A north-east port’s seafront is in line for a major revamp – if plans for hundreds of new homes are backed by councillors.
Members of the local authority’s Banff and Buchan area committee will be asked next week to approve the first phase of a huge housing development to the west of Fraserburgh.
And that could pave the way for the building firm behind the multi-million-pound Merryhillock project to invest in new facilities at the town’s beach esplanade.
The masterplan for local company Claymore Homes’ 590-property scheme – on land near Boothby Road – was agreed by councillors in August.
The firm originally set out proposals to include sports fields in its scheme as part of its “developer contribution”, but now council planners have recommended the money be spent elsewhere.
In a report to the area committee, the local authority’s infrastructure chief, Stephen Archer, says: “Developer contributions will be sought from the applicant towards sport and recreation facilities at beach esplanade, and healthcare at Saltoun Medical Practice.
“It is noted two sports pitches at Merryhillock specified by the masterplan are not required.
“Instead, the preferred option by the council is now seeking contributions towards facilities at the beach esplanade.”
Mr Archer adds that the developer obligations will be part of a legally-binding Section 75 agreement.
The first phase of the Merryhillock scheme – 52 houses – would also include 16 affordable properties.
Claymore Homes boss, Steven Rollo, said: “We’re extremely happy it’s finally got to this stage. We’re 97% sold out for the first phase so we’ve got plenty of eager customers.
“There’s a pent-up demand because there hasn’t been any house building in Fraserburgh over the last few years.
“In terms of the esplanade, that was their preferred contribution.”
However, the idea has not proved universally popular.
Mary Melville, vice-chairwoman of Fraserburgh Community Council, raised concerns it would leave children in the new Merryhillock neighbourhood without space to play.
She said last night: “I’m a bit disappointed because there’s really nothing sports-wise for the people who live on the west side of the town.
“There’s a lot of young children in that area and they have to go all across the town to the all-weather pitches.
“My first response is these children have to go on foot a long way from the Boothby Road area to the swimming pool for instance.”
The formal planning application for the first phase of the Merryhillock development will be discussed at a meeting of the Banff and Buchan area committee on Tuesday.
Council planners have recommended members approve the project and construction work could begin within weeks.
The new homes are being built to meet growing demand as Aberdeen commuters are priced out of the housing markets in towns such as Ellon.
Last year, Fraserburgh topped a league table showing the rising price of property in seaside towns across the UK.
Fraserburgh, Cove Bay, Peterhead, Inverbervie and Stonehaven took the top five places in the study, based on official government figures.
In Fraserburgh, the average house price had risen to £129,325, up 141% from £53,641 in 2004.