Controversial plans to build a Starbucks cafe complete with a drive-thru lane in Westhill have been recommended for approval – despite dozens of objections from local residents.
A planning application was submitted to Aberdeenshire Council at the end of last year seeking to build the coffee shop at Arnall Business Park, to the east of Westhill.
According to a report submitted with the application by Lippe Architects, the site – if approved – would operate 24 hours a day and generate at least 20 jobs for the local area.
The location has been on the market since 2006, until it was acquired by the American coffee giant in September last year.
The supporting planning statement said it would “bring forward development on this long-vacant area of ground,” and “enhance the area and the entrance to the town”, as well as provide a “much-needed additional facility” for Westhill.
However, the proposed coffee shop and drive-thru has attracted a total of 50 objections, with just seven representations submitted in support of the project.
One of the groups opposed to the Starbucks plans is Westhill and Elrick Community Council.
In a statement, the organisation said: “This application is a deviation from the Aberdeenshire Local Development Plan, as the land was allocated for high-quality employment, and not designated for a Schedule 3 café and fast-food drive-thru.
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“There has been no economic assessment by the applicant on the viability and vitality of the existing Westhill shopping centre and there has been no justification by the applicant as to why this type of provision is required, particularly as Westhill has an abundance of fast food outlets.
“It appears to be a speculative application linked to the Kingsford Stadium.”
A report which will go before Aberdeenshire Council next week recommends members grant full planning permission, subject to certain environmental conditions.
Its author adds that the proposal involves a “relatively modest” area of employment land which would not be accommodated in the town centre and highlighted the jobs it could generate.
The plans will go before the Garioch Area Committee next Tuesday.
Meanwhile, plans for three food units, including two drive-thru facilities at land adjacent to the nearby Ardene House Vet’s Practice in Kingswells have been recommended for refusal by Aberdeen City Council.
The application will go before the city council’s planning committee today.