Pen­sioner Ann is ‘mov­ing on’ af­ter hous­ing blun­der

The Oban Times - - News -

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.

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