Scottish Government accused of overriding local democracy following controversial Newtonhill homes decision

The Scottish Government has been accused of “riding roughshod” over local democracy after it overturned plans for 121 new homes in an Aberdeenshire village that were thrown out by the council.

Barrat Homes North Scotland’s proposals for the expansive development at the south of Newtonhill were rejected by the Kincardine and Mearns area committee in November, due to concerns about impact on local schools, the landscape of the area and access.

The scheme, which included 109 houses and 12 flats, also garnered 651 letters of objection, and the council committee believed the plans breached both national and local planning policies.

However, the firm appealed against the decision to the Scottish Government.

Reporter R.W Maslin said the “proposed development accords with the development plan”, and there is “no material consideration that would justify refusal of planning permission”.

The reporter also stipulated that Barratt would have to agree to 22 different conditions, which have been submitted by the council.

North-East MSP Liam Kerr has now written to Housing Minister Kevin Stewart to express his concerns that local democracy is being disregarded.

In his letter, Mr Kerr said:

“The community is outraged at this and disillusioned.

“They campaigned hard to present an accurate account of the state of the village, and gathered 651 objections which entirely satisfied the local councillors that 121 houses in the village should not receive planning permission.

“Once again, the Scottish Government is riding roughshod over the views of local people and local councillors.

“We should be granting more power – not less – to communities over what happens in their area.”

A spokeswoman for the Scottish Government said:

“Scottish Ministers are committed to seeing the right developments in the right place.

“The reporter fully considered all the evidence submitted by the planning authority, the appellant and other parties who made representations in relation to the proposed development.”

She added conditions would be attached to the consent, with developer contributions sought for community, sports and facilities, as well as affordable housing.

A spokesman for Barratt Homes North Scotland declined to comment.