Nicola Sturgeon has been challenged to back a ban on overturning local planning decisions after a controversial housing development was given the go-ahead at Rubislaw Quarry in Aberdeen.
Conservative MSP Liam Kerr raised the issue at first minister’s questions, challenging Ms Sturgeon to support a new safeguard on the verdict of council planning committees.
It followed a decision by a Scottish Government reporter to overturn Aberdeen City Council’s unanimous decision to reject Carterra’s £70 million build-to-rent proposals for Rubislaw View upon appeal.
The firm’s aspirations for the site had twice been turned down by Aberdeen’s planning committee, both times against the recommendations of officials
More than 400 objections were lodged at these latest plans, with properties were up to nine storeys tall but scaled down in size from almost 300 flats to 245.
Mr Kerr, a north-east MSP, said: “Will the first minister confirm that she endorses this decision and does she oppose a Scottish Conservative policy to guarantee in law that local authority planning decisions are respected so that developments are always carried out in conjunction with the wishes of local communities?”
In response, Ms Sturgeon said: “There is a serious point here that we have a statutory process of planning, where there are different levels and different stages, and it’s important that ministers respect that.
“I’m sure there are people who think that any decision on planning that a local authority takes should be respected.
“But I know there are many other people – I’ve had instances in my own constituency – who actually like the fact that they can appeal against local authority decisions, and that there is a process after that.”
‘Thoroughly unpleasant eyesore’
Speaking after the exchange, Mr Kerr said: “The SNP government continue to take the attitude that they know better than Aberdeen’s local communities when it comes to vital planning decisions.
“The Rubislaw development is a thoroughly unpleasant eyesore and this attitude from the SNP government once again highlights that they don’t care about the views of people living in Aberdeen.
“Ministers in Edinburgh simply don’t want to listen to local authorities and its residents but instead want to grab power from them – it’s disgraceful.”