Retrospective plans to make a four-pitch traveller’s site near Boddamn permanent have been narrowly refused by Aberdeenshire councillors, despite recommendations by officials they be approved.
The site, which includes four caravan stances, a toilet block and parking, is surrounded by wooden fencing and has been in place for a number of years.
Temporary permission was granted for three years in January 2017, and as this permission was due to expire, a retroactive application for full planning permission to make it an official traveller’s site, located next to Springhill Cottages in Boddam, was submitted.
Officers had originally recommended councillors approve the planning application, on the grounds it would benefit members of the gypsy and traveller community.
However, objections were raised against the proposals over concerns for road safety and traffic, loss of amenity, drainage, bin storage, water supply, landscaping, and amid questions asking why a traveller’s site would be permitted, but a house on the same site would not be supported by the council’s planning service.
A motion to refuse the application during yesterday’s full Aberdeenshire Council meeting, which was held online, was passed by 34 votes to 31 in favour of approval.
Peterhead South and Cruden SNP councillor Stephen Smith put forward the motion to refuse.
He said: “I think the full council has a record of supporting applications for traveller’s sites over the years.
“This application is different in that when it came before full council seeking temporary permission in 2016, it was correctly refused unanimously at that time, which is highly unusual for Aberdeenshire Council and tells us much about the nature of this application.
“The development is significantly detrimental to the amenity enjoyed by residents in the area, and the development is not sustainable as it is remote from public infrastructure.”
Independent Councillor Stephen Calder, also representing Peterhead South and Cruden, put forward an amendment to approve, saying: “It is the right thing to do”.
“Aberdeenshire Council recognises the accommodation needs of gypsy travellers, and this is included in the gypsy traveller sub-committee action plan, which states that ‘we will provide assistance to gypsy travellers who would like to develop at private sites’.”
Council officials are now expected to liaise further with the applicants.