Minute of Meeting of the Sutherland County Committee held in Brora Community Centre on Monday 5 June 2006 at 10.30am.

 

Present

 

Councillor F R M Keith (Chairman)
Councillor D Allan
Councillor R Finlayson
Councillor A Mackay
Councillor A Magee
Councillor I Ross

 


In Attendance

 

G McLaughlin, Area Manager
A Todd, Area Planning & Building Standards Manager
C Stewart, Area Roads & Community Works Manager
B McFadyen, Area Finance Manager
L O’Neill, Area Administrator
C Mackenzie, Principal Planner, South Team
G Ireland, Tourism Development Officer
K Macinnes, Economic Development Coordinator
K Mackintosh, Property Manager
J McCarthy, Area Surveyor/Technician
B Robertson, Senior Planner
B Mackenzie, Planner
A Macrae, Administrator

 


Planning and Building Control

 


Note:  Mr F Keith, Portfolio Holder for Planning & Building Control took the Chair.

 


1.1 Demolition of Existing Fuel Filling Station and Change of Use of Ground for Erection of 6 No. Terraced Dwellings, Provision of Parking for 12 No. Vehicles at Ardgay Services, Ardgay for Dun-Aliscaig Estate Management Ltd 05/00408/FULSU

 


The Chairman reported that the application would be determined in accordance with the Hearings procedure, and confirmed that all parties had received a copy of the procedure.

 

There had been circulated Report No SU/93/06 by the Area Planning & Building Standards Manager recommending that the application 05/00408/FULSU for the demolition of existing fuel filling station and change of use of ground for erection of 6 no. terraced dwellings, provision of parking for 12 no. vehicles at Ardgay Services, Ardgay for Dun-Aliscaig Estate Management Ltd be approved subject to the conditions contained in the report.

 

The Chairman invited the Manager to present the report. 

 


The Manager outlined the planning policies relevant to the application, specifically the Highland Structure Plan 2001 and Policy G2 Design for Sustainability, together with South and East Sutherland Local Plan General Environment Policy ENV2, and Scottish Planning Policy SPP15. 


 
The Chairman invited the applicants to present their case.

 


C Smith, the applicant’s agent, stated that the development is not a speculative venture, the applicant having traded in the locus for a number of years, and outlined the circumstances resulting in the alternative proposals for housing on the site and commented that the design will ensure the scheme is financially viable. The site has been the subject of an environmental assessment as part of the decommissioning of the site and a Phase 2 investigation of potential contamination will be undertaken by his client.  Proposals for footpaths and kerbing will be submitted for approval, and the requirement for car parking will be met.  Finally the development will cater for a variety of sectors in the housing market given the mix of units proposed.


 
M Brown, for the applicant, reported on the financial constraints which had led to the closure of his family owned filling station, and his concern that the site should not be left to decay and become an eyesore.  The proposed development had been based on the need for housing in the village, and designed to cover the decommissioning costs associated with the site, and to provide a reasonable financial return.  Mr Brown emphasised that the local enterprise company had been unable to assist with the costs and he therefore had to bear the burden of the whole cost.


 
The Chairman noted that the houses are close to the rear boundary and queried the arrangements for washing lines, wheeled bins, and the fact the properties have no door to the rear.  Responding Mr Smith outlined the arrangements for these items, and confirmed that patio doors could be installed if the Committee desired.

 

Mrs A Magee asked the applicant whether he is confident that Scottish Water can provide the necessary connections given the constraints prevalent in the Bonar Bridge/Ardgay area. Mr Brown indicated that following lengthy discussions and the submission of evidence, he had received written confirmation from Scottish Water that the development is acceptable. 


 
The Chairman then invited the objector to state her objections to the application.

 


Mrs S Wardrop related her concerns about noise and late working associated with the operation of the adjacent garage, and road safety issues arising from children using the amenity space. The development will be overlooked, and will cause the garage to be less visible resulting in potential loss of business.  She also referred to capacity issues with the water supply and her concern the system will be overloaded should the development proceed.


 
In reply Mr Brown observed that the separation between the development and garage is greater than the distance to the existing house to the north and therefore noise should not be an issue.   Late working is occasional under the current owners and no disputes have arisen over these issues in the past, when it occurred more regularly.   Turning to the issue of the view, he noted that there are no windows on the gable end of the end of the houses.

