The arguments for removing this areas greenspace designation prioritised future economic development over keeping the land as greenspace, which was (and still is) seen as “overtly restrictive" and which would stifle further development. However, these economic gains were not certain, given that they are even in the feasibility study, listed as outcomes that “could” happen. The attempt failed, because the planning authority’s view in May 2019, and upheld in January 2020 by the Reporter appointed by the Scottish Government, was that rezoning was something for the then current Aberdeen Local Development Plan (ALDP 2017). Hence the harbour board switched its attentions to influencing the development of its replacement (ALDP 2022)
It was only on the final day of the consultations for the Proposed plan’s (PLDP 2020) precursors that the area was suggested for rezoning. It responded to the Main Issues Report on 13th May 2019, the final day of the consultation period, with bid 486 for 4 areas covering the greenspace land round the Bay of Nigg from Balnagask to Cove, and some of the brownfield sites in East Tullos and Altens. This would extend the land currently zoned for industrial development, currently restricted to the site of the New Harbour OP62, the Landfill site OP 64 and OP54, to this much more extensive area of largely greenspace , greenbelt and coastal land. For unspecified harbour related activities to support the activities of the South Harbour; the “Going for Growth” section of the bid, prepared by property consultants Barton Wilmore, did little to clarify what these activities were. So much so that the bid was assessed as speculative in the Council’s Development Options Assessment.
The high environmental quality of all the greenspace/greenbelt coastal land, its historical sites as well as the high cultural value of St. Fittick’s church, were other reasons why that Assessment classified all four areas as undesirable and not favoured for development. They were graphically condemned in the Strategic Environmental and Habitats Appraisal published in May 2020 which concluded mitigation would reduce the damage to biodiversity, flora and fauna from significantly adverse to adverse, and would have little effect on the adverse damage to the landscape.
The public and any Statutory consultees such as Scottish Natural Heritage, Scottish Environmental Protection Agency and Historic Scotland could not comment on the bid as responses to the MIR are not open for consultation. The democratic way of bidding would have happened during the consultation period for MIR, which was open to comments and would have been used to develop the MIR. Torry Community Council’s comments focussed on preserving green space and improving Torry’s environment