Home mix comes un­der dis­cus­sion

PKC of­fi­cer speaks to community coun­cil

Blairgowrie Advertiser - - NEWS - Clare Damodaran

Pro­pos­als to in­clude an el­e­ment of pri­vately-owned homes at the Blackthorn Place devel­op­ment in Blair­gowrie were dis­cussed at the most re­cent meet­ing of Blair­gowrie and Rat­tray Community Coun­cil, held ear­lier this month in Rat­tray Church Hall.

The community coun­cil meet­ing on March 9 was at­tended by two Perth and Kin­ross Coun­cil of­fi­cers from the lo­cal author­ity’s plan­ning and hous­ing de­part­ments who spoke to mem­bers of the community coun­cil and around a dozen mem­bers of the pub­lic also in at­ten­dance.

Com­ment­ing on the controversial pro­pos­als for Blackthorn Place, which would see 71 so­cial hous­ing units built on the site, Lorna Cameron from Perth and Kin­ross Coun­cil ex­plained: “This site has been in­cluded in the strate­gic hous­ing in­vest­ment plan which is based on a needs as­sess­ment for the area.

“There is a very high need for so­cial hous­ing in this area and we have the op­por­tu­nity to de­velop this land with Hill­crest.

“There is space for 71 units on that site to meet the de­mand.”

Ms Cameron went on: “We are very aware of the con­cerns that some lo­cal people have raised but we have to bal­ance that with the de­mand for hous­ing, which is some­thing like 250 ap­pli­ca­tions cur­rently and only 14 lets last year.”

Among the con­cerns that have been raised by res­i­dents who live close to the site of the pro­posed devel­op­ment is the den­sity of the so­cially rented units, which is thought to be around dou­ble that of other devel­op­ments in the town, and the loop­hole in pol­icy that al­lows de­vel­op­ers to buy their way out of their re­spon­si­bil­ity to pro­vide a per­cent­age of af­ford­able hous­ing within their devel­op­ments.

Speak­ing at the meet­ing, community coun­cil­lor Stu­art Nichol said: “The pol­icy is quite clear that the type of hous­ing in any devel­op­ment should be ap­pro­pri­ate to the area.

“Clearly these units are go­ing to be quite dis­tinct from other devel­op­ments in the vicin­ity.

“If the pol­icy had been ap­plied con­sis­tently in the town this sit­u­a­tion would not have arisen.”

Mem­bers of the pub­lic at the meet­ing also raised the is­sue of car park­ing in the area.

One com­mented: “How can the de­vel­op­ers put in 71 units there when the orig­i­nal plans a few years ago were for just 35?

“There could be up to 90 cars there in what is just go­ing to be one street.

“It’s very busy there al­ready and it’s go­ing to be may­hem and dan­ger­ous for chil­dren at the school.”

Ms Cameron re­sponded by say­ing that park­ing is “ob­vi­ously” an is­sue that would be con­sid­ered and that the plan­ners “are sat­is­fied” that the street can take that amount of houses.

She went on: “The level of car own­er­ship is sig­nif­i­cantly lower in so­cial hous­ing, 60 per cent lower in fact ac­cord­ing to sta­tis­tics from the Scot­tish Na­tional House­hold Sur­vey.

“So there is am­ple op­por­tu­nity for park­ing but we es­ti­mate that not all house­holds will have cars.”

Community coun­cil­lor Brian Smith has cam­paigned for sev­eral years about the park­ing is­sues at the cam­pus.

At the meet­ing he com­mented that, should the devel­op­ment get the go ahead, it would be “damned dan­ger­ous” and called on the coun­cil to ask the de­vel­op­ers to build a safe drop-off zone at the site.

Ms Cameron said that she would raise that with the plan­ners.

Community coun­cil­lors also sug­gested that as well as cre­at­ing a drop-off zone, some of the land should be given over to ex­tend­ing the ceme­tery and park­ing ar­eas for both the community cam­pus and the play­ing fields at Piggy Lane.

Con­ser­va­tive coun­cil­lor for Blair­gowrie and the Glens Caro­line Shiers has ar­ranged a meet­ing with coun­cil of­fi­cers and the community coun­cil chair for next week.

She said: “I have raised with PKC the need for a mix of hous­ing ten­ure on the site and the op­tion of shared eq­uity to help lo­cal people who want to get a foot on the hous­ing lad­der to have the op­tion of buy­ing their own home.

“I ap­pre­ci­ated Lorna Cameron, head of hous­ing at PKC, com­ing to the re­cent community coun­cil meet­ing and hope we can move for­ward in a way that will see con­cerns of the community ad­dressed.”

It’s very busy the real ready. It’s go­ing to be may­hem and dan­ger­ous at the school

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