 

The Chairman sought confirmation that the development will be double glazed.  Mr Brown confirmed this to be the case. 

 

Mrs A Magee stated the case for a pedestrian crossing to be installed on this section of the road, explaining that there is a play area across the road from the proposed development, elderly residents at nearby Oakwood Place, and a community woodland in close proximity.


 
The Chairman declared the Hearing to be at an end, and all parties confirmed their satisfaction with the way in which the Hearing had been conducted.


 
Summarising the application the Manager advised that while not in the Local Plan his assessment is that housing is the most appropriate alternative use for this Brownfield site as it will meet housing demand in the area and make use of a redundant site which could become an eyesore.  The decontamination of the site is essential and this is being controlled by SEPA and TEC Services with a second phase investigation to be conducted by the applicants.  The proposal for six units is essential to guarantee the viability of the development, and there is a play area opposite which will provide amenity space.  Furthermore the houses will benefit from an outlook over the Kyle of Sutherland, and the applicant had addressed the issues raised relating to noise and late working satisfactorily.  While the development included a proposal for a mix of roof colours, his preference is for one colour and a condition had been included to this end. 

 

The Chairman expressed the view that while the site is being overdeveloped, the applicant had been forced into this by the lack of grant assistance available to decommission the site.  Mrs A Magee indicated that the Council should pursue the lack of financial assistance to private parties in respect of decontamination costs as an issue.

 

The Committee APPROVED the application subject to the conditions contained in the report and to an additional condition requiring the design of the houses to be amended to include rear patio doors.


 

1.2 Erection of 1.5 Storey Dwellinghouse at 59 Golspie Tower, Golspie for Mr C Howell 01/00194/OUTSU

 

There had been circulated Report No SU/89/06 by the Area Planning & Building Standards Manager recommending that the application 01/00194/OUTSU by Mr C Howell for the erection of 1.5 Storey Dwellinghouse at 59 Golspie Tower, Golspie be approved without the inclusion of a requirement for a Section 75 agreement, as previously agreed by the Committee on 17 September 2001.

 

The Committee AGREED the removal of the requirement for a Section 75 Agreement.

 


1.3 Erection of Dwelling House and Garage,  Installation of Septic Tank and Soakaway,  Improvement / Upgrade of Existing Access, In Outline, at 177 Clynelish Muir, Brora for Mr G Urquhart & Miss K Ballantyne 04/00126/OUTSU

 

There had been circulated Report No SU/90/06 by the Area Planning & Building Standards Manager recommending that the application 04/00126/OUTSU for the erection of dwelling house and garage, installation of septic tank and soakaway, improvement / upgrade of existing access, in outline, at 177 Clynelish Muir, Brora for Mr G Urquhart & Miss K Ballantyne be approved subject to conditions.

 

Mr R Finlayson advised that the objections received in relation to this application and that at 1.4 below, raised serious local issues in terms of crofting, and suggested that a site meeting be held, and consideration given to linking the development to the operation of the croft through a Section 75 Agreement.

 

The Committee AGREED to defer the application meantime and to determine the application at a site hearing to be held on 26 June 2006 with the applicant and objectors present, and to raise the question of a Section 75 Agreement linking the development to the operation of the croft, with the applicants.

 


1.4 Erection of New Dwelling House and Detached Garage, Improve / Upgrade Existing Access,  Installation of Septic Tank and Soakaway, In Outline, at Plot 2, 177 Clynelish Muir, Brora for Mr G Urquhart & Miss K Ballantyne 05/00111/OUTSU

 

There had been circulated Report No SU/91/06 by the Area Planning & Building Standards Manager recommending that the application 04/00111/OUTSU for the erection of dwelling house and garage, installation of septic tank and soakaway,  improvement / upgrade of existing access, in outline, at Plot 2,  177 Clynelish Muir, Brora for Mr G Urquhart & Miss K Ballantyne be refused for the reasons stated.

 

The Committee AGREED to defer the application meantime, and to determine the application at a site hearing to be held on 26 June 2006 with the applicant and objectors present.

