Minute of Special Meeting of the Sutherland County Committee held at Culrain Village Hall on Thursday 2 November 2006 at 3.15pm.
Councillor F R M Keith (Chairman)
Councillor R Finlayson
Councillor A Mackay
Councillor A Magee
Councillor I Ross
Councillor D Allan
A Todd, Area Planning & Building Standards Manager
C Stewart, Area Roads & Community Works Manager
L O’Neill, Area Administrator
A Macrae, Administrator
1. Site Inspection
Prior to the commencement of business the Committee, the applicant and objectors undertook a site visit to Plot 1, Adjacent to Rosebank, Culrain. The Chairman stated his intention to determine the application in accordance with the Hearings procedure, albeit that the meeting had not been advertised as a Hearing and the applicant and objectors advised in advance that they would not have the opportunity to speak. The Chairman and local Member, Mrs A Magee, stated that it was their recollection that the Committee, at its meeting on 14 August 2006, had agreed to continue the application to allow for a site visit and a further Hearing to allow for any new information gained through the site visit. The Chairman therefore sought the agreement of Members, the applicant and the objectors to proceed on the basis of the Hearings procedure, and all parties confirmed their agreement to this.
2. Erection of Dwellinghouse;Improvement/Upgrade of Existing Access; Infiltration of Sewage Treatment Plant and Mounded Infiltration System at Plot 1, Adjacent to Rosebank, Culrain for Mr & Mrs G Milne
The Chairman confirmed that the application would proceed under the Hearings Procedure, and copies of the procedure were made available to all present.
There had been re-circulated Report No SU/129/06 by the Area Planning & Building Standards Manager recommending that the application 05/00134/OUTSU for the erection of a new dwellinghouse, improvement/upgrade of existing access, installation of a sewage treatment plant and mounded infiltration system at Plot 1, adjacent to Rosebank, Culrain for Mr & Mrs G Milne be approved subject to conditions.
The Manager outlined the planning policies relevant to the application, particularly Policy H3 Housing in the Countryside, and Policy G2 Design for Sustainability. Representations received in relation to the application related to the fact that the plot lies within the site of the Battle of Carbisdale, the impact on trees, issues relating to foul drainage, surface water, and amenity and concerns regarding the public road. No technical objections to the application had been received and an archaeological investigation of the site had revealed no artefacts. Both Historic Scotland and the Archaeological Unit have no objections to the application. Finally he advised that since compiling the report a number of letters, e-mails and a petition had been received in support of the application.
The Chairman then invited the applicants to present their case.
Mr H Ross, agent for the applicant, advised that as discussed at the site visit, the position of the house could be amended to reduce the impact on amenity of the neighbouring property, and that surface water drainage will be engineered to comply with SUDS, in accordance with relevant technical requirements.
The Chairman then invited the local community council to comment. Mrs S Cormack, Ardgay and District Community Council confirmed that the Community Council had no objection to the application.
The Chairman then invited the objectors to state their case.
Dr Hamblett reported that following the publicity generated by the application, an approach had been received from the Battlefield Trust, confirming the importance of the site and asking to be informed of any development proposals on the battle site area. She noted that the archaeological evidence often failed to satisfy the historians in this type of case.
Mr P Wright expressed concern at the condition of the main road in the area, alleging that the road is collapsing, and the construction of a service lay-by will further erode the hillside and weaken the road. Drainage is non-existent and the existence of a new water main left no possibility of embankment work being undertaken to reinforce the road. He expressed concern at the detrimental impact construction traffic may have on the road and noted that lorries would be unable to turn at the access point. The proposed imposition of a weight restriction on a road bridge, just beyond the site may prevent larger vehicles such as refuse collection vehicles and snowplough from travelling further up the road beyond the site, to the detriment of local residents.
Referring to drainage and the proposed mounded infiltration system, Mr Wright observed that this must be sited carefully, noting that this type of system is only used where there is no percolation. If the system fails it is the owners responsibility, not that of SEPA. He suggested that the drainage be directed towards the Rosebank Cottage to mitigate the potential impact on neighbouring properties.
Responding to the Chairman, the Area Roads & Community Works Manager advised that that currently there is no proposal to impose a weight restriction on the bridge on this part of the road. The Manager explained that the road is in a similar condition to many other U class roads in Sutherland, clarifying that while maintenance works are proposed for the section of road beyond the development he had no concerns about the condition of the road up to the construction point, and therefore no objections to the application.
Mr H Ross, on behalf of the applicant, confirmed that the construction of the lay-by would form the first part of the development, and which would bring a significant overall benefit to the road, with construction being undertaken in accordance with TEC Services requirements, He reiterated that a condition of planning consent will be that drainage complies with SUDS.
The Chairman suggested that it be a condition of permission that the new development link into the existing Rosebank Cottage in respect of surface water drainage.
Mr R A Amelsvoort, in support of the applicants, advised that he had constructed a house in the area on a more difficult site, and had encountered no problems with the road or access.
In accordance with procedure, the Chairman declared the Hearing at an end and sought confirmation that (i) there were no further parties wishing to speak, and (ii) they were satisfied with the way the Hearing had been conducted.
With the permission of the Chairman, Mr R A Amelsvoort queried why parties had been given the opportunity to speak when he had been advised that there would not be an opportunity to do so. The Chairman and Mrs A Magee clarified that a misunderstanding had arisen over whether the application should be the subject of a further Hearing, and that following consultation with the applicants and objectors, all parties had agreed to proceed on the basis of a second Hearing, to allow new information gained through the site visit to be considered. Mr Amelsvoort was also advised that as he had not submitted a timeous representation he did not have the right to be heard.
All parties then confirmed they were satisfied with the way the Hearing had been conducted.
The Manager summarised the application and stated that Historic Scotland, and the Archaeological Unit had no objections to the application, the repositioning of the access will improve visibility and safeguard the trees on the site. He confirmed that the drainage arrangements will be designed to comply with the relevant standards and that Building Standards have expressed confidence that a mounded infiltration system can be achieved on the site. The Manager concluded by stating that in his view the application did not represent a departure from policy and recommended approval subject to conditions.
Mrs A Magee welcomed the opportunity the site visit had given to allow a fuller appreciation of the issues involved in relation to this application, and expressed her wish that a compromise should be reached between the applicant and objectors. Accordingly she suggested that the house be repositioned on the site to reduce the impact on the amenity of the neighbours. Stringent requirements should be set for both the foul and surface water drainage particularly on such a steep site, with both being directed towards the curtilage of Rosebank Cottage. She expressed concerns about the condition of the road, and stressed that construction should not be to its detriment, particularly on that section beyond the site, and therefore asked that it be a condition of permission that construction vehicles turn within the curtilage of the site or alternatively smaller vehicles be used.
The Roads & Community Works Manager advised that as the lay-by is being constructed first he presumed the access will follow which would restrict the need for construction traffic to go beyond the site. He explained that the road could be inspected before construction commences, and agreement reached with the applicant. The Area Administrator opined that a Section 96 Agreement could be utilised to cover the area beyond the site.
The Committee APPROVED the application, subject to the conditions contained in the report and to further conditions covering the re-positioning of the house on the site to reduce the impact on the amenity of the neighbouring property, the drainage arrangements for both surface water and foul drainage being directed towards Rosebank Cottage, and the protection of the road beyond the site, during the construction process. Additionally it was AGREED that it be delegated to the Manager and local Member to determine the detailed planning application, subject to all the aforementioned issues being resolved.