Kingswells Community Council Comments on Countesswells New Community September 2012
Kingswells Community Council (KCC) welcomes the positive and constructive tone of the discussions we have had to date with the development team. We will be happy to go on offering advice to the team based on our considerable experience and in-depth knowledge of living in Kingswells. Careful planning will be necessary to ensure that Kingswells and Countesswells, whilst remaining as separate communities, can operate effectively together in a spirit of harmony and collaboration.
Future traffic levels are a major concern for us. There is already severe congestion at peak times on all the roads feeding into Kingswells roundabout. Recent business developments in Westhill have already added to this congestion and there will be further major impacts stemming from the Prime 4 business park at Kingswells, from future business developments at Dyce and major new housing developments on the west side of Aberdeen generally. It is very unclear at present how the roads infrastructure will be able to cope with all this additional traffic, even when we factor in construction of the AWPR. Prioritising arrangements for sustainable transport will be crucial in helping to offset very serious traffic build-up in the whole area.
Kingswells Community Council request that the new schools would be of modular design so in future, they can expand or retract according to the needs and demographics of the community.
We have concerns that the three primary schools first discussed by the developers, have now reduced to two. We are also concerned about the apparent difference in opinion between the developer and ACC officials regarding the best Primary School size. Leading ACC Officials prefer smaller schools whereas developers prefer larger school sizes.
Rezoning of School Catchment Areas
Due to recent and future planned house building in Kingswells, Kingswells Primary School (already a very large primary school) will be overcapacity as from 2014. To avoid any further compromising of quality of education, it would not be appropriate to zone any children from Countesswells to Kingswells Primary even on a temporary basis.
Prior to the first primary school being built at Countesswellls, the initial children moving in could be accommodated at the under capacity schools at Airyhall and St Josephs.
If future secondary school provision for Kingswells pupils is to be at Countesswells the access to the school should be considered. A safe crossing would be required across the A944 with suitable cycle tracks and foot path to schools. This could be provided as part of the development.
Amenity and environmental issues
Because Countesswells is a high-amenity area widely used for outdoor leisure activities the overall aesthetic appearance of the development will be crucial. We certainly don’t wish to see another planning disaster like the Gladedale housing development next to Cairnie Woods in Westhill with its tightly-packed houses and minimal open space.
The Countesswells Woods should not be compromised by the development. A green space is required around the boundary to allow the woods to be enjoyed without noise from nearby homes detracting from the rural atmosphere.
There is considerable scope for developers to improve the biodiversity of the site and provide a model of good practice. New plantings of native trees, shrubs and wildflower areas will be important in achieving this. So too will be the preservation of existing marshland areas and the provision of SUDS features which actually encourage new wildlife. We welcome the suggestion that the tree-lined Countesswells Road should be conserved as a dedicated pedestrian/cycle access to the development.
Experience at Kingswells shows that homes should not be built too close to trees. At the surrounding forest edges there will be problems with shade and potentially serious accidents during storms. In Kingswells, some areas of woodland abutting housing have become dumping grounds for garden and building waste. Sufficient buffer zones will need to be included to minimize disturbance to red squirrels and other wildlife in the forest areas.
Open spaces have been planned under much of the overhead cables. The cables compromise the quality of open space as they have dictated where the open space will be and urbanises the area.
The cables will pass over the Secondary School playing field and spoil the view of many homes. It is disappointing that the cables are not to go underground.
The notion of developing the area as a ‘destination place’ is a worthy planning objective, but it cannot be the only design concept. There is a need for the wider community to be provided with efficient access through or around this development site and this should be provided in addition to the above objective.
Kingswells is subject to rat-running when the perimeter road is congested. Rat-runners speed through Kingswells, in order to achieve their objective – to pass through the area as quickly as possible. For Countesswells to consider development without a route where traffic can efficiently pass around the development would be reckless and irresponsible.
The plan should be altered to incorporate an efficient road network that meets the needs of both the local and wider community. The local community don’t want traffic passing through, and the wider community who need to access locations out with Countesswells want efficient access without disrupting the local community.
The above statement is fine for the local community, but it does not consider the needs of the wider community. The AWPR will not solve all the traffic issues in the area, and there will still be a requirement for efficient passage around Countesswells without the need to pass through the development.
The proposals for Kirk Brae should meet the requirements of both the local and wider community. It would appear that the current plan is to have the main access through the development as part of the primary street network. This will not satisfy anyone. One of the main attractions of living in a rural area is tranquility. Living on a primary street will not provide these objectives. See the following section on streets for further discussion.
The primary streets appear to form the main access through the development, but the density of housing seems too high to achive a safe development. Streets that form main access routes or are on a bus route should have housing set back from the road like on the Lang Stracht or the main roads through Kingswell, Sheddocksley, Garthdee and many other areas in Aberdeen. Residents of the new development should be able to allow their children to play safely in the streets outside their homes.
It is clear that the intention is to use housing and streets to control the speed of traffic. This is good practice and is acceptable for Secondary, Tertiary and Minor streets. It is idealistic for Primary streets. The planners should not put lives at risk when it can so easily be designed out of the development.
The phasing should be more precisely define when the schools will be provided. This should be expressed in terms of the number of homes built before the schooling will be provided. The second primary school should be provided by the end of Phase 2 – not at the end of Phase 3.
The red line outline on the following plan is much too loose around the link roads to the north connecting to the A944. When the road layout is known the boundary should be changed accordingly. These roads should not be considered as a future development corridor.
At the public consultation on Thursday 6th September, members of the public were invited to stick a pin on a map to indicate where they would like to buy a house at Countesswells. KCC feel this is not an appropriate or a valuable contribution at this stage of the planning process – especially when the public who were present were getting very frustrated and angry at the lack of detail on roads and junctions.
At the Countesswells Consortium Meeting on the 29th August, we were invited to discuss the following agenda. “The key purpose of this meeting will be to look at traffic issues and we will have our consultants, Fairhurst, in attendance”. No actual detail of roads /junctions were actually discussed at this meeting, However, we were asked “what type of shops we would like.” As a community Council we feel we can contribute more valuable local expertise and input into the masterplan, rather than just being asked about something which is driven purely by commercial demand.
Kingswells Community Council Comments on (538.3 KiB)
Comments on the plans presented at the September consultation