Plans for a Buddhist monastery in the Aberdeenshire countryside have been backed.
Aberdeenshire Council’s Garioch area committee yesterday approved full planning permission for the Varapunya Meditation Centre at Kinmundy, between Westhill and Kingswells.
Councillors agreed to progress with the plans – which were stalled in December following a debate about the number of parking spaces proposed.
The committee decided the change of use of the property should be supported, on the condition the car parking area had room for no more than eight cars.
The initial plans had proposed spaces for 30 vehicles. Eleven objections were received, with fears raised about the increased use of the private access road to the property – which is maintained privately by locals.
The centre, run by volunteers, is dedicated to the teachings within the Theravada tradition of Buddhism and has been running from Aberdeen’s Constitution Street for the last three years.
It will be the permanent residence of Venerable Sujan, with meditation classes organised several days a week, along with daily chanting sessions.
Local resident, Brian Haston, said the limitation on parking spaces at the Varapunya Meditation Centre was a welcome compromise, which would generate “harmony with the community” on the plans.
Residents have spent roughly £100,000 maintaining the route in the past six years.
Mr Haston added the local authority would not adopt the road, despite approving developments which “increase costs for the residents”.
He said: “Our objection was mainly based on the amount of additional traffic that the application would bring given it had 30 car parking spaces associated with it.
“We were not happy such an application would be approved without the council ultimately taking responsibility for the access road and its condition.
“Nobody was objecting to the monastery per se; what we were objecting to was the increase in traffic on the road and the fact we have to maintain it privately.
“They (the planners) have recommended that the applicant provide road repairs and additional passing places. We hope they offer something in that respect.”
Another local said: “I think it adds diversity to the area and I think each to their own.”
The plans include the creation of gardens, summerhouses and a woodlands area featuring grass paths, shrubs, flower beds and a vegetable patch.
Venerable Sujan has previously said the centre would be a place to retreat from the “stresses of daily life”.