STP meeting mired in controversy!
The Stonehaven Town Partnership is on about "Plan B" again, although what "Plan B" is - other then general opposition to the lack of a "Plan A" - is not yet entirely clear. However the picture on the front page of this week's Mearns Leader - an artists impression of the redeveloped sea-front - might give some clues.
We have previously published Frank Budd's views, which are widely shared, and which oppose the redevelopment of the iconic recreation grounds as the site of a supermarket. The Recreation Grounds trustees are themselves a bit mysterious, but they would say their land is any event not up for grabs.
On 27th August there is an exhibition in the Town Hall from 4pm - 6.30pm and that is followed by refreshments and then from 7pm there are speakers and an open discussion. The chair is to be the Minister of Dunnottar and Stonehaven South Churches, Rosslyn Duncan, so hopefully all concerned will be on their best behaviour. However it promises to be well attended, with considerable interest around the town.
The STP have sent out a postcard inviting residents to join the conversation. The Council has had to "clarify" what the STP says. That is a polite way to say it is plain wrong, by the way. The postcard says:
"Aberdeenshire Council has decided to re-examine its decision to back an edge-of-town bid for retail and commercial development in Stonehaven, and agreed to undertake further consultation on the matter."
Eh, no, says Aberdeenshire Council Planning Policy team leader, Piers Blaxter,
“It is incorrect to say that we have decided to ‘re-examine’ the decision to back an edge-of–Stonehaven bid for retail and commercial development. We have not agreed to undertake any further consultation and are content that we have a clear instruction from the Infrastructure Services Committee as to the content of the plan on this matter."
That said, the Council spokesman went on "We are happy to support STP in its aspirations to inform future debates". And Piers Plaxter is brave enough to have agreed to be on the panel for the 27th August meeting along with STP Chairman Doug Samways and Michael Ritchie from Banff.
According to the STP website, Piers Blaxter will identify the process that Aberdeenshire Council have been through to come up with sites for retail development in Stonehaven. Mr Blaxter will also talk through the “Local Development Plan process” and outline how local people can influence the Local Development Plan.
Michael Ritchie, Chair of Banff, MacDuff and District Business Association, will outline the situation in Banff, which has had a similar experience to Stonehaven, and land currently used for recreational purposes at Canal Park has been subject to a proposed retail development.
A further speaker from another Aberdeenshire Town affected by supermarket development has yet to be confirmed.
So the STP meeting is a useful forum for discussion, but it is far from clear that anyone is listening. The only possible outcome is for objections to the forthcoming Local Development Plan to lead to a decision by Scottish Ministers at some future date.