The new settlement of Chapelton in the Kincardine area was a finalist the UK Planning & Placemaking Awards last month. The Community Planning Group held our last meeting there to learn a little more about the development.
Chapelton has its origins in the Strategic Development Plan for Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire. Nearly 10 years ago the plan was produced with fairly ambitious growth forecasts to enable the North East of Scotland to be an attractive place to live and work and diversify.
The A90 from Aberdeen to Laurencekirk was designated as a strategic growth corridor and required to accommodate a significant amount of residential and employment land development. This was then translated into the Local Development Plan which has specific sites identified for development. Developers were asked to submit bids for consideration by the Kincardine and Mearns Area Committee and thereafter by the Infrastructure Services Committee.
Pressure on infrastructure and communities was becoming a major concern of local Councillors and expressed by communities through consultation and engagement. Continuing to expand existing settlements incrementally with more housing and employment land would continue to increase that pressure. As a result, the Kincardine and Mearns Area Committee was keen to see a new settlement. Two of the bids included a new settlement and they opted to go for the one at Chapelton. They were very much attracted to the philosophy behind this development and the aim to have a traditional town carefully designed and planned right from the start with a mixture of housing, commercial, business and community developments with associated infrastructure for education and health provision all in a self-contained community.
Through due planning process, outline permission was granted for 4,045 houses although there is the potential for the site to expand in the future to 8,000 houses. Within the initial development there will be 4 neighbourhoods – Cairnhill, Chapelton Town Centre, Wester Cairnhill and New Hall and each neighbourhood would be designed with a mixture of housing, shops and services within walking distance and ready access to public transport.
The concept of the development was a series of neighbourhoods, a self-sustained development with a balance of housing, schools, business, community facilities, health and recreation.
(image not a Chapleton design)
The first primary school will be provided prior to 489 house occupations. The secondary school will be provided prior to occupation of 2,705 houses. Meantime pupils will go for primary schooling at Newtonhill and for secondary school initially Portlethen but once it reaches capacity then Mackie Academy would be used. The developer is also providing a new junction at the A90 at the south end of Portlethen at the cost of £12 million. The central reservation has to be closed off prior to the occupation of 265 houses.
The house designs are based on traditional styles based on architecture to be found in places like Montrose, Stonehaven, St Andrews and Fettercairn. The architecture layout design and construction are all of a traditional nature recognising the indigenous styles of the North East of Scotland.
The houses will be built by 3 separate house builders – ZeroC, AJC Homes and Stephen.
Initially it was envisaged that there would be 400 houses per annum, however, this is now looking more like 100 houses per annum due to the downturn in the local economy.
Overall 14% of properties are affordable housing which are due to start in Phase 2, there will be a mix of house sizes from small flats to large houses on the outskirts. The developer is making a unit available for health services and later in the development will provide land for a new health centre. The NHS have expansion plans which includes a new health centre in the future. Chapelton is within the Portlethen medical centre catchment and the centre is having an extension built at the moment to help with growth in the interim.
A community interest company has been formed and all residents will be shareholders in this company. The company will manage the whole estate, including all the open spaces and community facilities. It will maintain the standards of design and construction and will have a veto on future planning applications through statutory conservation burdens. This is an innovative approach not used anywhere else in the North East of Scotland.
Similarly, the way in which the project is progressing is on an innovative and collaborative basis. All parties and advisors from both the developer, the Council and other agencies come together on a monthly basis to work collaboratively to ensure that the development goes smoothly and is of the standard originally planned. Many of the design features in the infrastructure which has to be adopted are new and innovative and these have to be designed and approved and checked to make sure that they achieve the aims of the project and can be sustained and maintained in the future.
In addition there is a Community Liaison Group which ensures that local residents affected by the development are fully informed of what is going on and have the change to air and discuss and resolve any issues. There is also a Service Implementation Group which brings together all service providing agencies to make sure that as Chapelton grows it receives the public and third sector services that it requires without jeopardising services to existing communities.
The Duke and Duchess of Fife have been very proactive at all stages and all levels of the project and in particular are working hard to not only deliver the infrastructure and the houses but to make sure that a strong community is formed as residents move in. They organise a range of community events, have a very up-to-date website and newsletter and work with other partners and agencies to ensure that a strong and sustainable community is formed.