Councillors yesterday dismissed a developer’s bid to have planning conditions relaxed on a huge 3,000 homes scheme in Aberdeen – warning it risked an “unmitigated disaster”.
A dispute between the three main firms behind the £700million plans for Countesswells, west of Hazlehead Park, was raised at a meeting of the full council.
Planning permission was granted for the work last October, subject to a series of conditions.
However, the Stewart Milne Group has since asked if it could negotiate a separate agreement with the council on the provision of schools and roads at the site, because it could not reach a deal on the work with its consortium partners, Heron Property and IDJ Properties.
Local authority planning chiefs told councillors that such a move would be unusual and would risk that crucial infrastructure was not built.
But they recommended that the proposal be approved in order to to ensure the development remained on track, and to protect an £80million UK Treasury loan towards the work.
No councillors backed the proposal when it was discussed yesterday – with many expressing anger that it had even been considered.
Finance convener Willie Young said: “I find it incredible as to how we’ve got into this position because it would appear, if no-body moves these recommendations, then our officers have absolutely misjudged the mood of the collective.”
A majority of councillors backed an amendment tabled by Marie Boulton, the authority’s deputy leader, which said that the previously-agreed conditions – approved last October when planning permission was granted – should continue to stand.
Ms Boulton said: “I don’t believe we should be shifting the balance of risk from the developer to the council, and then in turn to services in this city and the taxpayer.”
Conservative group leader Ross Thomson said: “If the developers are squabbling, that is their problem. We shouldn’t be supporting something that could be an unmitigated disaster.”
Several Liberal Democrat councillors argued that the planning permission should be completely withdrawn because local roads and schools would not be able to cope, however an amendment from Ian Yuill was defeated.
The Stewart Milne Group said in a statement last night: “Countesswells is a strategically significant development for Aberdeen and the wider region and we are pleased the council has reconfirmed its commitment for the delivery of this exciting new community.
“We believe that our proposal tabled today would have facilitated an accelerated delivery of this much needed development.
“In conjunction with the development partners, we will continue towards reaching agreement with the council on all aspects required to deliver this new development.”