Braemar is in danger of turning into “Disneyland Cairngorms” filled with second homes which are empty for several months of the year, it has been claimed.
Upper Deeside councillor Geva Blackett claimed rising house prices mean young people are being “excluded” from the housing market in the Royal Deeside village.
Ms Blackett said Braemar “desperately needs” small homes to allow people to live and work in the area.
The independent, formerly of the SNP, highlighted the case of one local business which currently has 40 vacancies and is struggling to hire staff.
Village becoming ‘Disneyland’
She raised concerns that the community is at risk of turning into a type of “Disneyland” where the entire local workforce commutes from elsewhere.
It comes after councillors waved through plans for a mansion on a site which could have accommodated up to six smaller homes.
The development at Chapel Brae was approved despite concerns it would exacerbate the current shortage of housing in the village.
Currently, businesses in the area are struggling to recruit staff – at least in part due to the issue of finding them somewhere to live.
“I feel very strongly we need the right housing, for the right people to work here in Braemar and to underpin our economy and our community,” Ms Blackett said.
“Young people who grew up here, who have been excluded from the housing market here because of rising prices, should have the opportunity to buy into affordable housing – be that shared equity or self-build.
“The move to agree this application means less potential for local people doing local jobs, supporting local businesses and the local economy to get a foot on the housing ladder.
“That makes me sad.”
Local economy ‘threatened’ by crisis
At the meeting of the Marr area committee where the application was decided, Ms Blackett argued the ongoing situation was “threatening the whole economy” in the village.
She claimed businesses are “frantic” for their staff to have access to affordable housing, while families are “desperate” to find homes.
According to National Records of Scotland, 81 of Braemar’s 389 houses are second homes – around 20%.
Developments in the area have to include 45% affordable housing under rules set out in the Aberdeenshire local development plan.
However, that does not apply to projects consisting of less than four homes, although they are required to make a financial contribution towards housing in the community.
Planning agent Elaine Farquharson-Black, acting on behalf of the applicant, said it was the “first time” she had had to justify building fewer units on a site earmarked for more.
A spokeswoman for Aberdeenshire Council said: “Affordable housing delivery is based on a number of factors including both demand and viability.
“There has been a healthy supply of affordable housing over the last few years within the Marr area and the forthcoming strategic housing investment plan will show a healthy programme for the years 2022-2027.”