Gypsy stopover plans for Aikey Brae to be considered

Aikey Brae near Old Deer
Aikey Brae near Old Deer

BUCHAN councillors will be asked to give their views on the proposal for the development and management of the Aikey Brae site near Old Deer as an authorised gypsy and traveller stopover site.

Members of the Buchan area committee will consider a report on the situation when they meet in Peterhead on Tuesday.

Consultation with the local community, on the Aikey Brae site proposal will commence with a public meeting at Kemp Hall, Old Deer, on May 13 to which members of the local community and local community councils will be cordially invited.

The community will also have the opportunity to comment on the formal planning application to formalise the site as a year-round stopover site as part of the statutory planning process.

Aberdeenshire Council has for several years been working towards identifying areas of land with the potential to be developed as stop over sites for gypsies and travellers.

Such sites would meet the accommodation needs as identified in the Craigforth Accommodation Study (2009) and from consultation with the gypsy/traveller community as part of the Aberdeenshire Council’s Local Housing Strategy.

Members will hear that Aikey Brae has been used historically as an unauthorised encampment by the travelling community.

The number of complaints from nearby residents has been negligible in the past and the site is generally accepted as a suitable stopping place. There are already large areas of hard standing on the site and natural ‘bunding’ in the quarry area. Access to water could be obtained from the public water supply that runs along the B9209 road. The proposal for developing the site includes the provision of a waterpipe, portable toilets and refuse facilities to be routinely managed by the Housing Service. Signage would be erected indicating the pitches on the site.”

In a report to councillors, Ritchie Johnson, director of housing and social work, says the development of the site would require full planning consent. To bring it up to an acceptable standard as a stopover site, works would include provision of 14 pitches, new fencing, hard standing areas, associated landscaping works and a standpipe on the site.

“An application would be submitted with evidence to support the test in the Local Development Plan that it should

“allow reasonable access to employment, education, community facilities and the main road network,” he says.

“This proposal is supported by the Gypsy/Traveller Officer Group (GTOG), the Buchan area manager and council officers from infrastructure services and the housing and social work service.”

Mr Johnson adds: “The main issue to emerge from the consultation exercises was a lack of stopover sites in the area. Consultation with gypsies/travellers in the Aberdeenshire area specific to the Aikey Brae site and the LDP sites will be ongoing between April and July 2013.