Plans to transform a derelict factory in the heart of Aberdeen into more than 500 flats have been rejected.
Planning officials had given their backing to the proposal to create the “urban village” at Broadford Works, which has been plagued by vandalism and fire in recent years.
But despite Labour support, the First Construction Ltd proposal was rejected by eight votes to four at Thursday’s development management sub committee meeting.
First Construction had proposed creating 517 new homes, almost 50,000 square feet of commercial space, a restaurant, a nursery and 569 parking spaces. Some 342 of the planned flats were to be newly built, with 175 more to be created in restored and converted buildings. The scheme, which was recommended for approval by City Council planning officials, proposed the restoration of 11 of the most architecturally significant buildings on the site.
A majority on the sub-committee expressed their concerns over the lack of affordable housing and community facilities proposed in the scheme and said the number of apartments put forward to be built would have been an over-development of the Maberly Street site.
They also voiced worries over the potential impact on the local road network, the number of historic buildings which had been earmarked for demolition, and a lack of ‘planning gain’ developer contributions for local infrastructure improvements to accommodate the proposed development.
Councillor Bill Cormie said: “Aberdeen is getting nothing out of this. My opinion is this would be an over-developed site and all it will be is a real money-spinner for the applicant. There is very little on offer to the local communities.”
Councillor John Corrall was also opposed to the plans and accused the site's owner, multimillionaire businessman Ian Suttie, of holding the city to ransom.
He said: “I have watched for the last ten years as this site has gone from a working site to one of dereliction. The cynical part of me asks why. I don’t think it is an accident. This developer is holding us to ransom. I can not support this.”
Councillor Marie Boulton said: “We don’t want to set a precedent where we allow developers to run down a site and then approve applications just because we are desperate to get rid of them.”
The committee’s convener, Councillor Ramsay Milne, who supported the motion, said: “I think the Broadford Works has had a sad and sorry history. It is an eyesore in the centre of the city. I’m aware that the site is a danger to children and is frequently targeted by arsonists. I don’t think we can leave this rotting tooth in our city centre any longer.”
But he was unable to persuade members to back the plans.
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