for permission to build the proposed facility near Kinknockie Farm, Foveran.

As a departure from local planning, the application was considered by the Formartine Area Committee who heard that the site would be used to produced timber frame kits for housing projects by Cairnrowan and other home builders.

Plans for the factory had been developed to address supply issues with the firm’s existing manufacturer and were cited to created 40 new jobs.

The proposed site at Kinknockie sits next to an anaerobic digestion plant that would the applicant said would have been used to provide energy to power the factory and office.

However the application site was not included in the Local Development Plan and the proposal failed to meet four of Aberdeenshire Council’s policies including housing and employment development elsewhere in the countryside and layout, siting and design.

Two objections to the application had been received prior to the meeting raising concerns on matters including road safety, loss of prime agricultural land and the impact on the landscape and amenity of the area.

Objectors also noted that the application did not comply with Energetica criteria required for new developments in the area.

The council’s Roads Development team objected to the proposal as it is not “well connected” to nearby developments and the site has no access to public transport links.

Despite these objections council planners had recommended the application be approved and referred to the Infrastructure Services Committee stating that it was an acceptable departure from policy.

At the meeting councillor Gillian Owen moved a motion to refuse the application due to the policy departures, the unallocated Development Plan site and transportation concerns.

She said: “I understand why the service is keen to support an application like this because it is quite exciting but at the same time I’m somewhat surprised that we are being asked to approve something which goes against so many of our policies.”

Councillor Jim Gifford said he could not support the application and added: “I think it’s a brilliant project, it’s exactly what we want future developments to look like but I just can’t support it on this site when we have alternatives.”

Meanwhile councillor Paul Johnston moved an amendment to support the planner recommendations.

He said that there were “reasonable” reasons for departure from policy and said the application “ticks all of the boxes as far as heading towards sustainability and circular economy”.

After going to a vote the motion to refuse received six votes to five for the amendment.

This now leaves the route open for an appeal through Scottish Ministers via the Department of Environmental and Planning Appeals.

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