Two sides line up in Dons sta­dium bat­tle

The Press and Journal (Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire) - - FRONT PAGE -

Com­mu­nity coun­cil rep­re­sen­ta­tives op­posed to the de­vel­op­ment told the packed meet­ing they were not “nim­bies” and were re­flect­ing lo­cal res­i­dents’ views.

Kingswells and Westhill com­mu­nity coun­cils have ob­jected for­mally to the plans, fear­ing a mas­sive in­crease in traf­fic and loss of green belt land. They sent rep­re­sen­ta­tives to speak and an­swer ques­tions to the plan­ning com­mit­tee ahead of their key de­ci­sion.

Au­drey Find­lay, the chair­woman of Westhill and El­rick Com­mu­nity Coun­cil, said: “Green belt pol­icy is very clear in plan­ning doc­u­ments, but it has been swept aside by (the club) in their ap­pli­ca­tion.”

Ian Cox, sec­re­tary of Kingswells Com­mu­nity Coun­cil, added: “We have worked with the con­sul­ta­tion on the Prime Four busi­ness park – we are not ‘nim­bies’. This site is the last piece of green belt that sep­a­rates two com­mu­ni­ties who want to main­tain their own iden­ti­ties.” “Aberdeen have per­formed ex­cel­lently in re­cent years, qual­i­fy­ing for the Europa League qual­i­fy­ing stage. UEFA are al­ways tight­en­ing up reg­u­la­tions. And con­sid­er­ing the pitch pa­ram­e­ters and other is­sues, they could be told to play their games at a cen­tral belt ground if they re­alise their am­bi­tion of qual­i­fy­ing for the Europa League group stage.

“The new sta­dium would be a huge pos­i­tive for Scottish foot­ball. Aberdeen is one of Scottish foot­ball’s most suc­cess­ful clubs. Other clubs have had or are hav­ing ma­jor work done to their grounds. Aberdeen needs to keep pace.” “April 8, 2013, was my first day in the job when I re­alised just how poor our train­ing fa­cil­i­ties are.

“It was a re­minder no other pro­fes­sional club in Scot­land would have trained on a poorer pitch that morn­ing yet we are re­garded as a ma­jor player in Scottish foot­ball. The frus­tra­tion of our sce­nario is clear but it’s also laugh­able.

“If you look at the league ta­ble for fa­cil­i­ties, we are bottom.

“As I see it, the whole of Aberdeen and the north-east re­gion de­serve top-class fa­cil­i­ties.

“If we don’t achieve our goal, oth­ers will leave us in the dis­tance as they go from strength to strength.” “There is a clear and am­bi­tious plan in place with the City Re­gion Deal and the city cen­tre mas­ter­plan.

“We are see­ing the early signs of an eco­nomic up­turn.

“The mo­men­tum we have built must be con­tin­ued.

“No vi­able city cen­tre sites ap­pear to ex­ist. We be­lieve the pro­posal to move out of the city will not have a detri­men­tal ef­fect.

“Get­ting plan­ning per­mis­sion for the sta­dium would just be the first step. We need to show that the city is open for busi­ness.

“The cham­ber be­lieves the foot­ball club is very im­por­tant to the city.”

Mr Cox said: “The foot­ball sta­dium (in Aberdeen) will pro­vide the same ben­e­fits to the city no mat­ter where it is lo­cated in the city.

“We have worked with the con­sul­ta­tion on the Prime Four busi­ness park – we are not ‘nim­bies’.”

Mrs Find­lay said: “It seems that lo­cal peo­ple against this project are sim­ply be­ing dis­missed.

“Green belt pol­icy is very clear in plan­ning doc­u­ments, but it has been swept aside by (the club) in their ap­pli­ca­tion.

“At the end of the day this is a plan­ning ap­pli­ca­tion.” “The sta­dium is not on the lo­cal de­vel­op­ment plan. This has not been taken into con­sid­er­a­tion by the club.

“There are two al­ter­na­tive lo­ca­tions which the club could have cho­sen.

“We know all foot­ball clubs would like their fa­cil­i­ties in one place. But it can’t ac­tively prove that hav­ing that would pro­vide ben­e­fits for the com­mu­nity.

“The pro­posed site is the last piece of green belt land in the area. We do not want to lose it.

“We thank coun­cil­lors for lis­ten­ing to us and hope that you come to the right de­ci­sion. That is that the de­vel­op­ment should not take place.” “The char­ac­ter­is­tics of Pit­to­drie and Kings­ford in re­la­tion to traf­fic are to­tally dif­fer­ent.

“Pit­to­drie is within walk­ing dis­tance for the vast ma­jor­ity of pub­lic trans­port in the city.

“The ma­jor­ity of Westhill and the south­ern part of Kingswells could be con­sid­ered in walk­ing dis­tance to Kings­ford but at present there is no pub­lic trans­port in walk­ing dis­tance.

“There have been con­cerns raised about the num­ber of peo­ple who would be walk­ing to and from the matches.

“Should ei­ther (the pro­posed foot­bridge or con­trolled park­ing zone) be un­de­liv­er­able then our stance would change to one of re­fusal.”

Rus­sell Borth­wick, chief ex­ec­u­tive of Aberdeen & Grampian Cham­ber of Com­merce

An­drew McKin­lay, chief op­er­at­ing of­fi­cer at the Scottish Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tion

Derek McInnes, Aberdeen Foot­ball Club man­ager

Sup­port­ers and ob­jec­tors made their pres­ence felt

Kather­ine Sned­don, of the No To Kings­ford cam­paign group Mark Wilkie, Aberdeen City Coun­cil se­nior roads en­gi­neer

Ian Cox, sec­re­tary of Kingswells Com­mu­nity Coun­cil and Au­drey Find­lay, chair­woman of Westhill and El­rick Com­mu­nity Coun­cil

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