 


1.5 Provision of further 2 No. Development Plots, In Outline, at Plots 3 & 4, Ross Gardens, Migdale Road, Bonar Bridge for N J & R A Macdonald 05/00407/OUTSU

 

There had been circulated Report No SU/92/06 by the Area Planning & Building Standards Manager recommending that the application 05/00407/OUTSU for provision of further 2 no. development plots, in outline, at Plots 3 & 4, Ross Gardens, Migdale Road, Bonar Bridge for N J & R A Macdonald 05/00407/OUTSU be approved subject to conditions.

 

Mrs A Magee queried whether the road will require to be adopted.  The Roads and Community Works Manager confirmed that up to four houses are permitted without the road having to be constructed to adoptable standard.  The Area Planning & Building Standards Manager noted that that the Local Plan allowed for the development of up to six houses on this site. He also pointed out that there is an alternative access from Cherry Grove into the site should the site be developed further.

 

The Chairman observed it was unfair that the burden of improving the road to adoptable standard should be placed on the owner of the fifth property, and that for future developments consideration be given to the cost  being shared between those served by the access, by securing a bond from the owners of the initial properties.

 

Discussion then followed on the cumulative effect of the development, and Members asked that it be clarified to the applicants that the Council will not be prepared to adopt the access road in the event of further development on the site, unless it is brought up to adoptable standards. 

 

The Committee APPROVED the application subject to the conditions contained in the report, and to the applicants being advised that in the event of further development on the site, the Council will not adopt the road unless it  is brought up to adoptable standard. 


 

1.6 Conversion/Redevelopment of former Steading Building to Residential Property at Plot 1, Adjacent to Monach Villa, Dornoch Road, Bonar Bridge for Mrs S Yeates 05/00424/OUTSU

 

There had been circulated Report No SU/94/06 by the Area Planning & Building Standards Manager recommending that the application 05/00424/OUTSU for conversion/redevelopment of former steading building to residential property at Plot 1, adjacent to Monach Villa, Dornoch Road, Bonar Bridge for Mrs S Yeates be approved subject to conditions.

 

The Committee APPROVED the application subject to the conditions contained in the report, and to the right of access passing to the south of the site being safeguarded.

 


1.7 Erection of Private Dwelling House and Garage,  Improvement/Upgrade  of Existing Access at House Plot to South of Morven, Mosshill, Brora for Mr & Mrs Ross 06/00021/OUTSU

 

There had been circulated Report No SU/95/06 by the Area Planning & Building Standards Manager recommending that the application 06/00021/OUTSU by Mr & Mrs Ross for erection of private dwelling house and garage,  improvement/upgrade  of existing access at house plot to South of Morven, Mosshill, Brora  be approved subject to conditions.

 

The Committee APPROVED the application subject to the conditions contained in the report.

 


1.8 Note:- Prior to consideration of this item, Mr D Allan declared an interest in the application as owner of Craigroyston, Cathedral Square, Dornoch, and left the meeting for the consideration and determination of the application.

 

Installation of 1 No. Solar Panel on Kitchen Roof at Craigroyston, Cathedral Square, Dornoch for Mr D Allan 06/00081/FULSU

 

There had been circulated Report No SU/96/06 by the Area Planning & Building Standards Manager recommending that the application 06/00081/FULSU for the installation of 1 No. solar panel on kitchen roof at Craigroyston, Cathedral Square, Dornoch be approved subject to conditions.

 

The Committee APPROVED the application subject to the conditions contained in the report.

 


1.9 Erection of New Public Convenience at Plot 1, Public Car Park, Fountain Road, Golspie for The Highland Council 06/00088/NIDSU

 

There had been circulated Report No SU/97/06 by the Area Planning & Building Standards Manager recommending that the application 06/00088/NIDSU for the erection of new public convenience at Plot 1, Public Car Park, Fountain Road, Golspie for The Highland Council be approved subject to conditions.

 

The Manager explained that the plans had been amended so that the development will be located slightly more to the south than indicated on the plans attached to the report.

 

Mr I Ross welcomed the development and its design, and stated that it would add to the visual amenity in this part of the village and bring significant service improvements to a location which is a main stop off point for traffic on the A9.  He also confirmed that temporary arrangements in respect of toilet provision would be in place during the construction process.

 

Responding to Mr D Allan, it was confirmed that the building and its fixtures and fittings, had been designed to mitigate against incidents of vandalism.

