Minute of Meeting of the South Planning Applications Committee commenced at 9.00 am in the Council Chamber, Council Headquarters, Glenurquhart Road, Inverness, proceeding to site visit to 5 Island Bank Road, Inverness (Item 7.1) at 09.45 am and reconvened at 10.30 am in the Council Chamber, Council Headquarters on Tuesday 26 June 2012.
Committee Members Present:
Mr R Balfour (Items 1 and 2 only), Mr A Baxter, Mr B Clark, Mr J Crawford, Mrs M Davidson (Except Item 7.4), Mr A Duffy, Mr D Fallows (Except Item 7.1), Mr J Ford, Mr J Gray, Mr M Green, Mr D Kerr, Mr R Laird, Mr B Lobban, Mr C Macaulay, Mr T Maclennan, Mr F Parr, Ms J Slater (Except Item 7.4), Mr H Wood
Miss J Campbell for Item 7.1
Officials in attendance:
Mr A Todd, Area Planning Manager, South
Ms N Drummond, Team Leader
Mr R Evans, Area Roads and Community Works Manager
Mr C Ross, Engineer, Roads and Community Works
Ms K Bennett, Conservation Officer
Ms S Blease, Solicitor (Clerk)
Mrs T Bangor-Jones, Administrative Assistant, Chief Executive’s Office
1. Appointment of Chair
Mr J Gray, nominated by Mr D Fallows, seconded by Mr H Wood
Mr T Maclennan, nominated by Mrs M Davidson, seconded by Mr A Baxter
Mr D Kerr, nominated by Mr J Crawford, seconded by Mr R Balfour
On a vote being taken votes were cast as follows:-
Mr J Gray 11 votes
Mr T Maclennan 5 votes
Mr D Kerr 2 votes
Mr J Gray was accordingly appointed Chairman
2. Appointment of Vice Chair
Mr T Maclennan, nominated by Mrs M Davidson, seconded by Mr A Baxter
Mr C Macaulay, nominated by Mr J Gray, seconded by Mr D Fallows
On a vote being taken votes were cast as follows:-
Mr C Macaulay 11 votes
Mr T Maclennan 4 votes
Abstentions 3 votes
Mr C Macaulay was accordingly appointed Vice Chairman
3. Site Visit for Item 7.1
The Committee then conducted a site visit for Item 7.1 reconvening in the Council Chamber at 10.30 am.
4. Apologies for Absence
Apologies for absence were intimated on behalf of Mr T Prag and Mr D Fallows for Item 7.1.
5. Declarations of Interest
Item 7.3: Mr A Duffy (non-financial)
6. Confirmation of Minutes
The Committee AGREED the content of the minutes of the meetings held on 17 April and 24 April 2012 with the following addition at the end of the 24 April 2012 minute:
Mr D Kerr asked whether members would be updated as to variations to the Barratt’s development at Resaurie as they had all received numerous communications from local residents about this. Mr A Todd advised that members would be kept informed although he could not at this stage confirm whether this would come to Committee.
7. Planning Applications to be Determined
There are circulated Reports Nos. PLS/042/12 - PLS/048/12 by the Area Planning Manager South as follows:-
Application subject to site visit:
Applicant: Ardross Properties Ltd (11/04384/FUL) (PLS-042-12 (580kb pdf))
Location: 5 Island Bank Road, Inverness (Ward 15)
Nature of Development: Sub-division of garden ground and erection of flatted property to provide two flats (as amended).
Ms N Drummond outlined the application and presented the report which recommended that planning permission be granted subject to the conditions detailed in the report.
In response to a request which Mr D Kerr had made at the site visit Ms Drummond confirmed that the proposed overall ridge height was 6.9 m. She did not have the exact measurement for the existing properties but had been assured by the agent that the proposed building would be of a similar height and no higher than the existing properties. The building line would project 3m forward of the line of the neighbouring house.
