CONTROVERSIAL plans for a new care home next door to Hermitage Park in Helensburgh should be approved, according to council officials – despite more than 50 objections from local residents.

Simply UK’s proposals for the facility at the depot site adjacent to Hermitage Park are due to be scrutinised by Argyll and Bute Council’s planning, protective services and licensing [PPSL] committee on Wednesday, August 21.

And a report on the application recommends that the planned 64-bedroom care home should be given the green light – but not before a 'pre-determination' public hearing of the committee to consider the plans in detail.

The original planning application to develop the site was withdrawn in July, with revised proposals submitted shortly afterwards.

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But since then the council has received more than 50 objections to the revised application, many of them from residents of neighbouring Prince Albert Terrace.

Concerns had also been expressed by Historic Environment Scotland [HES] over how close the proposed home would be to the site of the A-listed war memorial in Hermitage Park.

A HES spokesman said in the organisation’s submission to the council: “We are not opposed in principle to development of the site.

“However, the new application does not sufficiently assess the impact of change this proposal would have on the war memorial.

“While we recognise that the proposed development is some distance from the memorial, it is our view that its current massing, scale and height would have an impact on the memorial’s open parkland/landscape setting.”

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In an assessment of the application, a council planning officer said: “The park itself is approximately 4.7 hectares and the memorial is in the north-western corner of the site contained within a walled memorial garden.

“This walled garden originally formed the kitchen garden for the now demolished Hermitage House that used to stand within the park.

“The war memorial was added during extensive redevelopment in the 1920s. With the historical asset in mind, it is important to assess the impact of the proposals on the setting of the war memorial.

“The memorial garden and monument are orientated with a strong north-south axis with views southward into the rest of the park.

“Given that the proposal sits approximately 70 meters to the west of the asset, the proposal would not interrupt views to the monument any point within the park, nor will it affect the view of the park itself when viewed from within the memorial garden.”

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The officer then added: “The proposed development, subject to the safeguarding conditions, is considered to be acceptable and consistent with policies contained in the Argyll and Bute local development plan and there are no reasonable grounds to recommend refusal.”

If a public hearing is held, it is likely that it would take place in Helensburgh, with a site visit by PPSL committee members taking place beforehand.