Controversial housing schemes are approved by planning body
PLANS to build 24 affordable flats and 12 houses in Glenshellach have been approved.
Councillors from the Planning, Protective Services and Licensing Committee sat to decide for or against the two applications, recommended for approval by Argyll and Bute Council’s planning department, at a public hearing in Glencruitten Church hall on Monday.
Argyll Community Housing Association (ACHA) applied to build 24 flats, in two three-storey blocks of 12, west of Catalina Avenue. It attracted no letters of support and 54 objections, citing the site’s overdevelopment, increasing traffic on Soroba Road and flooding, and the ‘inappropriate’ scale of ‘the pair of sentry boxes’.
Some 78 dwellings have been granted permission, bringing the total to 102 – above the 90 units allocated in the Local Development Plan (LDP).
ACHA’s regeneration manager Matthew MacAulay said if the project did not go ahead this year, the council would lose the Scottish Government’s funding increase of £7million to £11m for affordable housing in 2016/17.
Iona MacPhail, ACHA regional manager, said: ‘There is a waiting list of 535 for Glenshellach alone. It is essential to increase the supply of new houses in the area.’
David Campbell, of property consultancy Lambert Smith Hampton, stated the dwellings are ‘low density’, and ‘of the 102, 75 per cent will be affordable’.
Joanne Wright, representing Glenshellach objectors, voiced concerns that ‘developments seek to constantly exceed the allocation’.
She said: ‘ The original allocation was for 50 houses. It was only a year later they increase it by 80 per cent. Now a year later they want 102. It is high density.
‘To disregard rules and num- bers just creates a free-for-all. There is no shortage of land. There is no reason for cramming so many units into such a small space. The buildings are too tall.’
Another resident, Martin Langhammer, said the application should be resubmitted as slides inaccurately dropped the roof heights.
Following a break for lunch, councillor Alex McNaughton announced: ‘Councillor McQueen has had to leave, so he will be missing the decision.’
Down from six to five, councillor Rory Colville proposed an amendment to refuse consent due to the flats’ ‘unacceptable’ height, but it was defeated with no seconder, and four councillors voted to approve the application. Councillor Robin Currie argued the LDP ‘does not say the maximum is 90 houses’ and Councillor Sandy Taylor added: ‘When I read the information from the council’s professional officers, I find it very difficult to fail to agree.’
ACHA also applied to build 12 houses by Hayfield, with six more units planned. The plan received no letters of support and 43 objections, arguing the extra 18 dwellings would also exceed the LDP allocation.
For the applicant, Mr Campbell said: ‘The application has been reduced from 18 to 12, and the increased open space is a by-product,’ adding ‘nine houses per hectare is within the low density threshold.’
Steven Fair representing objectors said the unnecessary, ‘tightly crammed’ development was of ‘ excessive number and density’.
He argued that six houses had simply been relocated to an adjacent site and a second planning application, and they ‘jointly proposes 18 houses on an 11 house allocation’.
He urged that the application be withdrawn as a departure from the LDP.
All five councillors voted to approve the application.