A north-east village is being “strangled to death” by a lack of new development, according to an Aberdeenshire councillor.
SNP councillor Jim Ingram made the fiery statement in a push to approve plans for two new houses near the village of Auchnagatt at this week’s Buchan Area Committee meeting.
The applications were approved, against planning recommendations, and now couIngram has called for more development to rescue a ‘stagnating’ community.
He said: “I remember as a young lad I use to visit Auchnagatt and there was a whole range of shops.
“Now even the local hotel has been closed – it’s just the village shop left. The village is slowly being strangled to death because of this lack of investment.
“What the community needs is more development. It needs more development to stop the village stagnating.
“I’ve spoken to many people and there are areas designated for new housing but they’re not being taken forward.
“The village, like all villages, needs to grow and I’m concerned that the school role is also dwindling, albeit slowly.”
Councillor Ingram, who represents Central Buchan, added: “It’s about trying to keep the villages of Buchan alive – that’s what I see my role as being.”
Situated on the A948 between New Deer and Ellon, Auchnagatt has become a dormitory village for Aberdeen commuters.
Taylor’s Emporium, run by the Taylor family for the past 90 years, is now the only shop left in the village.
Current proprietor George Taylor said: “Now most of the houses are in effect just B&Bs. Couples who work in Aberdeen just eat and sleep there.
“I’ve lived in the village for 50 years and I’ve seen all the shops and the hotel disappear.
“We’re the only village around about that hasn’t grown – New Deer, Old Deer, Maud and Stuartfield have all seen development.
“We need new people coming into the village.”
In a report presented to councillors at Tuesday’s Buchan Area Committee, Aberdeenshire Council planners recommended that two applications for new houses near the village be rejected.
Nevertheless, councillor Ingram and his colleagues pushed through the proposals in an effort to sustain Auchnagatt.
When challenged by the legal officer to provide a valid planning reason for approving the application, councillor Ingram stressed the plans amounted to ‘organic growth’ within a quarter of a mile of a settlement, as outlined in council policy.