In a letter to Aberdeenshire Council (attached), ScotWays has explained its objections to the additional Trump planning applications on which a decision will be made tomorrow (Tuesday, 1st September).
ScotWays has objected to the development because of its continuing concern that access rights should not be compromised by this major development.
ScotWays has also expressed concern about the possibility of the Council using its compulsory purchase powers, which would result in some people being forced out of their homes in order to make it possible for the additional developments to go ahead.
The letter is set out below.
Mr Robert McGregor
Formartine Area Office
29 Bridge Street
August 27, 2009
Your ref: Area Committee/KN/RM
Dear Mr McGregor,
Planning applications for the Menie Estate Golf Course and Resort, Balmedie References: APP/2009/ 1620, 1623, 1629, 1631 and 1633
ScotWays does not wish to make representations at the Formartine Committee meeting, but we would be grateful if you could draw our concerns to the attention of members.
ScotWays has objected to the five planning applications that seek to extend the present outline consent for the Menie development to various enclaves of land, presently not in the ownership of the developer. This note reiterates and expands on our objections.
As is its normal practice, ScotWays addresses cases of this kind from its own purposes, namely, to ensure that public access rights are secured when development takes place, both the statutory access rights under the Land Reform Act and public rights of way under pre-existing procedures. Councils have duties to protect both categories of access – for new statutory rights under s.13 of the 2003 Act, and for rights of way under s46 of the Countryside Scotland Act 1967.
For the present five planning cases (and may we address them collectively in this single letter) our view is as follows.
First, it is essential that the general condition on access attached to the existing consent in outline for this development is applied to all five additional proposals. ScotWays would wish to be involved in any further debate about the application of this condition, as the project evolves.
It is our view that public rights of way exist on the access roads to the fishing station and thereby to the beach, and also down towards Leyton Cottage and onwards to the beach. These ways are not on existing maps, but it is normal in Scotland that public rights of way exist in many places where they are not documented. It is sufficient in law that a route meets the conditions for the establishment of a way – it then exists, regardless of whether it is on any official record, convenient as the latter may be. We think that past patterns and volumes of public use on these routes, along with the longevity of such use, makes the case for public right of way status.
If these additional developments were to proceed, this would change the context for public access, as the developer would be able to promote a greater degree of exclusivity, which would not in our view be in the wider public interest, given the land reform context of the 2003 Act.
There are reports that compulsory purchase order procedures may be deployed in the future, but we have no clear confirmation that this will happen. We are surprised that this could be considered a possible way forward, and would encourage the Council not to take this course of action.
Cc Sonya Galloway, Planning Officer