A LEADING Scottish architect has joined the growing chorus of concern over plans for a new care home near the centre of Helensburgh

Professor David Walker made the submission to the authority regarding the impact of the proposed four-storey facility, next to Hermitage Park, on the upper Helensburgh conservation area.

Residents of Prince Albert Terrace have also voiced their concerns over the scale of the planned building, on the site of the former council roads depot on Sinclair Street.

The site is the subject of a planning application by Simply UK.

A total of 26 public comments have now been made to the council’s planning portal on the application, 20 of them objections and the other six representations. A decision on the plans is expected by Wednesday, April 24.

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Professor Walker, addressing planning officer Frazer MacLeod, said: “I do not think you will be surprised when I stated that Helensburgh represents the finest concentration of mid-19th to early 20th century domestic architecture in Scotland.

“The proposed development is far too big for the site and out of scale with the existing Victorian and Edwardian context, with broad and almost featureless gables and bleak four-storey elevations.

“The effect of this massive intrusion is compounded by the fact that it is to be of brick with a very high featureless roofline and roofs of tile rather than slate.

“It is appreciated that the economics of building care homes are difficult but this is simply not a suitable site for such a development, towering over Hermitage Park and detrimentally affecting the setting of Alexander Nisbet Paterson’s superb war memorial.

“This application should be refused and redirected to a less sensitive site.”

Residents of Prince Albert Terrace have also made submissions to the council on the proposal, which they feel will damage the environment of their area.

As previously reported, concerns have also been expressed about infringement on the borders of neighbouring properties and access to Birch Cottages on Sinclair Street.

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Dylan Paterson said: “One of the key challenges faced by the council is how to successfully accommodate sustainable economic growth without harming our outstanding environment.

“Key objective E [of the council’s local development plan] – to ensure the outstanding quality of the natural, historic and cultural environment is protected, conserved and enhanced – is of utmost importance.

“I consider that these proposals do not meet key objective E and are not compliant with the requirements of the development plan.

“These proposals are not fit for a conservation area, they are intrusive and represent over-development.

“The design is out of place and does not respond to the conservation area.”

And Victoria Holling added: “A four-storey complex would completely change the appearance of Sinclair Street and the park from all approaches.

“It is totally out of keeping with the environment.

“The proposed structure totally dominates and obliterates Prince Albert Terrace from all aspects below the terrace.

“The terrace is a one-off building created to its height, location and orientation due to a historic dispute.

“It is in a conservation area and the architectural and historical relevance of the terrace will be destroyed by this proposal.”

The site was put up for sale by Argyll and Bute Council last year, giving rise to hopes of a community buy-out by the Friends of Hermitage Park, which is working with the local authority on a £3.3m regeneration of Argyll and Bute's only urban park.

But the council opted in May 2018 to choose a private developer as the preferred bidder for the land.

READ MORE: Anger as Helensburgh 'Friends' group sees depot hopes dashed

Frustration has also been expressed by the residents about problems with viewing plans and documents through the council’s planning portal.

A statement by the authority on the planning section of its website said: “We are currently having intermittent technical issues with our online planning system, and you may not be able to view documents associated with planning applications.

“We apologise for the inconvenience caused, and are working with our software provider to resolve the issue.”

A planning and access statement by Simply UK said of the development: “The new care home aims to offer superior levels of care in luxurious surroundings and will provide residents with hotel-like services such as a beauty salon, bars, top class food and round the clock care all set within a leafy and peaceful setting.

“These design proposals aim to significantly improve the use of this prominent site within the centre of Helensburgh, also bordering Hermitage Park which is currently undergoing an extensive redevelopment programme, whilst bringing much needed facilities to the town and community.

“The proposals were originally subjected to a Pre-application Enquiry by Argyll and Bute Council planning and the subsequent proposals contained within this application have taken on board the planner’s comments.

“The proposals were deemed acceptable in principle in terms of proposed site usage and general design.”