Kingsford Stadium Pre-determination Hearing
The presentation to councillors by Kingswells Community Council is shown below.
|I am Ian Cox, Secretary of Kingswells Community Council. Thank you for allowing me to speak today.
We understand the following views are shared by the people in Kingswells who raised concerns with the planning application.
We acknowledge that a proportion of residents in Kingswells are in support of the application.
We recognise the need for the Club to get new facilities. We also recognise the good work of the Community Trust and that there are benefits to having facilities on our doorstep.
The club have not properly considered alternative sites. Insistence on co-location has resulted in one outcome, the selection of the Kingsford site. It is questionable that the financial benefits to the club can justify the need for you to disregard so many planning policies.
The football stadium will provide the same benefits to the north east wherever it is built. There is nothing special about the Kingsford site except the ability to co‑locate the two components of the development.
The community facilities are for the north east. If they were located on another site closer to the people who will benefit most; they would still be available to local communities, albeit a car ride away.
We have worked well with developers on Prime Four and the Countesswells masterplans. We are not a bunch of NIMBYs.
As a result of our work with the Drum Group on Prime Four all the suitable greenbelt along the A944 has been used. The development site is the last piece of greenbelt between Kingswells and Westhill, and consequently is especially important.
This area of greenbelt prevents coalescence of two communities who want to maintain their own identities, and avoid ribbon development along the A944. The development site uses up most of the greenbelt, and the remaining area would be ineffective in achieving its primary purposes.
The club is imposing itself upon 5,000 residents in Kingswells and 12,000 in Westhill who knew nothing about a stadium before moving to a semi-rural location. This does not apply to the two locations identified in the Development Plan.
The population of the area will more than double on match days.
The ultimate price will be paid by those Kingswells residents living in close proximity to the site.
Some of the outstanding issues include:
Making the A944 narrower to accommodate a wider footpath compromises the existing roads, and only addresses part of the problem associated with walking along the A944.
Fans walking in town often wander from the pavement onto the adjacent road. Doing this alongside the busy A944 is very dangerous.
Having to make compromises is an indication that Kingsford is simply the wrong site.
There would be no need for the reduction in road width, if the central reserve was utilised. Railings would be required to ensure match day safety.
The area around Kingsford lacks the extensive CCTV coverage used to monitor crowds around Pittodrie.
This is a club that will realise most of the perceived benefits to the northeast, but appears to want others to put up with the inconvenience, or to pay for the mitigation required to make their development more acceptable to the community.
The latest changes to the TA have identified the need for an over bridge. This is not the best solution. The stairs will be hazardous to crowds of fans. A push or a stumble could have serious consequences. The visual impact is significant, and cannot be mitigated. Whether fans would queue to use the bridge, or simply cross the road must be in question. The best solution for this location is an underpass that is gated outside match times.
The whole TA is justified by showing that traffic from the stadium will be no worse than at peak times. It is assumed that Prime 4 will pay for mitigating the effects of peak time travel. All work has now stopped on Prime 4, and the provision of the mitigation measures for the stadium must be in doubt. Without mitigation, some parts of the AWPR roundabout will operate at 3 times capacity. This is not accounted for in the TA.
The stadium with its red and grey stripes is the second pass at making the building more appealing, but still has a significant visual impact which is worse when the structure is lit. It destroys the sense of place.
Part of the justification for new training facilities is the lack of a covered training area, but this is not included in this application. Adding single storey buildings to cover professional and community pitches would certainly change the green images shown in the PR videos. Will the fan zone also need a roof?
The Fan Zone will generate noise that is not mitigated and will be heard over a significant distance. This can be demonstrated by previous events held adjacent to this area.
The club claim that the adverse impact of the stadium will only occur around 22 times a year, but that does not apply to: the visual impact and the loss of a sense of place, the impact from additional traffic control on the A944, and the impact of narrowing a busy route into the city centre. These affects will be imposed permanently.
The use of green belt land is often justified by using the economic benefit to the area. As the club will be the main beneficiary of any economic benefit, this will be difficult to justify in this case.
The success of this development is dependent on shuttle buses running at full capacity and at frequent intervals, including many passengers standing. This is not a sustainable assumption.
The development requires substantial support by Police Scotland. This will be provided on a priority basis, so is not guaranteed.
There are still too many issues that have not been addressed. It is difficult to see how this application can be approved in its present form.
Please ignore all the hype, and external pressures that have been applied. Decide this application based on planning terms. There are too many breeches in planning policy, and the consequences of ignoring them may set precedence in the future. The effects cannot be mitigated. Please refuse planning permission.
If you are minded to approve the application, then there are still a host of issues that need to be mitigated. The club as the main beneficiary should pay for all of these. You should include extensive conditions on any approval.