A Scottish Government ruling to overturn a planning decision for flats at the city quarry has been branded a “disgrace”.
The city council’s planning committee unanimously rejected developer Carttera’s vision for more than 200 flats overlooking Rubislaw Quarry in the summer.
Local residents had protested about the proposed Rubislaw View development resembling a “prison block” in artist impressions.
The plans included a residents-only gym, function room, public bistro and promenade above the quarry, which has been out of public sight for the last 40 years.
Local authority officers had recommended approval of the application ahead of the planning committee meeting.
Carttera lodged an appeal with the Scottish Government after voicing their disappointment over the plans for the 245 private rented sector flats being knocked back.
And now the Scottish Government’s planning and environmental appeals division has ruled in the Canadian firm’s favour.
David Buylla, the reporter for the planning assigned to the case, said: “My conclusion is that planning permission should be granted subject to the conditions that the council has requested, with minor changes to improve clarity to which the appellant has not objected.”
Carttera still has to sign a legal document ensuring they will uphold the conditions set out by the reporter before permission is formally granted.
Aberdeen City Council co-leader Douglas Lumsden said he was unhappy the decision taken by councillors had been reversed.
He said: “I think it is a disgrace. The planning committee voted nine to zero against it and now the Scottish Government has overturned it.
“We should be going for local decision making not going towards Holyrood.
“I know that many of the residents will not be happy about it. It is a sad day for local democracy.”
The developer will need to meet 20 conditions before any construction can begin.
These include a water drainage connection to the sewer, the submission of a plan for the management of water levels in the quarry and the completion of an air quality assessment.
Details of landscaping, proposals for car park spaces, a tree protection scheme, a badger protection plan and details of waste storage will also need to be provided.
Hazlehead, Oueen’s Cross and Countesswells councillor Martin Greig, said: “The council has been dealt a harsh blow by overturning our local decision and instead giving the developer the planning permission they wanted. The opposition to this was enormous. It was hard to find anyone in favour.
“We made a strong and clear case against this development. This reversal is really discouraging and disappointing. Thousands in the city will be regretting this decision. The Scottish Government has simply brushed away the concerns of the council and residents.
“We all came together to oppose this unwelcome proposal for the quarry area. This enormous building will be visually intrusive and overwhelming.
“The design is completely inappropriate for this sensitive location.”
And councillor John Cooke said: “As a local member, I’m very disappointed to hear that the (Scottish Government) reporter has ruled that the application for the flats at Rubislaw Quarry should be granted.
“I know many local residents will be, too. Not only was the planning committee’s decision to turn down the application unanimous, but we felt that it was contrary to half a dozen of the policies in the Local Development Plan.”
Rubislaw Quarry opened in 1740 and for more than two centuries was an important part of the construction industry before it closed in 1971.
In 2010 it was purchased by friends Hugh Black and Sandy Whyte.
An estimated six million tonnes of stone was taken from Rubislaw and it was used to build some of the city’s iconic buildings.
The Music Hall, Woolmanhill Hospital and Provost Skene’s House were all built using Rubislaw granite with Marischal College, the second-largest granite building in the world, also built from the same stone.
In September, Adventure Aberdeen started running canoeing sessions at the granite extraction site.
An Aberdeen City Council spokesman said: “Aberdeen City Council notes the decision by the Scottish Government’s planning and environment appeals division.”