Controversial plans for 245 flats on the edge of Aberdeen’s iconic Rubislaw Quarry have been backed – despite being voted down unanimously by councillors.
A Scottish Government reporter has been considering an appeal launched by developer Carterra since the £70 million proposals were thrown out in June.
David Buylla, appointed by ministers to consider the case, has now indicated he is “minded to allow the appeal and grant planning permission,” subject to conditions.
The build-to-rent development was heavily opposed by the Aberdeen public, with more 400 people registering their objections to its “prison block” nine-storey structure.
Despite this, the proposals were backed by planning officers – though their recommendations were rejected by all nine committee members in June.
The plans include a residents-only gym, function room, public bistro and promenade above the quarry, which has been out of public sight for the last 40 years.
Signalling his intention to permit the plans, Mr Buylla said: “My conclusion is that planning permission should be grante subject to the conditions that the council has requested, with minor changes to improve clarity to which the appellant has not objected.”
The Canadian developer will have to sign up to a legal document ensuring they will uphold the conditions set out by the reporter before permission is formally granted.
Council planning officials outlined payments of £3.4m for affordable housing and another £250,000 to go towards upgrades to nearby Hazlehead Academy, Hazlehead Park and local paths.
The payment would also cover upgrades to Hamilton Medical Practice and other existing health facilities in the city.
Local protests against the plans have been led by Hugh Black, who wants to build heritage centre celebrating the quarry’s past role in the city’s industry.
Before its closure in the early 1970s, it earned Aberdeen its Granite City nickname as millions of tonnes of the rock was excavated from it.
Still considering the reporter’s ruling, Mr Black said: “I’m shocked at the decision but that will be the same as thousands of others in the city.
“This is just a crazy, crazy decision to be made on such an important site in Aberdeen.”
Aberdeen City Council was approached for comment.
Local Liberal Democrat councillor Martin Greig, who made the case for the plans to be turned down at committee, described it as “a harsh blow”.
“The opposition to this was enormous and it was hard to find anyone in favour,” he added.
“We made a strong and clear case against this development and this reversal is really discouraging and disappointing.
“Thousands in the city will regret this decision and the Scottish Government has simply brushed away the concerns of the council and residents.
“We all came together to oppose this unwelcome proposal for the quarry area.
“This enormous building will be visually intrusive and overwhelming and the design is completely inappropriate for this sensitive location.”
Councillors also raised concerns about the number of parking spaces at the development and its links to public transport.
In 2018, Carttera’s original plans for nearly 300 flats were rejected.
Again, they had been recommended for approval but councillors went with the hundreds of objectors and voted them down.
The Scottish Government reporter upheld the council’s decision upon appeal.