The Cults, Bieldside and Milltimber area of Aberdeen is primarily residential with some 4,700 homes, a number which is steadily rising as new homes in Countesswells, Friarsfield and Oldfold are occupied. The residential areas lie just to the north of the River Dee and are surrounded by farmland and woodland. The area is an attractive place to live because of its proximity to Aberdeen city centre and also its access to the Dee valley. The bulk of the housing in the area consists of detached family homes but there are also semi-detached houses and a number of low-rise blocks of flats in Cults and Countesswells.
Despite most developer proposals for our area being rejected from the Aberdeen City Local Development Plan (ALDP2017), two new sites were added following a decision of the Scottish Government Reporter:
- Milltimber South for 60 houses and a small retail/commercial development.
- Contlaw Road which has now received planning permission for 30 houses.
The current LDP also includes three previously approved major developments for our area:
- Countesswells (south of Kingswells and the A944) – a new town of 3000 homes (detached, semi-detached, terraced and flats) together with primary and secondary schools and commercial properties.
- Friarsfield – 280 homes built in three phases on land bounded by Friarsfield Road and Kirk Brae.
- Oldfold – 550 homes built on land to the east of Binghill Road including a new Milltimber Primary school.
The draft Main Issues Report for the next LDP, to be issued in 2022 (ALDP2022), rejected all 46 proposals for house construction in Lower Deeside, some 31% of the total 146 submissions, and 33 proposals of which were for the CBM area. The CC supported rejection in every case except for the land between the North Deeside Road and Inchgarth Road where a proposal has been made to build retirement-friendly housing and a new link road. If all proposals were accepted there would be another 5400 homes in our area. There were 8 proposals for developments of more than 100 homes, which would sum to 4530 homes. We expect developers to continue to press the case for more housing land to be allocated.
- Preservation of green space – residents in the area particularly enjoy the open spaces close at hand both for their scenic quality and activity opportunities. Steady development risks leading to the formation of a continuous residential area rather than maintaining some form of green space separation between the three communities. The CC believe that a minimum area of greenspace and its location should be defined and protected. See also section 5 on the ‘Natural Environment’.
- Availability of school places. See also section 8 on ‘Education’. Until a better forecast of school place demand and a plan for accommodating a growing population is developed, there should be no more approved new housing developments.
- Type of housing available to buy – houses in the CBM area are predominantly detached properties with gardens although there is a greater mix of smaller semi-detached, terraced and flatted properties in Cults. There have been a number of proposals from developers to build retirement apartments and while there is some demand for these, there is a need for a wider choice of smaller homes and bungalows from people living in the area who wish to downsize and also remain within the community. These should be designed to be “future-proof” as people age. There is also a need for smaller affordable homes to encourage first time buyers and those on a low income who wish to live and work in the area e.g. carers. This would help to refresh the age profile of the community.
- Houses available for rent – there is an active rental market in Aberdeen and historically property in the Cults, Bieldside and Milltimber area has attracted high rents. The recent economic downturn in the oil and gas industry has dampened demand and the availability of rental property is not seen as a major concern.
- Future demand for new houses – the area remains attractive for developers and also new residents to the area – new houses at the Friarsfield and Oldfold sites are selling as are some of the early homes at Countesswells. Demand is likely to remain high given the attractiveness of the area which will lead to growing tension between demand for land and the need to preserve green space and provide improved infrastructure. The Community Council will press for restrictions on new housing developments and has commented robustly on new developer proposals for ALDP2022. There is an obvious danger that over-development would damage the very attractiveness of the area and thus the sales prospects for developers.
- The ability of existing infrastructure to accommodate an increasing population. See also section 3 on ‘Roads and Transport’. Residents of the approved new housing developments in the area will be using the existing main roads and commuter routes, either to get into Aberdeen or access the AWPR.
- Pressure on public services e.g. GPs, pharmacies, dentists. See section 10 on ‘Health and Social Care’.
- Splitting curtilages (feus) – the area has a large number of detached properties, many with large gardens. There has been a trend in recent years to propose the splitting of curtilages for building a new house, or houses, in the grounds of an existing house. While the number of proposals has declined recently it is still an activity that requires careful review by the Community Council to ensure that a proposed curtilage split is appropriate for the size of plot, that the nature of the area is not significantly altered e.g. increased density, reduced amenity and that the build can be completed without disruption to neighbours or to the wider community.
- Demolition and rebuilding – a recent trend is the purchase and subsequent demolition of an older property to allow the building of a new and larger house on the same site. While this offers benefits to the new owner – larger accommodation, more energy efficient property – it is important to ensure that the proposed house respects its neighbourhood and is not too imposing on nearby properties.
There is a need to remember that there are several sides to the debate about new housing development: Aberdeen City Council wishes to see the city population increasing to support and grow the economy, providing funds for the services we all rely upon; developers want to run their businesses and build houses (thus offering good construction jobs); current residents want to ensure their quality of life is maintained or improved and that services and infrastructure are improved in line with population growth – balance and compromise will be needed from all.
Community Council Objectives
To ensure that new development in the area brings benefits to the community and that the pace of development is matched by the required improvement in infrastructure and public services to accommodate the new development.
To ensure that green space is retained and improved and the nature of the community is preserved.
- To continue the current policy and arrangements for monitoring and evaluating all planning applications.
- To press for restrictions on new housing developments.
- Where new developments are supported, request that appropriate infrastructure improvements are included in the plans and press for mixed house types for a diverse community.
- To explore ways of ensuring that new housing developments include an adequate number of affordable houses and smaller houses and bungalows.
- Input will be provided to guide Regional Strategic and Local Development Plans; each developer proposal for ALDP 2022 has been reviewed and commented upon.
Views from the public would be welcome on:
- The points addressed above, particular housing needs and how the Community Council communicates what is happening.
- Which areas of green space should be preserved at all costs and which areas may be suitable for housing development.
If you would like to comment please add them below or click here to open a response sheet file. This will allow you to complete and send your response by email to firstname.lastname@example.org or by post to CBMCC at: 188 North Deeside Road, Milltimber, AB13 0HL.