A housing developer who wants to treble the size of a north-east village looks likely to win a planning appeal against Aberdeenshire Council.
Stewart Milne Homes applied for permission to build 45 houses, including 10 affordable homes, at Crathes last year, but the proposals were unanimously rejected by the Marr area committee.
Now a planning reporter appointed by Scottish Ministers to investigate the firm’s appeal, has issued a notice of intention to grant permission.
The move was branded “a blow for local democracy” by one community leader last night.
However, John Low, managing director of Stewart Milne Homes, welcomed the decision by planning reporter Stephen Hall.
He said the development would bring benefits for the wider community through developer contributions towards medical facilities and the village hall.
“I am pleased that the reporter, who is an independent party, believes that the development we are proposing meets all the standards that are required of us and that he has not agreed with the councillors’ reasons for refusal,” he said.
“The plans have actually been viewed as being appropriate and of a good enough quality by council planning officers, an independent design panel and the Scottish Government’s reporter – and that is a lot of comfort.
“We are bringing mains gas to the village for the first time and appropriate sewerage treatment all the way to Banchory,” added Mr Low.
“Existing residents who wish to connect to these systems will be able to do so through the relevant service authorities.”
Stewart Milne Homes expects to buy the land next month and construction could begin in August with the first residents moving in during the first half of 2015.
The site is zoned for housing in the current local development plan and the application was recommended for approval by council planners.
However, councillors said the developer had not done enough to address concerns about the impact of the scheme on such a picturesque setting.
Some residents remain concerned about the impact of the development on the village and surrounding area.
David Morrish, vice-chairman of the Crathes, Drumoak and Durris community council, said: “I think the decision is a blow for local democracy when the Scottish Government does not support local decisions.
“There are advantages for the local community but as a result of the infrastructure needed a lot of people in Deeside will have to suffer as a result of trying to construct this development.”