A leading conservation group has objected to plans from Aberdeenshire Council to build 40 new affordable homes on the site of a former school.
Woodland Trust Scotland argues the plan for the land once occupied by Ellon Academy will harm ancient woodlands.
It says an influx of people to the area could intensify pressure on the land, impact wildlife and lead to illegal dumping, while the proximity of homes would lead to pressure to cut down trees to reduce overshadowing and improve television signals.
The local authority is looking to build houses and flats on the site as part of a larger project to develop it for the community.
The 40 homes proposed would be rented social housing in order to meet the needs of the council’s housing department.
Also included in the council’s masterplan for the old academy land and surroundings is a health centre and office and community facilities.
The proposed homes lie near Caroline’s Well Wood, which a planning document describes as a “key green space asset to the town”.
The Woodland Trust Scotland has lodged an objection to the council’s plans over fears they could negatively impact that woodland.
In a letter to the council, the trust notes: “This application is for the re-development of a demolished school site to a housing development, with close proximity to ancient woodland.
“As such, we are concerned about the intensification of the recreational activity of humans and their pets, which can result in disturbance to breeding birds, vegetation damage, trampling, litter and fire damage.”
“In addition, where gardens about woodland or the site is readily accessible to nearby housing, it gives the opportunity for garden waste to be dumped in woodland and for adjacent landowners to extend garden areas into the woodland.
“It can also create pressure to fell boundary trees because of shade and leaf fall and interference with television reception.”
A number of Ellon residents have also objected to the plans, with some arguing there is no need for more housing in the town and others that the site should be used for the benefit of young people.
The council’s design statement reveals one of the aims of the development is to provide “an attractive, welcoming streetscape” and make it a “home zone” with a “pedestrian-friendly environment”.
The statement adds that the development is also designed to “help contribute to the overall sense of place in the community”.
In total, 15% of the homes will be designed for those with accessibility issues.
The development, if approved, would have 18 one-bed flats, six two-bed flats, 12 three-bed houses and four four-bed houses.
The proposals will be considered by the Formartine Area Committee at a later date.