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Councillors to consider plans for housing development at former Cornhill Hospital site

12/06/14

A 300-home residential development proposed for the site of the former Royal Cornhill Hospital is to be considered by councillors next week.

Stewart Milne Homes, Barratt East Scotland and NHS Grampian propose demolishing the majority of the existing buildings on the site, with the exception of the three linked buildings forming part of the upper hospital, and building 300 new homes.

Aberdeen City Council planning officers have recommended that the proposal be refused.

The former Royal Cornhill Hospital site is a complex of unlisted vacant buildings, consisting of the upper and lower hospitals, built of granite in a classical style and formally laid out in a mature parkland setting.

Detailed planning permission is being sought for 135 houses, 141 new-build flats and the conversion of the upper hospital buildings to 24 flats. Conservation area consent would be required for the demolition of the buildings and has been applied for separately.

The C-listed Forbes of Newe Obelisk, which commemorates John Forbes who bequeathed 10,000 to towards building the hospital, would remain where it is, in an area of open space.

The Rosemount and Westburn Conservation Area Appraisal describes the character of the area around the Royal Cornhill Hospital as being "typified by a collection of Victorian asylum buildings of granite construction sitting proud in a parkland setting". The applicants have intimated that granite taken from the demolition of the buildings would be used across the site to form new boundary walls.

The granite buildings on the Cornhill site were central to its designation as a conservation area.

Concerns about road issues, waste and recycling collection issues, the lack of a bat survey, and loss of trees are also highlighted in the committee report and six reasons for recommending refusal are given.

Head of Planning and Sustainable Development Dr Margaret Bochel states in her report: "Given much of the site would be covered by buildings, private gardens and car parking, and the proposal does not clearly reflect the character of existing buildings, this suggests that the proposal would not accord with the Cornhill Development Brief's aspiration that any redevelopment integrates the architecture of old and new into the park-like setting of the site and utilises place-making principles of high-quality building design, urban and landscape design."

"The proposal does not demonstrate the high-quality, conservation-led development of the Cornhill site that was envisaged by the Cornhill Development Brief. The proposal fails to adequately reflect the character and setting of the Cornhill site, and would result in the erosion of its landscape character through the removal of a substantial number of trees, many of which are of good quality and contribute significantly to local amenity. There would be a resultant adverse impact on the character of the Rosemount and Westburn Conservation Area.

"It has been established that the development proposal would be accompanied by the necessary provision for vehicular and pedestrian access and associated connections with the wider network."

Members of the Planning Development Management Committee will consider the application when they meet in the Town House on 19 June.