Councillors will discuss options for the development of Aikey Brae as a stopover site for gypsy/travellers at a full meeting of Aberdeenshire Council on April 24 (today).
Unauthorised gypsy/traveller encampments are a growing problem in the North-east, largely attributed to the lack of private and public sites available.
An area of land at Aikey Brae near Old Deer has been identified as a potential stopover site. The site was used for fairs for hundreds of years but, more recently, has been used as an unauthorised encampment by Gypsy/Travellers. Officers are suggesting that a planning application is submitted to use the land as a stopover site and that the area is controlled and managed by the council as an authorised site.
Councillors will be asked to consider three options for the development of council-owned land at Aikey Brae.
Option A would bring the land up to an acceptable standard to create 14 pitches, fencing, hard standing areas and landscaping and a fresh water supply at a cost of £315,000.
Option B is a reduced version of option A, retaining 14 pitches but with less landscaping, fencing and smaller pitch sizes, at a cost of £215,000.
Option C would see minimal improvements, with essential works to enable safe use of a limited area of the site with the provision of eightpitches, a fresh water supply and basic fencing, at a cost of £50,000.
Consultation with Gypsy/Travellers in Aberdeenshire has taken place and they have indicated that they would use the site at Aikey Brae. Consultation with the local community has resulted in strong representations against development at the site, including a 375 signature petition of objection. The council has since reviewed the plans to address some of the concerns expressed by residents.
If agreed, the proposals would be subject to a planning application with an opportunity for the local community to comment as part of the statutory planning application process. Should a planning application be submitted, this would be considered by full Council, given the regional significance of the development.