Castle Park Planning Application

I am glad that Aberdeenshire has decided to approve this scheme,  We all agreed that the process of involvement with the town via the Enquiry by Design was an exemplar that we would urge other developers to seek to emulate.  The idea of high density, high quality, walk-able neighbourhoods, where the public realm focuses on people rather than cars, has become common currency in planning and development circles but as yet there are no large scale examples in Scotland.   

So I am pleased that we now have in the pipeline a development at the new higher densities and high quality of design that were called for by the then Planning Minister Sam Galbraith a decade ago.   He asked "Where are the conservation areas of the future?" and I hope that with this bold step Ellon has answered with a very loud "here".

Process concern

But I am also concerned that the move to determining major planning applications (more than 50 houses or 2 hectares) by all 68 councillors is problematic.  Until today, we had only uncontentious applications at full Council and that introduced an unnecessary delay into the process.    But when an application turns out to be contentious, as this one was,  some people will feel aggrieved that councillors from far flung parts of Aberdeenshire have decided the fate of this application.   Six members of the Formartine Area Committee voted to refuse:  Five voted to Grant: a narrow majority in favour of refusal.  But the local decision was outweighed by the decision of the Full Council.  I can understand if objectors to the proposal feel aggrieved.

As I am getting some stick here, can I just mention that members of the Formartine Committee (Ellon ones in bold) split

Grant: Cllrs Duncan, Hendry, Johnston, Merson, Storr.
Refuse: Davidson, Gifford, Loveday, Norrie, Owen, Robertson.


  1. I am extremely disappointed that you and four other members of the FAC voted to approve this scheme in the face of such a significant level of local objections.

    I personally feel that this is a completely inappropriate development for Ellon at this time. I also doubt whether the white elephant that is the castle gardens will ever open to the public. If indeed it does this will surely see the loss of yet more green space at the Deer Park to house supporting development - car parking, visitors centre, cafe, shops, hotel, etc. Where are the town's children to play football etc?

    I feel sure that many people will remember your actions when the next council elections come around and will act accordingly.

    I'm sure you know best though...

  2. Really disappointed with this result a kick in the teeth to the Ellon people who were majority against this development.

  3. Another non Ellon resident voted against the people of ellon. Enjoy the little time have left in office as you have lost my vote and many others.

  4. My family and I are deeply saddened and disappointed with you the local councillors of our ward on this debacle, we feel totally let down and that we have been absolutely misrepresented. We are also very disappointed that you feel it is necessary to mention that you are happy to answer question but not from one individual!!! Is this not the case simply of someone who has been passionate about something they believe in and have acted as a voice for the community?. In the UK, we have freedom of speech and you as a councillor should be prepared for a few people to be free speaking and negative about something they do not believe is best for the area. We are sure you know one or two who didn’t want a quarry near Balmedie?

    We also feel for all those against this development, who went through the correct official channels and lodged objection with planning and then attended the community council meeting and other meetings to put there objections and feeling clearly on the table to find that basically they have all been ignored, when there were so few who actually agreed with the development from the outset. As if that was not enough, we also find that this completely contradicts and goes against the development plan for Ellon & in particular the total amount of homes classed as being able to fit in those two fields. Oh and was there not planning rejected for having a lot less houses in this area, another thing which was forgotten about.

    Does this no set precedence for other developers and actually send out the wrong message. If nothing else it just shows that things do happen even when everyone says its wrong.

    To conclude, can I pick you up on you quote “where the public realm focuses on people rather than cars”, I must have missed that, I have seen some strategic areas to park your cars, but I cannot remember where the public can go to park, to sit in their new park, the play areas where the children can play games, a community area with swings, a community hall or house, etc similar to the one gifted by Barratt for building all the homes in Castle Park? All of which is within this new development to show that the focus is on people. Mmmm

  5. Debra
    Why can you say this application is a conservation area of the future when in fact you have voted to put a Carbuncle right in the heart of Ellon not only creating a massive visual impact and destroying the environment for the wildlife by creating a new through route into the centre of Ellon removing huge areas of woodland. This does not even consider our lack of existing infastructure where at the moment we have to wait for 4 Weeks for a doctors appointment, what will it be like in a couple of years time with all the influx of people into the area?

    As a matter of interest will the planning gain be a new Surgery.

  6. I know this is controversial and I understand people being upset. But I do ask for a little perspective.

    To respond to some specific questions.

    Deer park I do not know of any intention to develop this area and recognise its value as green space.

    Castle Gardens Without the revenue stream from the rental of 9 houses, I agree this would be infeasible. But with a base revenue stream, the restoration of the gardens and their opening as an attraction is viable. I have been in the gardens and they could be a fantastic resource for the town if they were opened up.

    Carbuncle I simply don't agree and indeed there was no criticism of the design today.

    There is no contribution from this development towards health facilities. This is not because no need is recognised but it is simply beyond current policy for what is asked for in terms of planning gain. The expectation is that health facilities, police, fire, and a whole host of other things will be paid for out of general taxation. However Dr Gore indicated today that this situation is likely to change with contributions for health facilities being sought after approval of the next local plan.

    Quarry I'm not sure what this comment is about. The rejection of the quarry at Orrock was a unanimous decision of the committee: I just happened to be the proposer of the motion and therefore spent a week or more of my time, defending (successfully) this decision.

    I do not accept contributions from one individual as I am bored with his simple abuse. If he wishes to have his say about me he can pay for his own website.

