The proposal included the restoration and conversion of various important listed buildings. A residential element of 517 flats would include 175 units as conversions. Non-residential uses totalling 4,525 sq metres would include retail, storage, nursery and restaurant along with 579 surface and basement car parking spaces.
The former Category A listed textile mill site extended to 3.6 hectares and was a short distance to the north of Aberdeen city centre. Scottish Ministers were minded to approve the proposal as they found it utilised a brownfield site in a city centre location. It provided the opportunity to restore internationally important listed buildings that were currently "at risk". The restored buildings and new-build elements would create an attractive environment on a large site which had become derelict.
The flats would provide a significant contribution to population and housing targets, particularly as the site was within a strategic growth area of Aberdeen. Car parking was proposed at a level below a council standard but the council’s roads section had accepted that provision was adequate as the site would be able to benefit from sustainable transport modes. The Scottish Ministers found that it would be beneficial to create a car club for residents and provide four dedicated spaces for car club vehicles. This requirement was included as part of the planning obligation as were improvements to the local road network infrastructure due to additional traffic generation.
The high density of development would lead to some impact on the amenity of surrounding buildings including a degree of overshadowing. However, overall, the design concept was acceptable and any loss of residential amenity would not be at an unacceptable level.
The Scottish Ministers found that opportunity had been provided for the council to discuss developer contributions in respect of, for instance, affordable housing but these matters had not been raised until the planning application was refused. This was contrary to the required approach whereby contributions were brought to the notice of the developer at an early date to assess project viability. It was therefore unreasonable to require additional contributions.
Reporter: Richard Dent; written submissions
DCS No: 200-002-749