 

The Committee AGREED to approve the application subject to the conditions contained in the report and to Scottish Ministers being notified of the proposal to allow them the opportunity to call in the application.

 


1.10 Erection of Dwelling House and Garage, Installation of Septic Tank and Mounded Infiltration System, Formation of New Access onto Unclassified Public Road at House Plot at Croft 610, Stoer for Mr & Mrs D Fraser 06/00122/OUTSU

 

There had been circulated Report No SU/98/06 by the Area Planning & Building Standards Manager recommending that the application 06/00122/OUTSU for the erection of dwelling house and garage, installation of septic tank and mounded infiltration system, formation of new access onto unclassified public road at House Plot at Croft 610, Stoer for Mr & Mrs D Fraser be approved subject to conditions.

 

The Chairman expressed concern at the fragility of the road and its ability to withstand construction traffic, referring to a recent incident when part of the road had collapsed.  He suggested that the applicants be required to make good any damage caused through the construction process, and suggested that a temporary weight restriction may offer a solution. 

 

The Area Roads & Community Works Manager clarified that the roadside verge had collapsed and not the road, and advised that the Council will patch and repair the road as required. He considered that the road can accommodate an additional house on the condition that the developer provides a passing place on the adopted road prior to construction commencing.

 

The Chairman re-iterated his concern regarding the fragility of the road and queried the Service’s consistency of approach to roads repairs.

 

The Committee APPROVED the application subject to the conditions contained in the report.

 


1.11 Change of Use of Part of Building to Registered Masonic Social Club, in Accordance with the Provisions of Section 105 of the Licensing (Scotland) Act 1976 at Masonic Hall, Main Street, Lairg for Mr E Sutherland 06/00137/FULSU

 

There had been circulated Report No SU/99/06 by the Area Planning & Building Standards Manager recommending that the application 06/00137/FULSU for the change of use of part of building to Registered Masonic Social Club, in accordance with the Provisions of Section 105 of the Licensing (Scotland) Act 1976 at Masonic Hall, Main Street, Lairg for Mr E Sutherland be approved subject to conditions.

 

The Committee APPROVED the application subject to the conditions contained in the report.

 


2. Sutherland Local Plan – Update

 

There had been circulated Report No. SU/100/06 by the Director of Planning & Development providing an update on progress with the preparation of the Sutherland Local Plan, drawing together the main themes arising from initial consultation with stakeholders and the public, and identifying key issues for the Plan. The report recommended that Members agree to a further Newsletter being prepared, based on the content of the report, to be circulated to all households in Sutherland and posted on the Sutherland Local Plan website; and approve the revised timetable for preparation of the Plan including publication of an ‘Issues and Options’ paper and consultation through a series of public meetings/workshops during late summer of 2006, prior to consideration of a Deposit Local Plan in early 2007. 

 

The Chairman expressed concern that the content of the proposed Newsletter could act to raise expectations beyond what can be delivered, and at a time when the Council is under financial pressure.  He indicated that the desire for swimming pools in many villages as set out in the report is unrealistic given the costs involved and that typically these facilities run at a loss.

 

Mrs R Finlayson supported the fact that a day care centre for Brora had been identified as a service deficiency, advising that she had been seeking this facility for a considerable period of time.

 

Mrs A Magee observed that the village of Rosehall is only referred to under housing, despite the fact that strenuous efforts are being made to regenerate the village.  She opined that the locations identified for housing in Lairg are inadequate.  Following on from this Mrs Magee expressed concern that the date of the next Local Housing Forum had been set and Member informed thereafter, indicating that she and other Members are unable to attend due to other commitments.  She advised that it is important that Members are involved in these meetings, given current relevant issues such as ward boundary changes and the Local Plan review, and asked for a revised date to be set to suit all Members.

 


Mr D Allan referred to proposals within his Ward that are effectively out of date as the position on the ground had moved forward.  He also suggested that the role of the North Highland College in Dornoch, both present and future should be considered as part of the review.

 

Mrs A Magee stressed that the Local Plan should reflect both ongoing and planned development and delete what is already in place, referring to a number of relevant ongoing developments e.g. cycle trails at Carbisdale, expansion of Timepsan, Helmsdale etc.

