Seemingly ambitious plans to create a new community on the banks of the Dee in Aberdeen have been rejected for being too “dull”.
Aberdeen Harbour Board hoped to be granted permission in principle to build 258 flats as well as ground floor shops at the entrance to the city’s Torry area.
Eight buildings, between four and seven storeys tall, were envisaged for a site on the south side of the river, near the Queen Elizabeth Bridge, on South Esplande West.
The harbour board said this could inject new life into Torry and rejuvenate a largely unused area of former industrial land.
But councillors yesterday told the board their plans did not show enough ambition and said the people of Torry deserved better.
As a gateway site to the community – one of Aberdeen’s best-known – they said it should be home to something “iconic”.
And they said the design undersold the potential for the site to have a major impact on the area, wider city and north-east.
Elected members unanimously decided to send the develop back to the drawing board after consideration of the plans and a site visit.
The land, owned by the Harbour Board, has been out of use for years and features a crane depot, petrol filling station, warehouse, mission hall and a hot food takeaway facing on to Victoria Road.
Fish processing works are also located nearby.
Six letters of objection had been submitted to the council, including from two fish processors, a rowing club and martial arts school located on South Esplanade West.
The eight blocks would have sat at right angles, with the flats ranging from one to four bedrooms – with a playpark added for the children on the estate.
Properties would have afforded excellent views over the river towards the city centre and over the coast.
Buy yesterday the city’s planning committee convener, Marie Boulton, said: “I would like to see more ambition here. I think that this is frankly a bit dull.
“This is the gateway to Torry and I think the residents there and the development deserve a really iconic building.
“I think this could be an economic catalyst for the region and in Torry.
“The masterplan is all about ambition and I think the developers have fallen short here.”
Committee member Yvonne Allan, a councillor for Torry, raised fears there were already many shops in the area that had been turned back into flats and worried that new retail offerings would drive more closures.
She said: “There is already a situation with empty shops and people are struggling to sell one-bedroom flats as they are.
“I’m also concerned that the playpark proposed would be dangerous as it is too near the river.”
Councillor Neil Copland questioned the density and height of the blocks, adding: “The parking provision is woefully short and there is also the possibility of noise from the industrial sites.
“I would definitely be against this moving forward as it is.”
A harbour board spokesman said: “We are disappointed with the planning committee’s rejection of our scheme following their site visit, especially given the fact that council planning officials had recommended the application be approved at an earlier meeting held in December.
“Our scheme sought to support Aberdeen City Council’s vision for waterfront regeneration along the River Dee, on what is currently a brownfield site.
“We are awaiting further information from the committee regarding the reasons for rejection in order to decide the most appropriate action to take.”