Torphins plans set for approval

PLANS for two separate residential developments, in the Craigmyle area of Torphins, look set to get the go-ahead. But final planning approval will depend on a series of conditions being met.

Wednesday, 23rd June 2010, 2:22 pm

One development will involve the building of two houses with garages, east of Kirkbrae Cottage, Craigmyle Road, Torphins, the other would create a new house and garage near The Creamery, at Craigmyle, Torphins. Both planning applications, seeking full permission, have come from Mr Gordon Drummond, Craigmyle Estate Limited, based at Craigharr House, Keithhall, Inverurie (through agent Robb Keir Design, Aboyne).

Members of Aberdeenshire Council's Marr Area Committee, meeting at Braemar last week, were told in a report that the planning applications were part of an overall development plan by Craighall Estates Limited to diversify its existing forestry business into tourism, with the aim of providing chalets in a woodland setting near Logie Coldstone on Deeside.

The current planning applications were designed to raise capital to fund the diversification plans and a business case was submitted, outlining these proposals. However, Councillors were advised in the report that, in terms of housing policy, the tourism plans were not a justification for approval of the residential plans before them.

A report on the application for two houses at Craigmyle Road said that the properties would be on "generous" areas of land and, as the site was outwith the Torphins settlement, the application would have to be determined under housing in the countryside planning policies. There was one letter supporting the proposal but seeking confirmation that a footpath between the site and Churchwood would be retained as a right of access.

The planners' view was that the application was acceptable in principle. It was considered that appropriate conditions could be used to ensure that the location was designed to avoid removing the most valuable trees on the proposed sites and also retain tree cover to the rear of the developments. They recommended that authority to grant planning permission should be delegated to the Director of Planning and Environmental Services, subject to conditions. One of these could be the possibility of moving the houses forward, to minimise their impact on the neighbouring woodland.

Councillor Rosemary Bruce said that, while some of the concerns of local people had been addressed, there were issues still with the access road. It had bends on it that could prove dangerous if drivers were to go around them at speed.

With regard to the second application, for a single house and garage near The Creamery, the planners' report said that the site involved was currently plantation woodland, planted in 1920. It was largely Noble fir but with an area of Scots pine and a tree survey indicated that the Noble fir was infected with a fungus and their long-term stability was in doubt. The survey recommended that all trees on the site, within a 27m tree-falling distance of the proposed house, be felled.

There were three letters regarding the proposals. They raised concerns about issues such as the woods being a valuable habitat for a variety of wildlife; difficult access to the site; the access road not being designed for heavy traffic; and the nearby woodland becoming the site of ongoing development. However, the planners took the view that the proposals would form "an appropriate addition" to a nearby group of houses and they believed that the site could be developed without adversely affecting the integrity of the woodland, or the wildlife in it. They again recommended that authority to grant final permission be delegated to the Director of Planning and Environmental Services, subject to conditions, including a tree management scheme.

Councillor Bruce again raised road safety issues and Councillor Jill Webster said that she could "not see anything other than a delegated grant" although she was not comfortable about that, saying that they had previously turned down another application for a house in the same area.