There’s a warning that schools, roads and health facilities will be “overwhelmed” if plans for more than 100 homes in Aberdeen’s west end are given the go ahead.
Community leaders urged councillors to send Malcolm Allan Housebuilders back to the drawing board on two key sites in Craigiebuckler.
And the future of former Hilton Treetops land – and the proposals for affordable housing in Braeside Place which will allow it to go ahead – hang in the balance.
Aberdeen’s affordable planning committee spent nearly two hours on Thursday, dissecting the plans for 30 houses on the site of the former Braeside School.
But they did not make a decision, opting instead to visit both sites the next week before a vote.
Without the Braeside homes being constructed for the Grampian Housing Association, Malcolm Allan Housebuilders will be unable to proceed with its 77 properties at the Treetops site.
The Springfield Road hotel was leveled in late 2020 after closing abruptly at the start of that year.
Both schemes have been backed by city planners, despite garnering more than 200 objections from locals.
Braeside School housing plans – and linked Treetops homes – will ‘completely overwhelm’ Craigiebuckler
Residents spoke out against the Braeside development at a meeting on Thursday.
Braeside and Mannofield Community Council chairman Keith Pirie claimed the 116 people planned to live in the affordable homes would “completely overwhelm” local services.
The required affordable housing was initially planned as flats on the Treetops site.
But it transpired that housing associations require larger homes for their stock.
Unable to fit them in at Springfield Road, Malcolm Allan Housebuilders looked to Braeside Place instead.
Mr Pirie claimed the nearby Great Western Medical Practice had recently survived a “crisis”, amid struggles to find GPs.
The proposed £42,000 developer contribution to expand the building would do little to help hire more people, he argued.
Mr Pirie suggested between 15 or 20 homes on the “eyesore” site would be acceptable, while the current plans – along with those for the Treetops – were “overdevelopment”.
Braeside and Treetop development objections ‘not nimbism’
When the plans were adapted to include the former Braeside primary, dozens of objections were lodged.
Among them one west end resident railed against the social housing, claiming the area was “no place for families in poverty”.
But Mr. Pirie wrote those comments off as two or three out of the 104 received.
“The local press suggested that this community was up in arms about social housing coming in. Nothing could be further from the truth,” he assured councillors.
“This is not about social housing. It is not this nimbly issue that is talked about. Affordable housing is needed.
“But this is about the number of people and that the infrastructure cannot bear it.”
Ahead of the crunch meeting, planners briefed that “there is no reason that social and mainstream housing cannot sit alongside one another”.
‘It doesn’t reflect reality’: Treetops and Braeside housing plans judged against out-of-date school roll figures
There was also concern when council services manager Andrew Jones accepted the school roll forecasts used to calculate the impact of both schemes was more than five years old.
Chairman of Airyhall Parent Council Michael Crawford claimed the council had “underestimated the real-world impact” on the school roll.
He also criticized the decision not to add an extra school crossing in nearby Craigton Road.
“The numerous objections from parents have not been adequately addressed,” he said.
“This year school placements for Airyhall are being declined and parents are having to appeal.
“The 30 houses proposed have the requirement for two children per house so simplistically that is an additional class at Airyhall School and Hazlehead Academy.
“It doesn’t reflect reality.”
Planners recommending approval stated Airyhall School would not be overcapacity with the 30 new homes or the 77 planned at the Treetops.
But money would be needed to expand Hazlehead Academy.
Other objectors speaking included stretched community workers, residents concerned the new homes would be too close to their properties and even council co-leader Ian Yuill.
Another Lib Dem, local councilor Martin Greig was poised to speak on the Treetops proposals – though that debate never happened.
Another week of waiting for a decision and a real Town House din
Having waited years for a say on the contested plans, objectors were forced to hold on for another 20 minutes.
Already there had been an extra week of waiting for Thursday’s meeting after the bungling planners did not tell the community councils of changes to the plans.
When it arrived, democracy was briefly drowned out by eager workers loudly sawing or drilling away on the roof of the Town House.
Apologetic planning convener Dell Henrickson urged speakers to “bear with us” and “speak up”.
“I’m not sure what we can do,” he added.
Others screamed the noise was “not acceptable”. Or they shook their heads and pointed to their ears to indicate they couldn’t follow the proceedings.
The meeting reconvened around 20 minutes later after the workers had been told to down tools.
But still there was no decision. A vote will be taken on the Braeside plans after the site visit next Thursday.
In order to even discuss the Treetops proposals that same day, the affordable housing at the former primary school must be approved.
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[Housing plans for Hilton Treetops site hang in the balance]