Mr Kerr commented that Bellfield Park was a “U” shaped road that acted as a feeder to all the houses round the park. It also acted as a feeder into Elm Park so there was a substantial amount of traffic. During periods of high use of the park and tennis court traffic was increased further. There was parking only on one side of the road but double yellow lines along that side from the junction with Island Bank Road to the end of the proposed site. So there was no on-street parking for the site and none proposed on site. Mr Kerr appreciated that TECS had advised that parking in the vicinity was not a problem, but he questioned what they had based their figures on as this was a very busy area.
Mr Kerr was also concerned that the proposed building would project out much further towards the street line on Bellfield Park than any of the other existing buildings. It would also project out towards Island Bank Road further than the frontages of other buildings along that road.
With regard to the proposed contemporary design, Mr Kerr commented that while the Conservation Officer had accepted the design, he did not think it fitted in with the overall streetscape in this part of the Conservation Area. It did not preserve or enhance in any way the character of the area.
Miss J Campbell agreed with Mr Kerr’s comments and indicated she was not supportive of the application. Miss Campbell’s concerns were three fold: design, parking and road safety and the impact on residential amenity in the Conservation Area. She was disappointed that no slide of the actual design had been included in the presentation. Miss Campbell elaborated on her concerns as follows.
From what she had been able to see of the design as shown on the website, it was not, she felt, acceptable in this area. This was not a site for quirky, innovative design. The proposal did not demonstrate sensitive siting or appropriate design in keeping with the local character of this important Riverside Conservation Area. In the vicinity of the site were the Forbes Fountain, the River Ness, Ness Islands and Ladies Walk – all jewels in the crown of the Conservation Area. Appropriate design was accordingly crucial and should be in keeping with the local character.
With regard to parking and road safety, most of the properties in the vicinity of the site had off-street parking and the available on-street parking was already fully utilized. As a local member, Miss Campbell’s constituents had in the past expressed concerns about parking issues in Bellfield Park. Although TECS had said there was not a problem, Miss Campbell was not convinced and shared residents’ concerns about this. She also shared the safety concerns of the residents in relation to the visual obstruction the development would create for traffic manoeuvring in and out of what was an extremely busy junction with Island Bank Road.
Miss Campbell also contended that the development would not make a positive contribution to the architectural and visual quality within the Conservation Area and would have a detrimental impact on individual and community residential amenity in the area.
Mr R Laird shared the concerns expressed by Mr Kerr and Miss Campbell. He had taken on board the points that both TEC Services and the Conservation Officer had made but he still had concerns about the provision of parking in the Bellfield Park area and about the suitability and design of the proposed development given the nature of the Conservation Area and the style and location of the buildings which already existed.
In response to questions relating to parking availability and the permit system in place, Mr R Evans confirmed that residents could buy one full permit and one visitor permit per property. He clarified that short-stay restrictions were in place on the Bellfield Park side of the road during the day to discourage use by commuters.
Mr Kerr asked Mr Evans to indicate how many parking spaces were available in the Bellfield Park area and how many parking permits had been issued. Mr Evans advised that he did not have this information to hand but offered to provide it at a later date. Mr Kerr queried how TECS had calculated whether there was available parking without knowing the number of spaces and number of issued permits. Mr Evans then offered to give the Committee the evidence TECS had obtained from the Traffic Wardens who dealt with that area. It was confirmed that the Traffic Wardens’ observations related to day-time use only. The day-time observations were as follows:
“We can’t see any problems with this. We do exercise discretion with the permit holders and allow them to use the free limited waiting area if necessary, especially at the busy times and school holidays, etc. Other than that everyone gets parked where they are allocated. In the week during the day time it is very quiet. Saturdays, a little busier. We have no recent complaints from the residents”.
Mr Evans confirmed that TECS themselves had also received no complaints from residents.
Mr Kerr commented that the fact that the Traffic Wardens were having to allow permit holders to use the short stay parking area indicated that there was, in fact, insufficient parking for residents.
