Plans for 600 new homes at Dunbeg are given go-ahead
DUNBEG’S dream of a Kirk Road upgrade and a new A85 roundabout came a bit closer when councillors approved a blueprint for 600 houses north of Oban, but hopes for a new primary school still seem a long way off.
Councillors unanimously approved the ‘ambitious’ Dunbeg Corridor Strategic Masterplan at Argyll and Bute Council’s planning, protective services and licensing committee meeting on April 26. The wish-list would allow for 605 houses, plus shops, businesses and playparks, to be built between Dunbeg and Ganavan, subject to planning applications being submitted and granted.
Phase one includes 300 homes to be completed over the next six years. The Link Group and West Highland Housing Association have already finished the first 75 affordable homes on the site, including 50 intermediate rent-to-buy properties, and 25 social rent homes. At least 25 per cent of the completed development will be affordable housing.
The Dunbeg Corridor Strategic Masterplan is part of the council’s Local Development Plan, which outlines major infrastructure proposals for Argyll and Bute for the next five years.
Fergus Murray, the council’s head of economic development, said: ‘It is of vital importance in delivering much-needed housing to this area. The boost in the number of affordable homes will make a real difference to the lives of many local residents.
‘ We have listened to the views of people living in the area on these proposals and taken their comments on board. The council is committed to continuing to do so as plans progress. We are committed to growing our economy and attracting people to live and work here.’
In February, angry Dunbeg residents voiced their determination to oppose any new houses until there was a new roundabout and school, coupled with better roads. The council said it has engaged in ‘extensive consultation’.
Council planning officer David Moore told the meeting: ‘Phase one will be 300 houses accessed off Kirk Road. Kirk Road needs to be widened and upgraded. There is a feeling the road is not fit for purpose.’ Phases two and three, he added, would be an access roundabout on the A85 and the housing development at Ganavan.
Councillors voiced residents’ calls for a new primary school to cope with the increase in population. Mr Moore responded: ‘The education department are satisfied they can accommodate the primary children [for the 300 houses]. We have a profound commitment there will not be an issue for child spaces as the development progresses.’
The capacity for Dunbeg Primary School is 141, and the current roll is 78, according to council figures.
A spokesperson said: ‘In the short term, the modest level of population growth in the Dunbeg catchment area will be addressed by ensuring there is provision in the existing primary school. This will be monitored and consideration will be given to any identified requirement to increase the current school capacity.’
The council added that funding for the new homes and associated works such as road improvements will be sought from the Scottish Government’s Housing Infrastructure Fund.
‘The development will be supported by infrastructure improvements, including to roads and education.
‘Retail and commercial development is also proposed for subsequent phases of work, but in the meantime safe and convenient pathways will be created to link the 300 new homes with the existing shops in Dunbeg.
‘The Kirk Road improvements will be a boost to the European Marine Science Park at Dunstaffnage, which was opened in 2014 by Highlands and Islands Enterprise.
‘All works are subject to planning permission, and proposals submitted to the council must meet the masterplan vision.’
An artist’s impression of how the new housing might look and, inset, a detailed map showing their location.