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North-east councillor wanted to build controversial home… now he doesn’t

Aberdeenshire councillor Sandy Duncan.
Aberdeenshire councillor Sandy Duncan.

An under-fire councillor withdrew a controversial housing application at the 11th hour yesterday.

Turriff councillor Sandy Duncan wants to build a house at Forglen, in the Deveron Valley – on the same stretch of land he has been granted consent to erect a wind turbine.

Earlier this week, it emerged he had lobbied his fellow SNP colleagues on the Banff and Buchan area committee to support the turbine plans, which had been rejected once before.

The Tories accused the group of “blatant cronyism”, and the application – which was passed – is to be reexamined by the local authority’s planning committee. Mr Duncan, meanwhile, as since referred himself to the Standards Commissioner.

Yesterday, Mr Duncan had been expected to battle for consent for the house, which planning bosses and locals fear would spoil the views of the local landscape.

But the committee was told that underlying issues surrounding the application meant that it had to be withdrawn.

Before the meeting, director of infrastructure services Stephen Archer had warned councillors that approval would “destroy” the local amenity, and that the home would not “respect the setting of the site”.

“The proposal would have a significant adverse impact on the existing small area of woodland and would destroy the amenity value of this site,” Mr Archer said.

The Marnoch and Deveron Valley Protection Group had also opposed the project.

In a letter to the planning service, campaigner Jacky Player said a new settlement within the Deveron Valley would adversely affect the landscape’s character.

“At present the site is wooded and a substantial number of trees may have to be felled to allow for a house and access drive,” she added.

Last night, Banff and Buchan area manager Margaret-Jane Cardno said applications being withdrawn before a committee meets was “not unusual”.

She added: “There is a couple of outstanding procedural issues that need to be resolved.”

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