 

Mr I Ross emphasised that the review process should establish a realistic balance in terms of what can be achieved and identify gaps where they exist, as an example referring to the need to have a integrated and comprehensive development around the new mountain bike track in Golspie. He concurred that it should be made clear in the Newsletter that the proposals contained therein are aspirational.

 

Members heard from both the Principal Planner and Planner on the purpose of the next meeting of the Local Housing Forum explaining that it is essentially a technical exercise to gather information, and determine what is deliverable in the next five years, which will then be taken to the Members to allow a full and informed discussion and thereafter community consultation on potential sites.

 

The Area Manager explained that he had asked that Members to be invited to the meeting of the Forum.

 

The Chairman expressed his extreme dissatisfaction that Members had not been consulted on the date of the next Forum meeting in the first instance, and queried the mechanism for identifying sites, advising this should be the role of local communities.

 

Following further discussion the Committee AGREED to a further Newsletter being prepared, based on the content of the report and on the comments of Members detailed above, to be circulated to all households in Sutherland and posted on the Sutherland Local Plan website; and APPROVED the revised timetable for preparation of the Plan including publication of an ‘Issues and Options’ paper and consultation through a series of public meetings/workshops during late summer 2006, prior to consideration of a Deposit Local Plan in early 2007.  Additionally it was AGREED that it be explicit in the Newsletter that the content reflects the community aspirations, so as not to create unrealistic expectations within the community.

 


3. Economic Impact of Cruise Liner Activity

 

There had been circulated Report No. SU/101/06 by the Director of  Planning & Development providing an update on cruise liner activity in the Highlands, and particularly at the port of Invergordon, and assessing the economic impact on Sutherland. The report recommended that Members note the economic impact on Sutherland.

 

Members heard from the Tourism Development Officer on efforts being made to increase the number of tour guides and secure quality coaches to meet the requirements of the cruise liners.

 

The Committee AGREED to note the information contained in the report.

 


4. Transport to Employment Project (T2E)

 

There had been circulated Report No. SU/102/06 by the Director of Planning & Development detailing progress with the Transport to Employment Project following is first year of operation in East and Central Sutherland.  The report recommended that Members note progress.

 

Mr D Allan noted that the labour force in Dornoch is increasingly sourced from Easter Ross and the project should take this factor into account.  The Economic Development Co-ordinator acknowledged this point and advised that currently transport to Tain is being provided as part of the project.

 

The Committee AGREED to note progress with the Transport to Employment Project.

 

Chairman's Items

 


5. Minute of Meeting of 15 May 2006

 

The Minute of Meeting of 15 May 2006 was approved.

 


6. Creich Community Council, Bettyhill, Strathnaver & Altnaharra Community Council - Adoption of New Constitutions

 

There had been circulated Report No. SU/103/06 by the Area Manager advising that no representations had been received in response to the proposals by Creich Community Council and Bettyhill, Strathnaver & Altnaharra Community Council to amend their Constitutions.  The report recommended that Members agree to formally adopt the revised Constitutions.

 

The Committee APPROVED the recommendations.

 


Transport, Environmental and Community Services

 


Note: Mr I Ross, Portfolio Holder for TEC Services took the Chair.

 


7. Area Minor Works 2006/07

 

There had been circulated Report No SU/104/06 by the Area Roads & Community Works Manager setting out proposed list of works to be carried out under the Area Minor Capital Works budget for 2006/07.  The report recommended that Members approve the list of Area Minor Capital works for 2006/07.

 

Mrs R Finlayson asked that the footway improvements to the C33 Shore Street, Helmsdale, included in the list of works, be progressed at the earliest opportunity.

 

Mr D Allan sought the inclusion of repairs to the road at Proncy Cemetery, fencing at Camore, and the footpath to Dornoch Academy.  The Manager indicated that this budget is intended for road improvements, and that the works referred to would have to be met from exiting budgets or though bids for additional funds.  However he indicated that the footpath to Dornoch Academy will be met from the revenue budget and will be carried out when the relevant contractor is next in the area.

 

The Committee APPROVED the list of Area Minor Works 2006/07.

 


8. Community Works – Project Fund

 

There had been circulated Report No SU/105/06 by the Area Roads & Community Works Manager outlining funding available under the project fund for Community Works initiatives within the Sutherland Area, with each Member being allocated the sum of £1,500 towards local projects.  The report recommended that Members consider how they wish to allocate the funds and advise their local Community Works Officer accordingly.

