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Hearing held on Aberdeen retirement village plans

Retirement village artist impression
An artists impression of the proposed development at Binghill House.

A hearing has been held to discuss plans for a new retirement village in an Aberdeen community.

The city council’s planning committee discussed an application to turn Binghill House in Milltimber into a retirement village of 60 residential units.

Also included in the plans are proposals for a small shop, a café and a community allotment.

The residential side has been put forward as a mixture of cottages and flats.

The application was submitted in July last year, and is a revision on previous applications, reducing the amount of homes originally proposed from 140 to 60.

Normally councillors would carry out a site visit, however, this was not possible due to Covid-19.

The pre-determination hearing gave members the opportunity to ask questions about the development.

Although no opinions are allowed to be expressed at this stage and the application will go back to the committee at a future date.

Council officer Gavin Clark said: “The site is zoned as green belt and green space network.

“The local development plan further states that proposals for development associated with existing activities in the green belt will be permitted but only if all of the following criteria are met; the development is within the boundary of an existing activity, the development is small scale, the intensity of activity is not significantly increased and any proposed built construction is ancillary to what exists.

“The proposal itself has received 173 representations, which includes 147 in objections, 24 in support and two neutral comments.”

The Binghill House grounds.

It was highlighted that the applicant plans to offer a free shuttle bus to residents to North Deeside Road to give them access to public transport because it is not in walking distance.

Councillors had queries about footpaths and whether different mobility needs would be catered for and what the role of Binghill House would be.

The house will be used as an administrative social centre, and the upper floors could be used as visitor accommodation.

Steve Crawford, planning director of Halliday Fraser Munro, who was speaking on behalf of the applicant, said: “The site is immediately north of Milltimber, it includes Binghill House and grounds which is a private house in residential use.

“The proposal is for an age-specific over 60s active retirement extension to Milltimber community offering choice in the housing market for over 60s. It’s designed as low-rise, low impact and it opens up the grounds for public use.

“We believe this type of development, an age-specific development, is only really viable on sites like this, they’re not viable on mainstream housing sites, they can’t really compete.

“Developer obligations have been established to cover core paths, healthcare and community facilities.

“Officers have suggested that an earlier concept is preferred but both indicative layouts can achieve a quality and appropriate development that fits the site’s context, location and respects the house, but more importantly illustrates that there is a design solution for this site that the applicant is happy to explore.”

It was added that development objections were mostly from people who don’t want any more homes built in the area, while letters of support were keen for the city to support an ageing population.

Applicant Shona Byers added: “Over generations the Donald family have been part of the local Milltimber community and try to help improve local amenities as much as we could, by gifting land to the church and the community centre. As a family we are committed to protecting and enhancing the Deeside community.

“Sadly six years ago I lost both my parents within three years of each other, thus I inherited Binghill House and policies and plans surrounding it. I have managed to lease the house sporadically, but it has provide to not be economically viable and I had to think of alternatives to the future.

“My idea to turn Binghill House into an active retirement village arose from my own personal experience with my parents, when my mum became ill she needed constant care but my dad was very still much active. My dad wanted to stay in Milltimber where he had been all his life, but there was nothing to fulfil their needs.”

The plans will be further discussed and decided at a later meeting of the planning development management committee.

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