A retired health boss has claimed victory over developers who wanted to create a “geriatric ghetto” up a steep hill outside Aberdeen.
The owners of the historic Binghill House, to the north of Milltimber, had drawn up plans to build a “retirement community” in the grounds of the grand home.
The 60-unit development would have featured a 20-bed nursing home alongside a mix of houses, apartments and cottages dotted around the manor.
The village-style scheme was also planned to boast a small shop. allotments and a cafe.
Developers Halliday Fraser Munro claimed the spot had the potential to be “one of the very best retirement villages in the UK”.
Plans labelled ‘just wrong’
Before retiring, Milltimber resident Bruce Anderson worked on developing NHS Grampian’s elderly strategy – and he was aghast when he caught wind of the plans.
A determined Mr Anderson rallied locals to voice their objections, posting leaflets through doors across the suburb.
He is among scores of residents now celebrating after Aberdeen City Council’s planning committee unanimously voted against the development.
Mr Anderson said: “To build something for the elderly at the top of a steep hill is just wrong.
“Elderly people should be cared for within natural communities, not ghettoised.
“It would have been a geriatric ghetto.
“For those living there, there would have been too great a distance to the main road and to public transport.
“Something like this might happen in America but it is totally alien to our culture.”
He added: “Because of my past job with the health board, I am interested in the elderly being well looked-after.
“Having older people integrated into the natural community is something I feel strongly about.”
Retirement community envisaged as ‘fitting legacy’
Halliday Fraser Munro lodged the plans last summer, acting on behalf of the family that has owned Binghill House for “several generations”.
Papers lodged with the council stated: “The vision is to create an active retirement community.
“The applicant’s family has owned Binghill House for several generations and now wish to leave a fitting legacy within the Milltimber community in the form of a retirement village.
“They recognise the lack of high-quality new retirement properties within the west end of Aberdeen and believe that the opportunity exists to create a unique and appropriate development at Binghill.
“We believe that Binghill House has the potential to be one of the very best retirement villages in the UK.”
The firm referenced a similar site in the Cotswolds, and another in Hampshire, when outlining the proposals.
The planning document added: “The recent global health crisis has shown the importance of caring for the oldest folks in our communities and offering a range of
supported accommodation with access to the great outdoors.”
About 150 people objected to the scheme with other concerns including its proximity to the new school being built.
And councillors were quick to quash it during their recent meeting, with every member of the committee voting against the proposal.
Mr Anderson added that many locals also wanted to protect the community’s remaining green space.
He said: “We have got developments to the east and west, so we are feeling a bit boxed in.
“We have beautiful mature trees and wildlife here, there are red squirrels that come into my garden.
“I just hope we get to keep the amenities we have to the north, and it will continue to be a lovely area into the future.”
Home dates back more than 200 years
The New Statistical Account, compiled in 1840, states that the C-listed Binghill House was originally owned by Colonel Alexander Kyle of Binghill, who built a “neat and substantial country seat” after purchasing the estate in 1808.
It remained in his family’s possession until its sale in 1885 to Martin Lindsay Hadden.