Focus firmly on Aikey as travellers site

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BUCHAN councillors will shortly debate proposals for the creation of an official stopover travellers site at Aikey Brae just outside Old Deer.

Several sites have been examined by Aberdeenshire Council over recent months, but the compass point has swung back to Aikey which has long held links with gypsies and other travellers.

Consultation with the local community on the Aikey Brae site proposal will begin with a presentation to Deer Community Council at its meeting on Thursday, March 14.

The community will have its say on the formal planning application of formalising the site as a year-round stopover site as part of the council’s statutory planning process.

A report to go before the Buchan Area Committee on Tuesday states that the Housing Service has looked at council-owned land at Peterhead, Fraserburgh, Ellon and Macduff, which have been used as unauthorised encampments over the past few years.

The sites at Peterhead and Fraserburgh have been deemed unsuitable as they are both along the beach or coastal roads, while the land at Ellon is not suitable as it is close to the town centre and travellers prefer not to be located close to town centres.

The two areas of land in Macduff are unsuitable as one is in the centre of an industrial area, which is not ideal for families and encampments with horses, and the other site has been let for industrial development.

Ritchie Johnson, director of Housing & Social Work, says: “The site at Aikey Brae, just outside Old Deer, which has been used for manyyears as an unauthorised encampment is considered a feasible option as it continues to be used regularly by the travelling community.

“There are already large areas of hard standing on the site, natural bunding in the quarry area and access to water.

“The number of complaints from near by residents has been negligible in the past and is generally acceptable as a suitable stopping place for gypsies/travellers.”

The proposal for developing the site includes the provision of a waterpipe, portaloos and refuse facilities to be routinely managed by the Housing Service. Signage is to be erected indicating the pitches on the site.

To bring the site - which will require full planning consent - up to an acceptable standard as a stopover site, works will include provision of 14 pitches, new fencing, hard standing areas, associated landscaping works and the provision of a water supply via a standpipe.