PLANS for 24 new houses in Garelochhead should be approved despite almost 90 objections, council officials say - but only after a public hearing has taken place.

The proposal by Helco Developments Ltd for the site on land northeast of Braeside at Station Road has attracted 87 objections from the public.

An Argyll and Bute Council report recommends that a public hearing should be held to decide on the application - but also says that the view of authority officials is that the plans be approved.

Public hearings have been held virtually by the council since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The application is the only planning-related item on the agenda for the authority’s planning, protective services and licensing committee at its meeting on Wednesday, January 19.

The proposals were first revealed by the Advertiser in January 2020.

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The planning officer dealing with the case said in a handling report: “The principle of the development is acceptable having regard to the allocation of land for residential development in the adopted development plan.

"The proposals will provide an appropriate layout and design for this well contained site.

“Notwithstanding the third party objections which have been received, it is considered that the topography of the site, the layout of the scheme, the landscaping proposed, and the house designs and external finishes present a form of development which will accord with the Local Development Plan and Scottish Government policy requirements.

“It should be noted that the Sustrans footpath, Garelochhead to Loch Long Way, which runs through the site, remains designated as a core path and may be closed for a temporary period and a temporary diversion put in place to accommodate construction of the site.”

Concerns raised by the public, and reproduced in the handling report, include that the new road will affect the structural stability of Braeside.

The officer said: “Any structural damage to private property in respect of the implementation of a planning permission is a civil matter and not a material planning consideration.

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“Construction of the access road and any associated structures will be subject to RCC (road construction consent) process which will ensure appropriate roads engineering standards are proposed and progressed.”

Addressing various concerns relating to traffic, the officer also said: “The area roads engineer raises no objections to the proposals.

"Further commentary on roads matters and compliance with necessary roads standards for residential development is contained within the officer report.”

They added: “A considerable number of objections refer to the wildlife and biodiversity value of the site. The initial ecological surveys submitted were not adequate due to being undertaken at a non-optimal time.

“These have been re-done and the council’s biodiversity officer is content with the proposals and raises no objection to the proposals subject to the imposition of appropriate conditions.

“In conclusion, the proposal accords with the adopted Argyll and Bute Local Development Plan and supplementary guidance and there are no other material considerations, including views expressed by third parties, which would warrant other than planning permission being granted in this instance.”

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