Minute of Special Meeting of the Sutherland County Committee held at Clynelish Muir, Brora on Monday 26 June 2006 at 9.30am


Present 

 

Councillor F R M Keith (Chairman)
Councillor D Allan
Councillor R Finlayson
Councillor A Magee (9.40am)
Councillor I Ross 


Apology 

 

Councillor A Mackay

 

In Attendance 

 

A Todd, Area Planning & Building Standards Manager
L O’Neill, Area Administrator
A Macrae, Administrator

 


Also Attending 

 

Mr G Urquhart & Ms K Ballantyne - Applicants
Mr J McMorran - Objector

 


Note: Mrs A Magee did not take part in the discussion or the decision of the item.

  
1. A) Erection of Dwellinghouse and Garage, Installation of Septic Tank and Soakaway, Improvement/Upgrade of Existing Access, In Outline, at 177 Clynelish Muir, Brora for Mr G Urquhart and Ms K Ballantyne (04/00126/OUTSU) B) Erection of Dwellinghouse 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 and Ms K Ballantyne (05/00111/OUTSU)

 

There had been re-circulated Report Nos SU/90/06 & SU/91/06 by the Area Planning & Building Standards Manager recommending the application 04/00126/OUTSU by Mr G Urquhart and Ms K Ballantyne for the erection of dwellinghouse and garage, installation of septic tank and soakaway, improvement/upgrade of existing access, in outline, at 177 Clynelish Muir, Brora be approved subject to conditions, and that the application 05/00111/OUTSU for the erection of dwellinghouse and garage, installation of septic tank and soakaway, improvement/upgrade of existing access, in outline, at Plot 2 177 Clynelish Muir, Brora be refused for the reasons stated.

 

The Manager introduced the application, and cautioned that some of the matters raised through objection are not material planning considerations.

 

Members heard from the applicants advising that the existing house on the croft is too large for their purposes and not financially viable, and as such they were seeking to downscale by constructing a smaller property.  They stated that the application for Plot 2 had been submitted as a back up, should their preferred site, located on the apportionment, not gain approval, and that there was no intention to develop both sites.

 

The Manager also read from a letter received from the applicants re-iterating that their existing property is not economically viable and outlining their proposal to build a smaller more ecologically sound property.  The site is currently unused and not suitable for grazing, unlike Plot 2 which benefits from arable land, and it is their intention to live and manage the croft, the croft currently being audited under the Rural Stewardship Scheme. The proposal that permission be subject to a Section 75 Agreement tying the house to the operation of the croft is not acceptable given that a mortgage cannot be secured with this condition attached. 

 

The Chairman advised that the Council had negotiated with certain lenders to provide mortgages in such circumstances.

 

Responding to a question the applicants confirmed that they would be willing to enter into a Section 75 Agreement restricting any further development on the croft.

 

Mr J McMorran on behalf of the Clynelish Grazings Committee outlined a number of objections to the application, indicating that the development is speculative with little regard for crofting, noting that the applicant has no stock.  The apportionment from common grazings had been granted to the original tenant for improved management purposes only, not development, and this applied to successors. He observed that the proposed service lay-by and proposed access would encroach on common grazings.  Concluding, he expressed concern at the impact on the crofting way of life should crofts be developed for house sites without a connection to the land.  However he advised that a Section 75 Agreement, linked to the operation of the croft, would be acceptable to the Grazings Committee.

 

The Applicants clarified that access would be taken through their croft and not the common grazings, and reaffirmed their intention to manage the croft.

 

Mr R Finlayson indicated that the difficulty with the application lay in the fact many of the local concerns expressed are not material planning considerations.  However she welcomed the fact that the Applicants are willing to enter into a section 75 Agreement restricting further development on the croft.

 

The Chairman reported that he is aware of the concerns about house building on apportionments, and in this regard he did not wish the Committee to send out the wrong signal to developers.  Accordingly he expressed his preference that permission be granted tying the house to the operation of the croft, suggesting that the applicants be provided with a list of building societies that will provide mortgages with this condition attached.

 

Mr I Ross stressed that there may be an issue with the applicants obtaining a competitive mortgage in these circumstances.

 

Following further discussion the Committee APPROVED application 04/00126/OUTSU subject to the conditions contained in the report, to a Section 75 Agreement tying the house to the operation of the croft, and to the size of the house being controlled at the detailed planning stage.  Additionally the Committee AGREED that if the applicants are unable to obtain a mortgage under these conditions, then it would be minded to grant approval subject to a Section 75 Agreement, restricting any further development on the croft.
 

The Committee AGREED to refuse the application 05/00111/OUTSU for the reasons stated in the report.