A deal has been struck between a Canadian developer and Aberdeen Council, paving the way for hundreds of homes to be built on the edge of one of the city’s most famous sites.
The finishing touches are being applied to a contract – worth around £3.7 million to the the local authority – which would realise the firm’s plans for the north side of Rubislaw Quarry.
It comes as the Scottish Government suggested the council could be forced to allow the construction, even if an agreement on the money was not reached.
Councillors on the city’s planning committee unanimously rejected the proposals for 245 build-to-rent flats, over nine storeys, last year.
The £70m Rubislaw View would also include a resident-only gym and function room, as well as a public bistro and promenade overlooking the quarry from which millions of tonnes of granite was excavated in the 200 years before its 1970s closure.
More than 400 people officially objected to the proposals, which were recommended for approval by council officers.
Carterra soon launched an appeal with the Scottish Government, and the reporter appointed to review the case has indicated he is minded to overturn the council’s decision.
David Buylla allowed 13 weeks for agreement to be reached on how much the developer would have to pay towards local public services and other conditions which must be met before people can move in.
Concern was raised with the planning appeals division (DPEA) of the Scottish Government late last week, as the deadline passed.
It has now emerged the reporter has extended the negotiation period until the end of this month at the request of council solicitors, despite elected members being fiercely opposed the development.
Last night, Councillor Martin Greig, who sits on the planning committee, told The P&J: “The council made a very clear and unanimous decision to reject this unwelcome and intrusive development proposal.
“We should be acting as one to do what is possible to make sure these enormously unpopular plans don’t go ahead.
“It is strange that finalising the arrangements took so long since the required time to agree the final legal framework, as it is a fairly standard process.
“People would think that failing to meet the deadline might have prevented the proposal from going ahead – many will be surprised it has been allowed to proceed.”
The local authority may well have asked for the extension for fear of the scheme being pushed through without the need for Carterra to pay the £3.7m if a deal was not done – a risk inferred by DPEA case officer, Liz Kerr in an e-mail published on the government’s website.
She said: “The reporter is continually monitoring progress and is satisfied that sufficient progress is being made to consent to a short extension of time to allow for the formalities to be concluded.
“The appeal remains live until he issues his final decision.
“In the event that he considers that no further time should be allowed to conclude the agreement, he would need to consider whether to refuse or to grant permission without one.
“It is likely that the decision will be issued in the next few weeks.”
An Aberdeen City Council spokeswoman said: “Talks between the developer and the council are now concluded and the process is being finalised.”
Carterra did not respond to request for comment.