A north-east town is facing a population explosion as developers announce plans for a major housing expansion.
The 450-home scheme proposed for the east of Turriff could increase the number of residents in the market town by 20%.
Developer Halliday Fraser Munro has submitted a proposal of application notice on behalf of three local landowners for the land at Balmellie and Delgaty – an indication that a major planning application is imminent.
However, residents have raised concerns that an influx of new families could cripple already strained education and health services.
Last night Turriff Community Council treasurer John Smith said questions had to be asked now about the impact on existing infrastructure.
“It’s a lot of folk – 450 homes could mean as many as 1,000 new residents for a town of 5,000,” he said.
“Have they factored in this number of people into the development of the new school?
“There has also been talk of improving the A947 which is such a dangerous road. They’ll have to think about that. There are a lot of factors here.”
Fellow townsfolk raised similar doubts about the viability of the project. Sandie Ogg said healthcare, education, transport and social care provision would also have to expand.
Another local resident, who did not want to be named, said the town’s secondary school was “already bursting at the seams” and that there would be few employment opportunities for new residents.
The land to the east of Turriff, referred to as M1 in the 2012 Local Development Plan, has been set aside for a development of this kind.
The plan outlines how a housing scheme should be laid out, including space for a new primary school.
At least two access points will need to be built, as well as a new eastern bypass for the town.
The development will have to incorporate at least 112 affordable homes and the nearby Woods of Delgaty must be protected at all costs.
A spokeswoman for Halliday Fraser Munro stressed this was the beginning of a long process and that public opinion would help to shape the scheme.
She said: “It’s not a planning application, it’s a proposal of application notice. There will be a consultation event early next month which will be an opportunity to come and have a look at the masterplan.
“In line with the existing local development plan, we have to produce a masterplan. This is kicking that process off and it’s a long term project before an application is submitted.”
The public consultation drop-in will be held at Turriff Town House on September 3. Local residents will be able to speak to planners from the firm and view indicative designs.