Mr A Duffy commented that, from his own experience of the parking situation in the area, what the Traffic Officers had said was not entirely accurate. He also expressed concern that the top floor flat would be overlooking the Park itself.
Mr T Maclennan advised that he was fairly content with the principle of a building on this site. He felt that the site visit would have been enhanced had the development been pegged out on site and that this would have illustrated just how prominent the development would be, encroaching as it would both towards Island Bank Road and Bellfield Road. He concurred with other members on the inappropriateness of the proposed design in this part of the Conservation Area. While in favour of innovative design, Mr Maclennan considered the scale of this proposal too big. He expressed concern at the lack of precision as to the height of the proposed building.
There being no other member minded to speak, and Mr Kerr and Miss Campbell having indicated that they wished respectively to move and to second a motion that planning permission be refused, the Chairman called a brief adjournment to allow Mr Kerr and Miss Campbell to consult the Clerk on the wording of the motion.
Following the adjournment, Mr D Kerr, seconded by Miss J Campbell, then moved that planning permission be refused on the following grounds.
- The application was contrary to Policy 28 of the Highland wide Local Development Plan in that (i) the development did not demonstrate sensitive siting or appropriate design in keeping with the local character of the Riverside Conservation Area and (ii) it would not make a positive contribution to architectural and visual quality within this Conservation Area and would have a detrimental impact on individual and residential amenity in the area
- In addition, there was a lack of available on-street parking spaces in the general area and no off-street parking available on the site
There being no member otherwise minded, the Committee then agreed to REFUSE planning permission for the reasons stated in Mr Kerr’s motion.
Applicant: Mr John Martin (11/04658/PIP) (12/00766/FUL) (PLS-043-12 (654kb pdf))
Location: The Chalet, West Torbreck, Inverness (Ward 16)
Nature of Development: Demolition of existing sub-standard chalet/caravan and replacement by 1 ½ storey dwelling
The Chairman advised that additional information had been sent to local members and had only now been forwarded to officials. To allow the new information to be evaluated by planning officials a deferral was requested.
The Committee agreed to DEFER determination of the application.
Applicant: Ness Castle Lodge Ltd (PLS-044-12 (1) (867kb pdf)|PLS-044-12 (2) (1754kb pdf)|PLS-044-12 (3) (1204kb pdf))
Location: Fishing Lodge, Ness Castle, Inverness (Ward16)
Nature of Development: Erection of kitchen area extension to fishing lodge
Mr A Duffy had earlier declared a non-financial interest in this application as an acquaintance of the owner of the applicant company and left the chamber for the duration of this item.
Ms N Drummond presented the report and recommendation. Ms Drummond advised that the application was for a small single storey extension to the east elevation of the lodge. The proposal would create a small increase in the kitchen area and provide a better dining area adjacent to the kitchen. In terms of design, the development was considered acceptable and met the requirements of the relevant plan policy.
The main consideration had been the concerns expressed by TECS and these related to the existing accesses to the site. Access was taken off the main road along a drive which served both fishing lodges. There was another application for the site which was under consideration but was not yet before the Committee. That application was for a much larger development and TECS had raised the same access concerns. With regard to the application for the small extension presently before the Committee, however, given the minor nature of the development proposed and the fact that it would merely reconfigure and improve the existing facilities within the lodge, it was not considered that TECS’ request for access improvements was reasonable. That request should be considered more properly in relation to the second application which was yet to come before Committee. The present application, for an extension of just 42 square metres, would not result in additional bedrooms or attendance of any additional guests. It would merely improve kitchen facilities within the existing building, the access for which already had TECS’ approval from previous consents.
Opening the debate, Mrs J Slater and Mr F Parr confirmed that they had no objection to the proposal.
