Marina masterplan goes to hearing

A masterplan for the development of Rhu Marina will be decided at a special hearing, it was decided today.

The plans, revealed here in March, would include a marina, bar/restaurant, ‘sympathetic’ housing development, sailing clubhouse and ‘compact boutique aparthotel’.

Despite objections by 48 residents, as well as Rhu and Shandon Community Council, the proposals by the Crown Estate and Rhu Marina Developments Ltd are still being supported by Argyll and Bute Council planners, whose report responds to a series of potential issues raised by objectors.

And the developers accuse the community council of failing to represent views of local people; the community council’s analysis of its exit poll is at the end of this story.

The developers add that there is ‘significant demand for quality coastal housing’ and say the hotel would not be similar or in competition to other local businesses as it would incorporate larger self-catering studios and apartments.

The Crown Estate is said to have already received interest from two retailers who want to run a convenience store – as revealed here, Sainsbury’s is no longer interested in the site.

The developers add:

The purpose of the overall development is to improve the amenity for village and get away from what people view as a messy car park in the summer and an equally messy boatyard in the winter, with little or no amenity at any time of the year, and rather a dead place other than when boat owners are there in the summer at the weekend.

Tidying the place up will not really change this at all in our view, and any significant improvement of amenity for village will only be achieved by the wider site having the facilities and space to provide an improved amenity.

The recommendation to approve the masterplan subject to a hearing was approved by today’s (Wednesday’s) meeting of the council’s planning, protective services and licensing committee.

The council planners’ report describes the area as predominantly brownfield land, but within Rhu’s conservation area.

A design statement “indicates that the buildings will be designed with a form and massing derived from traditional Scottish Architecture however presented in a contemporary image that reflects the requirements of a modern living and working environment. “ The report adds:

“The council supports developments that contribute to the economic vitality of a place such as Rhu.

“Both the Scottish Government and the council places the delivery of sustainable economic growth as its number one objective. In the case of Rhu Marina it is also important to look at the wider benefit of a new facility that creates a better sense of place and links to Helensburgh’s esplanade where new businesses want to locate to, provide local jobs and sustain a growing economically active population.”

At the same meeting an application by GSS for change of use to allow a temporary office building was deferred, subject to the masterplan being approved; there were 52 objections to this plan, with 11 public comments in support.

Earlier versions of the masterplan included a retail store, but this has now been dropped and replaced with a building designated as Class 4 (offices), Class 6 (distribution centre) or Class 10 (museum, library, community hall).


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