Aquithie Road Excavations
Provided By Bob Thomson, Planning Enforcement Officer
I took down the Temporary Stop Notices on Friday evening, because the contractors were due on site again on the Monday
I was back at the site earlier this afternoon to check on their progress. I spoke to the plant operator, who explained what he was doing in terms of tidying and providing the contours. I am satisfied he has an adequate brief and that the intended works will all improve the appearance of the site. He will be finished this afternoon.
When I was standing in the middle of the site it is very obvious that it is far from flat. The uniform colour makes it look more so from the periphery. The front part should be seeded next week and the fence on the Bremner Way side replaced next week also. The existing plant and root matter in the rest, as well as the season should see the rest green up fairly quickly.
Following the issue of the Temporary Stop Notice last Friday (17 April), I have subsequently been in discussions with a representative for the landowners. They have provided assurance that at this time they do not intend any development on this site.
I have agreed with them that Plant will be allowed onto the site to carryout remedial works relative to the current condition of the site. This will amount to re-grading the existing soil mounds and cuts across the site to provide a more natural looking contour. A 10 metre strip parallel with Aquithie Road will also be seeded with a wild meadow seed mixture which should provide both grass and a colourful floral display at this gateway site, but require little or no maintenance thereafter.
These works are to take place on Monday 27 April 2015, and are anticipated to take approximately one day to complete.
I was advised directly from the agent in Edinburgh that manages their land and developments that there was no intention to do anything other than improve the appearance of the site which hasn’t sold, despite being on the market for some time. They state that stripping back vegetation was to open up the site so people could get a better idea about it. It is claimed that anything beyond that has been a loss in translation and people (including the contractors) making various assumptions and overdoing what was required.
To transform this site into the storage yard described would require planning permission for the engineering works to level the ground, the formation of hard standing, the erection of fence and gates, as well as the change of use to industrial/storage. I think it would be very unlikely that this could ever be approved in that location.
The draft 2016 Local Development Plan (currently in the consultation phase) suggests that the front part of this site may be suitable for a small housing development if not developed for recreational use before then, with a buffer zone between the school to the west and the Arnold Clark site to the north.
The re-grading to be carried out is because I assessed that the amount of earth moving amounted to what could be considered engineering which is why I served the Temp Stop Notice. The subsequent negotiations with the Agent was to rectify what could potentially be considered a breach of planning control. The best way to do this is to basically smooth out the soil piles etc so they don’t look like artificially created piles, as they do now.
It was also me that suggested seeding with a wild meadow mix to promote a quick return to a natural look which would achieve both their and the community’s desire to see an attractive site. Any ground behind the front 10m strip will be left to return to nature on its own, which should be quick enough at this time of year. The part at the front was most deeply scraped.
Ultimately, the end result after a few weeks of (re)growth should be something of better appearance than was there before.
Please share this with any Kemnay community contacts you have. This should allow the activities to improve the site to take place with the minimum of disruption and community concern.
Planning Enforcement Officer
Around lunchtime on Thursday 16 April a member of the public contacted Kemnay Community Council through the website to report aparant unauthorised engineering works on the site on the corner of Bremner Way and Aquithie Road. A member of the Community Council attended immediately and was advised by the contractors that the purpose of the works was to level the site and fence it off in preparation for use as a car storage area for John Martin Group. The site is presently designated for Amenity use in the Local Development Plan 2012 and also in the present Draft (replacement) Development Plan. Community Councillors considered that a planning application for Change of Use would be required before the site could be developed and used for vehicle storage so contacted our Local Aberdeenshire Councillors along with Head of Planning and Building Standards to inform them about the apparent unauthorised engineering works. Our Aberdeenshire Councillors acted swiftly as did Aberdeenshire Council and Planning Enforcement Officers were soon on the scene to ascertain the nature of the engineering works.
Following receipt of the complaint the site was visited on Thursday afternoon (16/04/15), by a member of the local planning team and subsequently Friday (17/04/15), by representatives of the Planning Enforcement Team. Investigations have established that engineering works were taking place on the site which, without any evidence to establish otherwise, would be considered to be development for which planning permission should be required. Enforcement Officers discussed the matter with workmen on site, it was anticipated that the landowner, John Martin, was to visit the site in the afternoon. It was therefore requested that they (the workmen) ask the landowner to contact the Planning Enforcement Team to discuss the proposed development and clarify the facts, at this time (17/04/15), no contact has been made by the landowner with the Planning Enforcement Team; however, Planning Agents representing the landowner have since contacted the Planning Enforcement Team and are assisting with investigations.
It was therefore decided that a Temporary Stop Notice should be served on the site this afternoon (17/04/15), to prevent any harm to the environment or the amenity of the area. The Temporary Stop Notice shall remain in effect from 4pm on Friday 17 April 2015 for a period of 28 days unless Enforcement Officers consider it appropriate to withdraw the notice. The purpose of this notice is to allow the Planning Service additional time to investigate the matter and determine the appropriate course of action, such as requesting a retrospective planning application or indeed additional enforcement action. However, there is a possibility that, following further investigation, the works carried out may not be considered as development and as such no breach of planning control would have occurred.
It should be noted that the carrying out of any works in breach of planning control is not in itself an offence. An offence would only be committed under the terms of the Town & Country Planning (Scotland) Act 1997, when the requirements of a notice such as a Temporary Stop Notice or Planning Enforcement Notice, are not complied with. It should be noted that although the site maybe identified as a protected site within the Local Plan, this in itself does not provide any additional protection upon the land under the Planning Act and as such permitted development rights are not removed.