Oct 132017

With thanks to Martin Ford.

Two planning enforcement notices have been served by Aberdeenshire Council on Avant Homes in respect of the former Kingseat Hospital development near Newmachar.
The action by the Council’s planning service follows a report on Kingseat, instigated by East Garioch councillor Martin Ford, that went to the Garioch Area Committee in June.

Cllr Ford has welcomed the decision to serve enforcement notices. He said:

“I am very pleased by the response from the Council’s planning service to the Member Promoted Issue report on Kingseat discussed at the Garioch Area Committee in June. Actions are now being taken that will put real pressure on the main site owner to complete at least some of the outstanding planning requirements.”

The planning enforcement notices served relate to the storage of spoil and materials and failure to install a play park, required from the developers as part of the overall Kingseat planning permission. The developer has 12 weeks from 20 October to clear the spoil storage area and create a new open space including play equipment.

If the developer wishes to appeal the enforcement notices, it must do so by 19 October.

Cllr Martin Ford said:

“Under the Councillors’ Code of Conduct, councillors are not allowed to press for particular planning enforcement actions. Such decisions are for officers in the planning service. The decisions officers have now taken regarding Kingseat have my wholehearted support.

“I do think Aberdeenshire Council was far too passive for far too long in dealing with the stalled development at Kingseat. Of course, the Council cannot simply order the developers to complete the whole development, it doesn’t have that power. But the Council can proactively pursue obligations the developers have under the legal agreements associated with planning permissions, and take enforcement action over non-compliance with those permissions.

“There is clearly now a new determination to use the powers the Council does have to try to force the main site owner to undertake further work stipulated by the permissions granted and agreements signed. That has got to be very welcome.”

Aberdeenshire Council hopes Avant Homes will comply with the enforcement notices. In the event of non-compliance, officers in the Council’s planning service will decide what action to take. This could include the Council undertaking the work required and recovering costs from Avant Homes and reporting Avant Homes to the procurator fiscal for non-compliance.

The Council is also reviewing other options for action to get work progressed at Kingseat, including Avant Homes’ obligations under Section 75 legal agreements.

In order to preserve the historically important former hospital site, Aberdeenshire Council granted planning permission for a mixed use development at Kingseat in December 2004. The first new homes at Kingseat were completed on 21 February 2006 – so some residents have now been living in an unfinished development for over eleven years. The lack of a play park is just one very obvious failure by the main site developer.

The Council’s long-standing policy on preserving the historic buildings at Kingseat is reflected in the agreed development brief for the site.

Cllr Martin Ford said:

“The goal has to be to get the whole development finished and see the fine buildings that are currently derelict brought back into use.”

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Oct 082015

RoofGardenAdamWith thanks to Phil Moar, Citrus Mix.

Hosted by Bon Accord & St Nicholas, the family fun day was the first event to be held in the enhanced space and saw attendees enjoy a day of music, food and activities to mark the garden’s completion in style.

At the heart of the garden is now a children’s play area, which was made possible thanks to funding from city-based charity Aberdeen Forward.

The playground is now the focal point of the greenspace, with improved seating, lighting and flower provision also helping to breathe new life into the area.

Members of the charity, alongside representatives from Bon Accord & St Nicholas and Aberdeen Inspired as well as the Lord Provost of Aberdeen George Adam were present to open the play area as it welcomed its first children.

The attraction’s new name was also unveiled, with Glashieburn’s P4 pupil William Stewart’s suggestion of ‘The Silver City Playground’, coming out top in a competition that saw nearly 50 entries submitted from schools throughout Aberdeen.

Guests were treated to a performance and workshop from the Guarana Street Drummers and were also able to take part in a number of activities provided by craft group Busy Beasties.

The event also welcomed special guests in the shape of owls Eral and Hedwig, stars of the recent Harry Potter films, thanks to Aberdeenshire-based Owl and Pussy Cat Centre. Cupcakes and samples from YO! Sushi and Ed’s Easy Diner were also available on the day.

