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Dons bosses defend plans for £50million new stadium as planning chiefs raise concerns

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Aberdeen FC bosses have defended plans for a £50million new stadium as a force for “positive change” – despite north-east planning chiefs highlighting a string of concerns.

Aberdeenshire Council’s planning service has conceded that the application to move the Dons from Pittodrie to Kingsford could provide “considerable benefits to the nearby community”.

However, they warned there were still a number of issues which needed to be addressed.

Last night Aberdeen FC executive vice-chairman, George Yule, said all major developments were likely to encounter some difficulties.

But he said he believed the development would still deliver social and economic benefits to the whole of the north-east.

He said: “All major planning proposals have some challenges associated with them.

“In developing our plans for the community and training campus and new stadium we have consulted with stakeholders and statutory consultees from the very beginning, including Aberdeen City Council as the planning authority and Aberdeenshire Council as the immediate neighbouring local authority, community councils and elected representatives from across the region.

“There is a compelling case for delivering private investment of this scale at this time for the sustainable future of the club, extending the work of the community trust and delivering wider social and economic benefits to the north-east.

“As a city and region we need to decide whether we have capacity and desire to make positive change happen – to encourage investment and demonstrate a can do attitude – at a time of economic transition.”

Despite accepting that the proposed 20,000 – seater Dons stadium will add “considerable benefits” to the surrounding area, Aberdeenshire planners have also tabled a list of concerns arising from the planning application.

These include the affects of noise pollution, loss of greenbelt land and the impact on local roads and walkways.

The council’s transportation department has also lodged a holding objection against the plans amid claims the proposals will cater for 867 parking spaces “in excess” of the city council’s normal standard for stadiums.

Issues were further raised over whether early kick off times would affect “peak traffic periods”.

And planners said they felt the other alternative sites for the new stadium had not been “adequately considered”.

They claimed the current application was “overemphasising the importance of proximity to the AWPR”.

As part of consultation on the plans, the local authority’s Garioch area committee will meet at Inverurie’s Gordon House next Tuesday.

However, Aberdeenshire Council will only play a “limited role” in the planning process for the stadium, which will ultimately be determined by the city council.

The Pittodrie replacement would have 1,300 parking spaces, three first team training pitches, two community ones and a pavilion which would include offices, changing rooms and a gym.

It may also feature a heritage museum charting the history of the team, a new club store, a “red cafe” and a memorial garden.

Last night Lynne Tracy, of the Banchory Reds Dons supporters group, said she believes the proposed stadium would bring massive benefits to Aberdeenshire.

She said: “Obviously with us being in Banchory, it would be nearer for us and a lot of other Aberdeenshire supporters clubs so we’re very much in favour.

“But it’s not just going to be a new stadium, the new training facilities and all the other proposals will all be of huge benefit.

“People just don’t like change.

“It’s not going to last forever at Pittodrie, and wherever it’s going to move to, people will object no matter what.

“And with the argument about traffic, once the AWPR is up and going traffic will flow a lot better.

“Kingsford will be good for the team, and for sport all across the north-east.”

However members of the No Kingsford Stadium group – which is battling to block the project – said: “I think from our perspective the fact that the transport department is lodging a holding objection really just states the fact this is the wrong location to bring thousands of cars – into an unsafe environment.

“If you just took the park and ride area (in Kingswells), there will be loads of fans walking along that road – the path is no more than 6ft wide. These will be unseparated fans.

“The report upheld the points we have been making all along. However, I really respect there are people that support the application. The facts speak for themselves.”