Pensioner Ann is ‘moving on’ after housing blunder
COUNCIL planners have sought to draw a line under a blunder which led to a house being built too close to a pensioner’s home in the village.
Connel Community Council (CCC) reported ‘universally critical’ residents had ‘lost confidence’ in Argyll and Bute Council’s planning department, and deemed it ‘not fit for purpose’, in a letter to the council’s executive director of development and infrastructure Pippa Milne late last year.
The council had apologised and admitted two errors processing the planning application in 2014, in relying on outof- date Ordnance Survey maps and not undertaking a site visit, contrary to established practice.
Last Thursday community councillors hosted a question and answer session with planning officers in Connel Village Hall, who wished to ‘restore faith and trust of local residents in the local planning system’.
Introducing the officers, convener Sandy Dunlop sought to set the tone for the evening. ‘ We must go forward,’ he said. Development manager Peter Bain admitted ‘a shortcoming in recording previous site visits’, and promised ‘any gap in officer experience and knowledge will be addressed’.
The council’s head of planning and regulatory services, Angus Gilmour, also acknowledged: ‘There are lessons to be learned, and we recognise and apologise for the failings.
‘It will take time on our part, but this is a start. The acid test will be what we do.’
Ann Colthart, the pensioner who said her life had been blighted by the planning error, commented: ‘It is unfortunate that it takes a fiasco to make this happen. If this was dealt with two years ago, this would not have happened, but I appreciate it is time to move on.
‘It is a step in the right direction, so that what happened to me does not happen to anyone else.’ But, she added: ‘Actions speak louder than words.’
Ms Colthart asked the officers for reassurances that their site reports and the rules on overlooking properties are adhered to .
ecretaryS Roger Ashforth asked if there would be a review of old cases to see if the mistake was replicated. Mr Gilmour replied: ‘I am confident this was a one- off.’
Among the lessons learned, he said, officers will now visit sites before and during construction, and they cannot sign off an application unless there is a record of photographs of these site visits.
Ann Colthart said it required a ‘fiasco’ to get action taken.