Councillors have asked for more information before committing to the sale of one of the town’s prime development sites.
The five-acre plot on South Harbour Road was once earmarked for a major development that included a multi-million-pound hotel and shopping complex.
A developer wanted to build a 40-bedroom hotel, a 25,000sqft retail unit and a 10,000sqft garden centre, with a view to creating around 100 new jobs.
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Planning permission for the project was even granted back in 2013 but it has since lapsed.
Members of Aberdeenshire Council’s businesses services committee have since gathered once to discuss the sale of the “prominent site” behind closed doors last week.
Members of the public were asked to leave while the talks took place at Woodhill House in Aberdeen.
A source subsequently said the decision to sell the land had been deferred for “further consideration” following the private talks.
It is understood councillors want more information about the potential purchase before pushing ahead.
Last night, a council spokeswoman would not be drawn on the details of the sale of the South Harbour Road plot, nor on who may be interested.
The site is directly opposite the port’s retail park with the Tesco, Lidl and Argos stores all based nearby.
A document sent out to prospective buyers said a flood risk assessments would have to be carried out by any developer, while the presence of a Second World War pillbox – a scheduled ancient monument – would also have to be taken into account.
It adds: “A core path is located close to the site and any development proposal must incorporate suitable connections to it through the site layout.
“It is recommended that any potential development proposals are discussed at the earliest opportunity.”