HELENSBURGH Community Council and the Friends of Hermitage Park are among the latest to add their voices to the dissent at plans for a care home beside the park.

But Historic Environment Scotland (HES), while asking for greater clarity on the setting of the home, has stated that it does not object to the proposals by Simply UK.

Argyll and Bute Council’s planning, protective services and licensing (PPSL) committee is set to debate plans for the home, which includes four bars and a beauty salon, after 29 objections were received.

The PPSL committee’s next scheduled meeting is on Wednesday, May 22, although no papers have been published yet as it is more than a week away.

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Nigel Millar, registering an objection on behalf of Helensburgh Community Council (HCC), stated that its view was based on feedback from more than 30 people at a hearing last month.

MSP Jackie Baillie was among those in attendance at the hearing, along with Councillor Richard Trail.

Mr Millar said: “The objections centre on poor design and landscaping, parking and access, and negative impact on the residents of Birch Cottages.

“The depot site is in the Upper Helensburgh Conservation Area. As such any new development there must be of the highest design quality, respect and enhance the architectural “character or appearance of its surrounding area”.

“HCC considers the proposed care home does not passes this test. HCC has assessed the design aspects of the care home against its own design statement which identifies the six characteristics of good design as they apply to Helensburgh. Its overall assessment is that the design of the building is indifferent.

“HCC welcomes this increase in the provision of residential care home accommodation in Helensburgh. However, the proposed residential care home is poorly designed and is not compatible with the Upper Helensburgh Conservation Area.”

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The submission goes on to suggest alternative methods for building on the site, including reducing the care home’s height, giving it a more distinctive entrance and using different building materials.

Meanwhile, Fiona Baker, chair of the Friends, stated that the trustees of the organisation had considered the proposals at a recent meeting before the objection was lodged.

She said: “The Friends do not object to the site being developed for social care residential use.

“We find the present proposal for a yellow brick three and four-storey L-shaped block with a cement tile roof to be entirely out of keeping with the location in a conservation area.

“We consider the scale and mass of the proposed care home to be excessive and overbearing. We think the architecture is unsympathetic and inappropriate in this part of Helensburgh.

“The Friends’ main concern is the wellbeing of Hermitage Park and we do not think this current proposal is appropriate to increasing the benefit and enjoyment of Hermitage Park for residents and visitors as a whole.”

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In its response, HES said that while they did not object to the proposals, their representation should not be interpreted as support either.

Its main concern was over the perceived impact on A.N. Paterson’s War Memorial, situated in Hermitage Park.

The statement said: “While we recognise that the proposed development site is some distance away from the memorial it is our view that its current massing, scale and height would have an impact on the memorial’s setting.

“While we are not opposed in principle to the development of the site, we would encourage a clearer assessment of those setting impacts, and opportunities for reducing the impacts to be explored.”

Simply UK had previously said in a design and access statement: “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.”