Controversial plans to build a gypsy-traveller site in Ellon have been cast into doubt – after it emerged there may not be enough space.
The travellers pitch could essentially be blocked out, depending on the order in which the phased commercial development at Balmacassie Industrial Estate is delivered.
Members of Aberdeenshire Council’s Formartine area committee yesterday discussed the proposals for the commercial scheme, which was rejected last year because it did not include space for a travellers site.
Since then, applicant Susan Davidson – represented by agents Knight Frank – and council officer have been in talks, resulting in another application being presented.
The proposal for the land, north of the A948 Ellon to Auchnagatt road, includes up to 18 commercial units and a hotel.
However, some councillors were frustrated that the wording of the region’s planning policy did not guarantee a transit site – despite that being the reason for refusal last year.
Councillor Alan Hendry, chairman of Aberdeenshire’s gypsy sub-committee, said: “It’s only words.
“It’s lip service and I’m angry. It was my understanding a gypsy-traveller site would be here in perpetuity and now it seems it won’t be.
Councillor Anne Robertson said she was not “content” to shuffle the order of individual developments to block a gypsy site.
She added: “Gypsy traveller sits across Aberdeenshire will disappear the longer we shuffle.”
But Ellon councillor Rob Merson said he did not think the industrial site was an appropriate place for the travellers.
“It’s a matter of public record that I think the inclusion of these sites on industrial developments is a flawed policy,” he said.
Councillor Gillian Owen added: “There is an obvious need for industrial units and there are major challenges with the traveller site within it – we have an equality duty.
“We’re doomed if we do and we’re doomed if we don’t. We will always have an uprising of people which I understand but we have this equality duty.”
The committee, which was asked to comment on the proposal, has requested clarity on the guarantee of traveller site provision.