COUNCIL planning officers have done a U-turn and recommended that controversial plans to build a house in the gardens of a historic house in Rhu should be approved.

The proposal to build a new dwelling house in the grounds of Torwood House in Rhu had initially been recommended for refusal by Argyll and Bute Council planners in June.

Officers voiced concerns that Torwoodhill Road would be unable to accommodate the anticipated amount of traffic if planning permission was granted.

The application has also attracted 13 objections from members of the public.

However, members of the authority’s planning, protective services and licensing (PPSL) committee agreed to defer a decision to allow the applicant, Mr D. Higgins, to show that the concerns were unfounded.

The matter will now go before the committee at its meeting on Wednesday, September 20, with a recommendation that planning permission be approved.

An officer said in a report: “Members will recall that a report by officers, with regard to the above proposal, was published as part of the PPSL committee agenda for June 21.

“The officer’s recommendation at the time of publication was that the application be refused on the basis that the public road regime was unsuitable to accommodate the resultant intensification of traffic.

“At the time of publication of that report, officers considered that applicant had not demonstrated to the satisfaction of the planning authority that commensurate improvements could be implemented as part of the development, in order to address current road access constraints as highlighted in the consultation response from the council’s area roads engineer.

“Members will be aware that the proposed development was considered by officers to be acceptable with regard to all other material planning considerations (with the exception of the access regime).

“However, members agreed to defer determination of this application to allow an opportunity for the applicant to prepare and submit further details to demonstrate that there were no constraints to the implementation of an agreed scheme of commensurate off-site road improvements, as per the officers’ recommendation.”

Torwood House itself dates from the early 19th century and is a C-listed building.

Though built as a single dwelling, Torwood House has since been divided into five flats.

The officer added: “Further to deferral of formal determination at the June meeting of the PPSL committee the applicant has since submitted an additional plan showing the position of two. passing spaces on the northern side of Torwoodhill Road; one of which is by means of a service bay type access layout at the junction of the proposed private driveway and the public road, and the other being the formation of a new passing space on the northern side of the public road located towards the middle of that section of Torwoodhiil Road between the proposed new access and the junction with Upper Torwoodhill Road.

“The applicant has also confirmed that the applicant has control over the land outwith the application site required for these off-site road improvements as shown on the above drawing.

“The area roads engineer has re-assessed this proposal on the basis of the additional information submitted and issued a revised consultation on this basis to the effect that the proposed off-site road improvements (provision of two passing spaces) will address previous concerns regarding the design capacity of the public road to accommodate the intensification of traffic resulting from the proposed new house.

“On this basis, officers are satisfied that the applicant has the necessary control to implement the off-site road improvements. This can be secured by means of a suspensive condition.”