 

The Committee AGREED to note funding available under the Community Works Project Fund, and that individual Members advise their local Community Works Officer as to how they wish the funds to be allocated.

 


9. Demolition of Public Convenience, Bonar Bridge

 

There had been circulated Report No SU/106/06 by the Area Roads & Community Works Manager detailing a proposal to demolish the former public conveniences at Tulloch Road, Bonar Bridge, to make way for environmental improvements.  The report recommended that Members agree to declare the former public conveniences at Tulloch Road, Bonar Bridge surplus to requirements, and to the building being demolished to allow environmental improvements to proceed.

 

The Committee AGREED to declare the former public conveniences at Tulloch Road, Bonar Bridge surplus to requirements, and to the building being demolished to allow environmental improvements to proceed.  Additionally it was AGREED that the potential for the site to provide additional car parking be investigated.

 


10. Improvements to Play Areas

 

There had been circulated Report No SU/107/06 by the Area Roads & Community Works Manager advising that sum of £75,434 has been allocated towards the improvement of play areas and setting out proposals to utilise the budget, detailed in the Appendix to the report.  The report recommended that Members approve the allocation of the available budget on the basis set out in the report.

 

Mr A Mackay expressed his disquiet that the play areas in his Ward had been excluded i.e. Bettyhill, Tongue, and Strathy.  Responding the Manager indicated that following the resolution of drainage problems the equipment at Varrich Place, Tongue had been purchased and is about to be renewed, the cost being met from the revenue budget.  The Bettyhill Play Association had yet to respond on their requirements and in relation to Strathy the resources exist to replace the swings as required.

 

Mrs A Magee queried progress with the replacement of the “death” slide at Ferrycroft, Lairg indicating that it had been out of action for some time.  The Manager explained that it would be installed by the end of June.

 

The Committee AGREED that the available budget for play areas be allocated on the basis set out in the Appendix to the report.

 


Housing and Social Work

 


Note: Mrs R Finlayson, Portfolio Holder for Housing & Social Work took the Chair.

 

 The Council resolved that, under Section 50A(4) of the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973, the public be excluded from the meeting during discussion of the following item on the grounds that it involved the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined in Paragraphs  6 & 9 of Part 1 of Schedule 7A of the Act.    

 


11. Council House Sales – Ref:08/59/05

 

There had been circulated Report No. SU/108/06 by the Area Administrator asking Members to exercise the discretion available to them under Section 61(b) of the Housing (Scotland) Act 1987 in relation to an application to purchase a Council house (Ref: 08/59/05) by the tenant jointly with her son. The report recommended that Members consider the request and exercise their discretion in terms of the legislation.

 

The Committee AGREED to refuse the request.

 


Additional Items

 


The Chairman AGREED to consider the following items as a matter of urgency to allow arrangements to be made to relocate the Service Points in Golspie and Dornoch, following the rationalisation of the Council’s offices in East Sutherland

 


Resources

 


Note: Mr A Mackay, Portfolio Holder for Resources took the Chair.

 


12. Relocation of Dornoch Service Point

 

There had been tabled Joint Report No. SU/109/06 by the Director of Property & Architectural Services and  Area Manager detailing the options for the relocation of the Service Point in Dornoch  following the rationalisation of the Council’s offices in East Sutherland.  The report recommended that Members agree, in principle, to the relocation of Dornoch Service Point to Dornoch Sheriff Court subject to consultation with the Dornoch Area Community Council, and to instruct the Director of Property and Architectural Services to agree terms for the lease.

 


The Committee APPROVED the recommendation.

 


13. Relocation of Golspie Service Point

 

There had been tabled Joint Report No. SU/110/06 by the Director of Property & Architectural Services and  Area Manager detailing the options for the relocation of the Service Point in Golspie following the rationalisation of the Council’s offices in East Sutherland.  The report recommended that Members agree, in principle, to the relocation of the Service Point to Olsen House, Golspie and to instruct the Director of Property and Architectural Services to negotiate an extension of the lease of Olsen House, in consultation with the Area Manager.

 

The Committee APPROVED the recommendation.