LANDOWNERS and developers in the north-east have are calling on councillors to scrap a requirement which they say is wrongly forcing them to pay tens of millions of pounds towards road improvements.

Lawyers have written to Aberdeenshire Council ahead of a meeting of the Kincardine and Mearns Area Committee urging them to remove their clients' financial obligations in relation to plans for 4,045 homes at Chapelton, a new community in Aberdeenshire.

Landowners and developers are expected to pay into the Strategic Transport Fund to help bankroll infrastructure serving the new town. However, lawyers said this was unfair because the improvements were unrelated to their own developments.

The Scottish Government has previously said that both Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire councils were contravening official policy in the way they calculated the contributions required from developers and landowners for infrastructure linked to developments.

Elaine Farquharson-Black, partner at legal firm Burness Paull, said: "Despite significant concerns being raised about the validity of the obligations, many planning permissions were granted subject to a requirement to make significant financial contributions to a Strategic Transport Fund.

"Developers were concerned that they were being asked to contribute tens of millions of pounds to roads and infrastructure improvements that are not related to their developments.

"Put simply, the developers argued that the approach adopted by the councils contravenes policy controls set by Scottish Ministers that requires a council to demonstrate that the obligation is fairly and reasonably related to the particular development, in scale and kind, and is required to provide infrastructure which is necessary to allow the development to proceed."

Scottish Ministers previously concluded that councils had to distinguish between sharing costs among developments which together all require a particular transport intervention, which would be allowed, and asking for blanket funding of all measures whether or not they were relevant to each development - which was not allowed.

Lord Southesk, a landowner represented by Burness Paull, said: "Requiring landowners and developers to pay into a general fund to pay for infrastructure unrelated to the particular development contravenes guidance set by Scottish Ministers which requires the Council to demonstrate that the obligation is fairly and reasonably related to the development and will be used to provide infrastructure which is necessary for that development. "We are quite happy to pay contributions required to offset the effects of our development but not those of others.

"There is no unwillingness to invest in local infrastructure or the local community." We will be providing a new junction on the A90 at a cost of over £12m. To date we have invested over £1m in a new roundabout at Newtonhill and we'll soon be spending hundreds of thousands of pounds to improve the A90 at Portlethen.

"This summer we will be opening a Park and Choose facility served by a community bus service to provide residents with a sustainable alternative to using their car."

A spokesman for Aberdeenshire Council said: "At a meeting of the full council councillors will give due consideration to the application by the Duke of Fife and Alexander Shepherd for modification of the Planning Obligation previously agreed to for the Chapelton of Elsick Development regarding Strategic Transport Fund Contributions.

"Elaine Farquharson-Black has requested to make representation on behalf of the developers at the meeting and councillors will receive from their legal advisors any necessary advice when they consider the matter."