Home mix comes under discussion
PKC officer speaks to community council
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