Villagers are celebrating after their campaign against a masterplan to redevelop Rhu marina was rejected.
There was standing room only in Rhu community hall during the six-hour hearing yesterday, which ended with Argyll and Bute councillors unanimously voting to refuse the proposals.
The plans by the Crown Estate and Rhu Marina Developments Ltd, which were revealed here in March, would have seen significant part of the bay in the conservation village infilled, with housing and a hotel being built.
Villager Alastair Moore, who helped lead a campaign which saw 1,300 people signing a petition, said after Tuesday’s meeting in Rhu community hall: “There was strong opposition from the community which sparked rage with the controversial commercial infill and this over- bearing, over-developed proposed project.
“However, locals and the wider community would encourage the marina to be developed sympathetically with one storey buildings within their grounds with some nice landscaping in keeping with a conservation village to suit the sailing fraternity and the local community.”
At the same meeting the council’s planning, protective services and licensing (PPSL) committee agree to approve an application for a new temporary building on the marina site by Gareloch Support Services.
Councillor George Freeman proposed the motion to reject the masterplan and said he was ‘delighted’ with the result.
” I am certainly not anti-development and I am always reluctant to reject a development proposal that has been recommended by planning officers for approval, but in this case, I believe that there was no other option,” he said.
“ Although there is general agreement that the Rhu Marina site is in need of regeneration, the community had made it clear that they totally rejected the proposals contained within the masterplan.
“The main concerns with this proposal related to the massing and scale of the proposed buildings and the extent of the proposed infill at Rhu Bay. Hopefully the developers will now engage with the community in developing a master plan that can be supported by all concerned. This was clearly a case of councillors listening to the concerns of the community and taking these concerns on board.”
The Crown Estate said it was disappointed that the plan was turned down, saying it was to be the first step in the process for developing the lochside, and followed public consultation about local aspirations for the area.
Alan Laidlaw, portfolio manager (rural and coastal) at the Crown Estate said: “The Crown Estate has invested £2.3m in recent years improving the marina, with a view to it becoming an established tourist destination.
“During the public consultation on the masterplan, local residents had the opportunity to view the outline proposals, speak to ourselves and Rhu Marina Development Ltd, and indicate their aspirations and ideas for the wider area. We will now consider our options going forward.”