Scotland’s housing minister has been inundated with appeals to intervene in a row over a controversial north-east housing development.
In April, Scottish Ministers overturned Aberdeenshire Council’s refusal of a Barratt North Scotland project to build 121 homes in the Newtonhill area.
The decision provoked anger among many residents of the coastal village, who had campaigned against the scheme because it will be built on a popular walking spot.
Now 140 residents of the village, and nearby Chapelton of Elsick and Muchalls, have called on Kevin Stewart, who is also MSP for Aberdeen Central, to get involved.
The submissions, delivered on the last day of a six-week appeal window, asked Mr Stewart to “call in” the government reporter’s papers to review the decision.
Among the criticisms levelled at the government in the letters, which have been redacted, are that the reporter’s intervention was “undemocratic, disrespectful and disempowering”.
Meanwhile a resident of Chapelton questioned the impact the Barratt scheme would have on the new town and claimed it could “threaten” its viability, as it has grown more slowly than expected.
Liam Kerr, North East MSP, has branded the government’s decision a “planning injustice”.
He said: “The SNP government’s tack on this will be very familiar to dozens of towns and villages across Scotland, where people are concerned about local amenities such as GP staffing and school overcrowding, as well as wider issues such as protecting our environment and the climate crisis.
“They talk about engaged communities and local democracy, but have repeatedly let those very communities down.
“Many of the residents of Newtonhill, Muchalls and Chapelton are kicking-back at what they feel is a great planning injustice.”
The council’s Kincardine and Mearns area committee rejected the Barratt plan in November due to concerns over its impact on local schools, the landscape of the area and access.
The committee also believed the plans breached both national and local planning policies.
The scheme – 109 houses and 12 flats, with 30 properties categorised as affordable – led to a groundswell of protest from the community and 651 letters of objection.
But the firm decided to fight the committee’s decision and appeal.
And the Scottish Government’s reporter agreed with the developer.
They did stipulate that Barratt would have to agree to 22 different conditions which had been submitted by the council.
A Scottish Government spokesman said: “The reporter fully considered all the evidence submitted by the planning authority, the appellant and other parties who made representations in relation to the proposed development.
“A notice of intention has issued indicating the reporter is minded to grant planning permission subject to a suitable legal agreement being reached to cover financial contributions towards community facilities, sports and recreation facilities, health facilities and affordable housing.”