Plans for a new £50million Aberdeen FC stadium are one step closer after being backed by city council planning chiefs.
Councillors will vote on the proposals for the new 20,000 seat Kingsford site, between Kingswells and Westhill, on Monday.
And last night, planning chiefs recommended the controversial plans for approval – provided there are no live concerts, no sporting fixtures before 7pm on a weekday and the training facilities are only open between 9am and 9pm.
They acknowledged that traffic on match days would be “substantial” but insisted it would be “off-peak and infrequent”.
In total, the Dons will have to agree to 40 stringent conditions before they can proceed with the project.
Last night, chairman Stewart Milne welcomed the recommendation and vowed to work hard with officers to address “both the real and perceived issues” about the new stadium.
But objectors branded the news “deeply concerning” and said they would be contacting their legal team, with a view to challenging the councillors’ decision if they approve it.
A No Kingsford Stadium spokesman said: “This application is being recommended for approved on economic and public benefit which has not been proven.
“We will be contacting our legal team to begin to review the report with a view to taking further action should councillors vote to approve the application.
“Aberdeenshire Council, the local communities of Westhill and Kingswells and the strategic development planning authority have all objected to this development.
“We very much hope that Aberdeen City councillors will take a view to follow the agreed local development plan and refuse this application.
“We will continue to work, with the tremendous support of the local community, to defeat this application and protect the space around our community.”
Regardless of the decision taken by the city council on Monday, it is likely the government will get involved.
If the application is rejected, the Dons will appeal. If it is approved, it will still have to be referred to the government due to Aberdeenshire Council’s outstanding objection.
Other conditions specified by the officers include a ban on hot food being sold within 150 metres of the ground, the training pitches close to the houses not being used beyond the “early evening” and the expansion of the footpath leading to the Prime Four Business Park.
Officers acknowledged the move would be a “significant departure” from current green belt policy but said there was no other viable spot.
Dons chief Mr Milne said: “We are very pleased that the planners are recommending approval of our planning application for a community sports hub, training facilities and new stadium at Kingsford.
“The additional information supplied in the last few months has helped reinforce the strength of our economic case and the need for co-location. We believe it also underlined that Kingsford is the only viable, suitable and therefore deliverable site for the club.
“We will meet the conditions and work hard to address both the real and perceived issues particularly around transportation and traffic management.”
Aleen Shinnie, from the Kingswells Yes to Kingsford group, felt the conditions reflected a good level of compromise between the club and objectors.
She said: “I can understand closing the training pitches by 9pm as people are not going to want to hear that noise at night.
“I think the club really has tried to work along with a lot of people, especially the council, to try and see what’s going to work best.”