  7. Debra

    I am surprised that you are not aware of any intention to develop within Deer Park as there were indicative sketches of this area if one looked closely at the drawings shown at the Developers consultation meetings.

    No concrete plans as such but an intent? Without doubt.

    How did you imagine that the floods of visitors that are going to flock to this magnificent tourist attraction are going to be catered for. "Come to Ellon and visit our wonderful castle gardens - you just need to park your car miles away and walk down the muddy wee lane beside the health centre... Facilities?, err you could try the school."

    Please let us not be so short sighted. The developers have their eye on the access road and at least half of the green space. Their suggestion was, as I stated previously, for car parking, a visitors centre, a cafe, shops, and a boutique hotel.

    I am surprised that someone so apparently aware of the machinations of the Trump organisation has such a blind spot when it comes to this development and its associated "planning gain".

    I raised the Deer Park issue at several of the meetings and I know you were in attendance on at least one occasion. It makes me wonder if you actually listened to a single word that the concerned Ellon residents said.

  8. You wrote - "the local decision was outweighed by the decision of the Full Council. I can understand if objectors to the proposal feel aggrieved."

    It is good that you recognise that the full council has gone against the wishes of the local committe and people of Ellon. It is also good that you recognise that people are not happy to be told what is good for them. Since the Trump development is also good for the area, we should all perhaps recognise that at a higher level and encourage the local element to also get with the programme.
    The Ellon infrastructure is stressed beyond capacity. Your failure to recognise this fact while realising a revenue stream from rented houses is dissappointing. Separating the costs for the health facilities, police fire service etc as being paid for out of the general taxation is another example, I suppose, of the little people not seeing the bigger picture.

    - you wrote "Ellon has answered with a very loud "here"."

    NO IT DIDN'T - if you bothered to listen.

  9. I bought my house because the location was perfect - next to establish trees and a green I was informed was going to be a play park - ideal for my family. Living VERY close to where the access road is planned and currently enjoying the trees (and wildlife - especially the Red Squirrels that regularly visit my garden) I can't stress how 'gutted' Im feeling with the decision.
    Maybe Im wrong, but if Debra Store lived where we do and faced the consequences of this development that are ahead of us now, would she have voted differently?
    She may be feeling it was the correct decision to make, loyality and taking our views into consideration don't seem to count, because she doesn't live here! but I for one, have absolutely NO intention of giving her my vote come the next elections. What a let down she is!!

  10. Debra
    design basically has nothing to do with visual impact unless you are standing in the middle of it, come back in a couple of years time when looking across Ellon from any southerly aspect all you will see as the song goes is "little boxes on a hillside" and see the "Design" all made out of ticky tack sticking out of the hilside obscuring the natural backdrop we already have, and you then can tell me it is not a carbuncle,( I doubt with all due respect if you have any idea of the level changes proposed are huge increases in the level not just inches but Meters before the houses and blocks of flats go on top) What you have voted for will have a massive change on the VISUAL IMPACT on the town. The infastructure should be brought up todate before adding to the already overstretched facilities, It is obvious despite attending meetings you and fellow councillor Merson have your own agenda's as you both cant listen and wont listen, but remember like many others I can vote and will vote and campaign for those that do listen.

    When did the revenue stream from 9 properties come into the equation was this the carrot?

    If such a famous place as Pitmedden Gardens which does not require re-building is desperately struggling to survive as all the other NTS properties are, what chance has Castle Gardens? Have you seen the business plan?
    Who is paying for the Redevelopment?

  11. The straight application of policy is deferring responsibility for your decision. Some time ago I queried the "wisdom" of the advisory 20mph limits around Ellon. I wanted to know what the costs were, what the accident rates were and what the improvement targets were. I was told that the scheme met with the guidelines set out to qualify for ringfenced funding for this type of scheme. ie no actual justification at all apart from the fact that it met policy. (in truth and on investigation, the figures being used did not actually prove that any improvement was evident beyond 3 month after installation) Back to the point... public opinion IS against this development. I have admittedly come accross some people who don't care one way or the other. However I have not come accross any that were actually in favour.
    People vote for people that they have confidence will accurately represent them. I do not believe that you have represented the opinions and wishes of the very people who may have in the past voted for you.

    I am dissappointed that you are undermine other cllrs and how they voted.

    This is now a done deal. As stated I am not impressed by the actions of some of those that are voted into office, yourself included. Every vote counts and you cannot count on mine, or my partner's, or my neighbours or friends.
    I look forward to voting.

  12. I spent alot of time choosing which town and location I would make my new family home.

    Delighted with what Castlepark had to offer, and its proximity to woodland, space and wildlife I put all our eggs into one basket...

    You have destroyed this with your ridiculous misrepresentation of the people you serve, I have been cheated by you...

    Think about the families you have devastated, and the childrens lives you have seriously upset, and under valued.

    You are a disgrace!

    I now intend to remove myself, my family and my business (including its employment opportunities) away from Ellon.

    Well done, I figure you should enjoy your time in the position now, as it seems it will be coming to an end very soon...

  13. There are a lot of angry comments here. I think that some of the language is excessive : this is a development of houses primarily on fields not the total destruction of an area of great interest to science. I take some comfort from the wide consultation of the total package of development and the many people I know who participated in those consultations and support this development.

    I have made unpopular planning decisions that have turned out well and some of the objectors have had the grace to recognise this. I can only hope that this development turns out better than the objectors expect.

    I shall close comments at this point as nothing new is now being said.