Fence at Cumberland Avenue should go, say planners

A long-running planning saga will take another twist next week, with councillors due to debate the controversial site off Cumberland Avenue in Helensburgh.

Dividing line: The fence on Cumberland Avenue.
Dividing line: The fence on Cumberland Avenue.

A 1.8-metre fence has been built around the area, which already this year has seen council contractors – escorted by police – move in to plant trees.

In March an enforcement notice was served by Argyll and Bute Council on landowners Margery Osborne and Thomas Paterson, alleging that the fence had been built without permission.

And on Wednesday councillors are being recommended to refuse a retrospective application for the fence.

A report to the planning, protective services and licensing committee states that Helensburgh Community Council had objected strongly to the plan, as the area is ‘much valued open space’ and the fence is ‘ugly and unattractive, and is totally unsympathetic to its surroundings’.

There had also been 16 letters of objection from the public and three in support; planning officer Howard Young said an enforcement notice had been issued on March 26 but had now been withdrawn pending the determination of the planning application.

“Assessed on its merits against development plan policy and other material considerations, the wooden fence erected along the boundary of the land to Cumberland Avenue represents an alien and formal boundary treatment which undermines the previously attractive context of the street merging with the open space and which added considerable quality to the street scene at this point,” says the report.

“ The retention the fence also undermines the council’s objectives to seek to restore the amenity value of the site caused by the unauthorised felling of protected trees on land subject to a Tree Preservation Order and where a Tree Replanting Notice has been upheld by a Reporter at appeal.”

The report states that plans for housing on the site were refused in 2005 and 2006, with appeals being rejected in both cases, and an application to fell trees in a tree preservation area was refused in 2007.

Trees on the site were felled in May 2011, which led to the council issuing a legal notice ordering the landowners to replant them; when this did not happen, the council took direct action.

Councillors will decide on the application at Wednesday’s meeting in Lochgilphead.

The council report report is here: MR THOMAS PATERSON AND MRS MARGERY OSBORNE ERECTION OF 1.8 METRE HIGH FENCE AND GATES RETROSPECTIV and a copy of the enforcement notice is here: 13-00384-enoth3 (4.5MB file)

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