Con­tro­ver­sial hous­ing schemes are ap­proved by plan­ning body

The Oban Times - - NEWS - SANDY NEIL sneil@oban­

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.

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