Tweaks at Marina and Cardross, but Reporters back most of the Local Development Plan

Government Reporters have backed the vast majority of sites allocated for housing in Argyll and Bute’s Local Development Plan.

The controversial reference to high density housing at Rhu Marina looks set to be dropped however – as well as plans for 146 houses at Geilston Farm in Cardross, despite Taylor Wimpey having already started to market the site.

Scottish Government Reporters spent many months examining the council’s key planning document, which proposed 1,100 new houses in the Helensburgh and Lomond area.

Their recommendations have now been received by the council, which is almost certain to accept them.

In January councillors said they had so little time to debate the plans that it was ‘unsatisfactory in terms of local democracy’, with one member saying he ‘had a gun to his head’.

There were hundreds of objections from members of the public, but the Reporters have gone along with the council officials in most cases.

Despite the apparent urgency earlier this year – which was seen as stifling debate – the stated deadline of October will have been missed by several months.

In Cardross, whose population is currently estimated at 2,000, more than 300 new homes were proposed.

The Kirkton Farm site will remain in the plan but the Geilston farm site, which features on Taylor Wimpey’s website, now seems unlikely to be developed.

Jumping the gun? Taylor Wimpey's website
Jumping the gun? Taylor Wimpey’s website

It was divided into eastern and western fields, but the Reporter said the western one would be ‘a prominent and obtrusive extension of the built-up area of Cardross.

The other field is ‘land-locked’, with no access from roads, so the whole site is deemed inappropriate for housing.

At Rhu Marina villagers said they were ‘in shock’ earlier this year when the council allocated ‘high density’ housing for the site.

They feared it could mean a repeat of the type of housing development which saw a masterplan for the marina site rejected last year following more than 1,000 objections.

The Reporter said that ‘high density’ could be ‘interpreted as implying support for a mixed use development within which housing would be the predominant element’, and so should be replaced by ‘not applicable’.

But he did not back the objectors who said that an additional part of the existing foreshore should be classed as part of the ‘potential development area’, saying this would still need to be addressed via a masterplan.

At Blairvadach in Shandon, the site boundary is altered so that an obstacle course used by the nearby outdoor centre is unaffected and the capacity of a new housing area is reduced from 60 to 48.

There were many objections to 300 houses at Helensburgh Golf Club but this looks set to go ahead, together with 145 houses at the ‘Sawmill Field’ on Cardross Road in Helensburgh, housing at Ardencaple and a total of 32 homes in Garelochhead.

In Rosneath the area known as the Dumps between Camsail Road and the high water mark will now be classed as an open space protection area following requests from residents.

But in Ardpeaton requests from landowners to extend the boundary of the settlement area have been unsuccessful area, after the council argued: “The land is partly wooded and sloping and provides a natural buffer between the coastal strip of development at Ardpeaton and the cluster of more recent development by the MoD on the western side of Barbour Road.

“The area is also designated as local nature conservation site and is on Scottish Natural Heritage’s inventory of ancient woodland.”

The full report by Reporters Lance Guilford, Douglas Hope, David Russell and Martin Seddon is available here (6.6mb download): report_25-11-14

The council is expected to consider the plan at a meeting in January.