Aberdeen FC have done all they can, according to chairman Stewart Milne as he welcomed planners’ recommendation to approve plans for a new stadium.
But objectors to the proposals have vowed to continue their fight against the application.
Mr Milne said he was “pleased” council planning officers recommended councillors give the go-ahead for a new stadium, community sports hub and training facilities at Kingsford.
He said: “This is welcome news for the club, our fans and the wider community who back our plans.
“As with any major planning application, there will inevitably be some conditions attached to this approval and our commitment to the council and to the local community is that, should the councillors grant consent, we will meet the conditions and work hard to address both the real and perceived issues – particularly around transportation and traffic management.
“The club and its team of experts have now done everything we can and it is now up to our councillors to weigh up the recommendation along with all the information in the application.”
Objection group No Kingsford Stadium (NKS) has said it will launch a legal review of the planners’ report.
In a statement, the group said: “NKS is deeply concerned by the recommendation for approval by ACC planners.
“This application is being recommended for approval on economic and public benefit, which has not been proven.
“We will be contacting our legal team to begin to review the 160-page planners’ report with a view to taking further action should councillors vote to approve the application.
“Aberdeen-shire Council, the local communities of Westhill and Kingswells and the Strategic Development Planning Authority have all objected to this development.
“We very much hope that Aberdeen City councillors will take a view to follow the agreed local development plan and refuse this application.
“We will continue to work, with the tremendous support of the local community, to defeat this application and protect the space around our community.”
Planning officers conceded that the development would represent a “significant departure” from policy relating to green belt land.
However, they concluded the “public benefits of the stadium outweigh the provisions of the development plan”, and recommended councillors approve the plans on Monday.
The recommendation outlined a “willingness to approve” subject to conditions and a planning obligation securing developer contributions relating to paths and the formation of a public transport steering group.
Objectors had raised concerns about the location of the planned stadium being on land allocated as green belt, but planners said there are “no other sites” that would be suitable, available and deliverable that would be “preferable in term of environmental impacts”.
The report by planners also praises the “positive” design concept of the development in creating a “distinctive building which would be architecturally interesting, particularly through the use of coloured translucent panelling”.
Noise from the stadium had also been raised as an issue by objectors, but planners said noise impacts would be “tolerable”.
The report concedes the development is “considered to encourage car-borne travel” due to it being “largely separated from its catchment populations” and provision of car parking.
It added: “Notwithstanding this tension with transport-related policies, the use of conditions to ensure the delivery of interventions such as a pedestrian overbridge (or other means of safe pedestrian crossing) and implementation of a Controlled Parking Zone within Westhill will go some way to mitigating the impacts of the development.”
The development going ahead would also result in “potentially millions of pounds of additional Gross Value Added per annum for the region, in addition to a significant £50 million up front investment”, as well as creating short and long-term jobs, according to the report.
It adds: “It would give the potential for improved performance by the football team and of at least maintaining, if not increasing, crowd numbers together with the attraction of additional major sporting events and concerts – all of which would bring visitors from outside the region along with associated spending which would benefit the local economy.”
It could also “promote the North-east as a sporting destination” and may “enhance the image of the city and promote Aberdeen as a destination for sporting events and associated event-related and overnight/weekend business”.
Expansion of the work of the Aberdeen FC Community Trust would also be possible through the new stadium facilities.
The report warns: “These benefits are highly unlikely to occur if approval is not given for the current proposal.”
It said: “It is considered that the proposal would have significant public benefits for the region – both economic and social.
“Given the lack of available or deliverable sites, it can be concluded that these public benefits will not be realised if approval is not given for the development on the site that is currently proposed.”
It adds: “It is considered that the public benefits of the stadium outweigh the provisions of the development plan and no material considerations have been identified that would weigh significantly to the contrary. Having had regard to the benefits that would be realised through the development and its limited environmental and ecological value over and above its basic function as part of a buffer between settlements, it is considered that Scottish Planning Policy weighs in favour of approval of the application.”
Westhill and Kingswells for Kingsford, a pro-stadium group, said: “We are absolutely delighted that common sense has prevailed and the council planners now see fit to recommend approval of this application. We now have to trust our elected officials to make the right decision in the best interests of the club, our communities, the wider region and its economy.”