Dons ‘content’ as Kingsford Stadium hearing progresses

Aberdeen FC’s legal team emerged “content” from the first day of a court battle over the Dons’ new £50 million stadium.

The No Kingsford Stadium protest group has long opposed plans to construct the new 20,000 capacity ground and training facilities at a site near Westhill.

After Aberdeen City Council endorsed the club’s proposals, the group amassed £66,000 to challenge the decision through a judicial review at the Court of Session in Edinburgh.

The three-day hearing got under way yesterday with No Kingsford Stadium’s legal representative, Ailsa Wilson QC, attempting to persuade Lord Tyre the council’s decision was not lawful.

She argued the authority breached several areas of planning policy in recommending councillors approve the development.

The lawyer added the authority did not suitably investigate the possibility of Aberdeen FC basing its new ground at other sites – such as Loirston or King’s Links.

And she said people in the area expected the land in question “would be protected from major development” as part of the authority’s own planning rules.

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The protest group’s case is solely against the council, rather than the sports club, and Ruth Crawford QC responded for the council by saying planners took a “careful, lawful approach to the development”.

She said many of the complaints raised were a matter of “planning judgement” and could not be called into question by the courts.

The lawyer added: “The council did not close its eyes having regarded King’s Links and Loirston but went on to consider other sites for the stadium, like land where the AECC currently is and space at Bucksburn, where its replacement is being built.”

Aberdeen FC has been listed as an “interested party” and club representatives are in attendance at the hearing.

James Findlay QC is expected to speak on behalf of the club and in support of the council today, but as proceedings concluded yesterday, he indicated he was “content” with how the day had progressed.

No to Kingsford members attended the hearing but declined to offer any comment “while legal proceedings are ongoing”.

Work on the first phase of the project began last year, with site preparations and the creation of access roads.

However, if the Court of Session finds in favour of No Kingsford Stadium, then the permission handed to the club by the council could be deemed void and the future of the whole scheme thrown into doubt.

In that event, the club has previously said it would either resubmit the application or table a new one, taking any guidance from the judicial review into account.

Lord Tyre is expected to issue his decision in about three months.