Plans for 40 new affordable homes on the grounds of a former school have been recommended for approval, despite concerns about the destruction of ancient woodlands.
Aberdeenshire Council is seeking permission to create the 40 rented social housing properties on the old Ellon Academy site as part of efforts to meet the needs of the authority’s housing department.
In total, 15% of the homes will be designed for people with accessibility issues, and the development would include 18 one-bed flats, six two-bed flats, 12 three-bed houses, and four four-bed houses.
However 31 objections have been issued against the plans, including one from the Woodland Trust over worries it could potentially damage the Caroline’s Well woodland, which records show has been a wooded area since at least 1750.
In a report which will go before councillors on the Formartine Area committee next week urging them to approve the plans, officers spelled out the benefits of such a move.
But in a letter to the council, the trust wrote: “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.”
A total of 29 trees would be removed if the development is approved.
A number of Ellon residents who objected to the plans argued there is no need for more housing in the town, and others said they believe the site should be used for the benefit of young people.
One resident wrote: “More houses are not needed.
“We need shops with reasonable rents, so tenants can afford them.”
Another wrote: “Please don’t pass the planning for the volume of housing proposed.
“Please do something, give something to build community facilities.
“I’ve lived in and around Ellon for circa 45 years, and we have lacked facilities for youth, families and the elderly for most of those.”
The report for councillors concluded: “It its concluded that the economic and social benefit of providing 40 units of affordable housing to meet an established need in Ellon would outweigh the loss of a number of trees on site.”
Also included in the council’s wider masterplan for the former academy land and its surroundings is a health centre and community facilities.