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New Alford homes blasted as a ‘burden’ on stretched school

There are fears a new housing development could add to capacity problems at Alford Academy.
There are fears a new housing development could add to capacity problems at Alford Academy.

A housing scheme bringing hundreds of new people to Alford could leave a new school bursting at the seams, opponents have warned.

Aberdeenshire Council today granted permission for 55 new homes in the village despite hearing concerns it will “increase the burden” on Alford Academy.

The secondary school which opened at a new community campus in October 2015 was designed for a maximum of 700 children.

But councillors heard the roll is already at 713, and the influx of new families could send that soaring.

Alford Community Campus when it opened in 2015

But that was not the only complaint swept aside as councillors rubber-stamped the scheme.

For and against new Alford homes

The proposal received 29 objections from residents and a further complaint from Donside Community Council.

They said the new development would have a detrimental impact on the “rural character of Alford” and would lead to overdevelopment.

Concerns were also raised about the impact the new homes would have on local amenities including the health centre, the nearby A-listed Balfluig Castle and wildlife.

Kirkwood Homes is behind the project earmarked for the east of Castle Road.

The development will feature a mix of one to five bedroom properties and 13 affordable homes.

This design image shows how the new Alford homes will be mapped out.

Council planning officers said it has an “appropriate” number and mix of properties.

Allan Rae, Land Director at Kirkwood Homes, told councillors the firm is aiming to start construction before the end of March 2022.

Community leader’s dismay

Donside Community Council chairperson Ann Miller also addressed the Marr Area Committee on Tuesday.

She said problems around access to healthcare and an overcrowded school will “only be negatively impacted by yet more houses and more people”.

Councillor Paul Gibb had asked for the current school roll at Alford Academy before the meeting to help with his decision.

The school moved to the Alford Community Campus in October 2015 and has capacity for 700 pupils, however councillor Gibb was told that the school is already over that figure.

Alford Community Campus is said to be running out of room already.

He added: “Pupil numbers now are 713, if you add any more to that you increase the overcapacity and the burden on the school.

“The economy of the north-east is changing, is there a demand for an additional 55 houses if they were built? Is there capacity within the schools? I don’t think so.”

This shows where the homes will be built.

However councillor Gwyneth Petrie backed the plan despite having some sympathy with those who are against it.

She said: “I do have concerns about ongoing capacity at Alford Academy and the primary as well…

“But I don’t think we can delay housing developments because of that.

“Rather we would need to work with the education service to resolve that, which we have been doing.”

The matter then went to a vote resulting in five backing the application, and two against it.

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