Craig Stevenson, manager of Bon Accord & St Nicholas, said:

“Saturday’s fun day really helped shine a spotlight on some of the new features of the roof garden and it was great to see so many happy faces join us for the celebration.

“The play area has already proved in its first day that it will be a great addition to the space, providing an outdoor area for children within the city centre; something that this part of Aberdeen simply didn’t have before.

“The hard work and dedication shown by all the partners within this project is commendable and we’re pleased that initial feedback on the garden has been positive. Aberdeen now has an enhanced event space right at the heart of its city centre and we look forward to welcoming people to the garden throughout the months to come.”

Kath Deans, landfill community fund officer at Aberdeen Forward/CFINE, said:

“We were thrilled to be involved with the roof garden project and I hope the play area is enjoyed by children for many years to come.

“This was an important project for Aberdeen Forward, which is currently in the process of merging with CFINE. It’s our aim to find worthwhile projects that will benefit from funding sourced through landfill community tax and to have this new play area at the heart of the city is a major positive for Aberdeen.”

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Oct 182012

Steve Bothwell tells Aberdeen Voice about an exciting initiative about to be realised.

All the while  campaign group Common Good Aberdeen  were lobbying  hard in the fight to save and enhance Union Terrace Gardens, they were organising and running events in the city centre park such as the Christmas party and children’s art competition and Jubilee Tea Party.

They have continued to liaise with Aberdeen City Council  officials and councillors, progressing  a number of initiatives which will soon bear fruit.

Common Good Aberdeen are over the moon having achieved their goal of raising £15,000, in less than a week, to install play equipment in Union Terrace Gardens.  

Fund Raiser Steve Bothwell said:-

“‘I am truly heartened by the generosity of people who have dug deep to assist in this wonderful cause.  There is lots of information that inform us of the importance of health, well being, happiness and interaction for children.

“Common Good Aberdeen listened intently to people who inform us of their wish list and what they consider to be beneficial to them and what they would like to see in Union Terrace Gardens.

“There are 4 main things: A café, disability access, toilets and play park facilities.  Common Good Aberdeen has already set the ball rolling on all four  initiatives.  We have already secured planning permission for the Co Operative Café and await the tendering process. Once the Café is open, we have over 60 people registered to volunteer with all proceeds going directly into a garden fund for improvements.

“The play park will appeal to so many families and therefore increase the footfall in the gardens, thus providing more customers for the Café.  When the fund increases, we will then hopefully instigate a ‘Disability eco path’ that will allow wheelchair users unassisted access into the gardens.

“When all of these initiatives are started, Common Good Aberdeen will then concentrate on purchasing a high quality automated toilet to ensure the public have an essential facility and use the gardens more.

“Providing there is enough money in the fund to deliver the above initiatives Common Good Aberdeen will begin planning events for the public to enjoy for free.

“We believe these initiatives are truly embracing for all the public and we are looking forward to their fruition.”

Further information, donations:  commongoodaberdeen@groups.facebook.com

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Jul 262012

By Bob Smith. 

I dinna myn a bittie rain
It fresh’ns aathing up
A haill month’s rain in a day
Fyles noo is bein dumped

Watter rins doon the streets
Drains canna tak the strain
Ony mair sic wachty shooers
Watter’s gurglin back oot again

Flooers are lookin drookit
Heids low wi the wecht
Wi aa the watter fae the sky
The bird bath sees nae fecht

Birdies look a bit bedraiglt
They’re hidin in the trees
Waitin for the sun tae shine
An feathers dry in the breeze

Fin the sun braks throwe again
An stame rises fae the grun
Kids’ll splash throwe the puddles
They’ll be haein lots o fun

Nae doot the morn wull be fine
Birds aa wull tweet and trill
Next wikk o coorse it’ll be pissin doon
O rain maist fowk hiv hid their fill

©Bob Smith “The Poetry Mannie” 2012
 Image Credit: SKY MOUNTAIN 1 © Alexandru Mitrea | Dreamstime.com