Mrs M Davidson commented, however, that local residents had had issues connected with the entrance/exits to the lodges. The site had been developed incrementally and there had to be a clear message to the applicant that the entrance did need to be improved. The problem was not so much the sight lines (although they were not perfect) but the narrow width of the road at the access point and the difficulty with big vehicles entering to make deliveries. Construction vehicles would create a similar problem. It appeared that there had been several attempts to improve the access points and they too had been incremental and not fully successful. Mrs Davidson accordingly supported TECS’ position. While she indicated that she would not oppose the application presently before the Committee, she considered that when the next application was considered there would have to be a requirement to improve the junction properly.
Mr Kerr asked Mr Evans to clarify why TECS had objected to the proposal. Mr Evans confirmed that TECS had objected on road safety grounds. The location on the B862, between Dores and Inverness, was constrained between walls and fences. It was quite a narrow road and was bendy and undulating in this area, especially immediately to the west of the two access points. There was a double bend which did not look sharp on the map but had merited double bend warning signs in both directions.
Access 1 (the east access) was styled more as an access for a single house. It was narrow and there was hardly any set back for vehicles. Visibility towards Dores was minimal due to hedges and vegetation. This would require to be removed and the visibility splay thereafter preserved. Access 2 (the west access) was better but visibility was still limited. The gates at the two accesses were not set back enough to allow large vehicles to enter. They required to be set 15 metres back to allow for large HGVs.
Mr Evans advised that there was a Traffic Management Plan which accompanied the other application but which contained contradictory statements. It talked about a one way system in at access 1 and out at access 2 but also talked about two way access at both these gates. This needed to be clarified.
Ms Drummond advised that the Traffic Management Plan was part of the original consent and had already been considered, and considered appropriate, by TECS. As far as she was aware, the Plan was being implemented. It related to delivery vehicles rather than guests. Mr Evans responded that this was the Traffic Management Plan he had referred to and which contradicted itself in relation to one-way systems.
Members sought clarification in relation to the Traffic Management Plan and the reason why the two separate applications had not been brought to Committee together.
Ms Drummond explained that there were two existing lodges which both had planning permission, including planning permission for their access arrangements on which TECS had been consulted at the time. A Traffic Management Plan had been required in respect of one of the lodges and this had been reviewed and assessed by TECS when it was submitted. This had occurred two or three years ago. There was therefore existing consent for the current access arrangements and, to the best of Ms Drummond’s knowledge, the existing Traffic Management Plan was being enforced. There had been one known breach of the Plan, involving a lorry. No subsequent further breaches had been reported by the Community Council (who were known to be very vigilant in watching these accesses given past concerns about them).
The proposal now before the Committee was for a very small extension to the existing facility. It would not increase usage or deliveries. It would merely provide better facilities for guests. Accordingly, it had been felt appropriate to bring the application to Committee for determination on the basis that, on its own, it did not bring into question the existing permitted access arrangements. The second application was not ready to come to Committee.
Mrs M Davidson suggested that even this first application would involve construction vehicles. She considered that it should therefore be deferred and determined when the second application was ready so that access improvements would be carried out for both developments.
In accordance with a motion by Mr D Kerr, seconded by Mrs M Davidson, the Committee then agreed to DEFER determination of the application pending clarification of the Traffic Management Plan and for further discussion between TECS, Planning and the applicants on overall long term improvements to the accesses.
Applicant: The Highland Council (12/01957/FUL) (PLS-045-12 (1675kb pdf))
Location: 7 Telford Road, Inverness (Ward 15)
Nature of Development: Amend design to remove cupola
Mrs J Slater advised that she had only just realized that this application involved land in which she believed Cairn Housing Association may have an interest and that, as Chair of Cairn Housing Association she should declare an interest and leave the chamber.
Officers advised that although the application was by The Highland Council, who were thought to have acquired the land from Cairn Housing Association, they could not confirm whether Cairn Housing still had any interest in the land.
In light of the uncertainty as to whether Cairn Housing Association had any interest in the site, Mrs Slater chose to leave the chamber for the duration of this item.
Ms N Drummond presented the report and recommendation that planning permission be granted subject to the conditions set out in the report.
The Committee then agreed to GRANT planning permission subject to the conditions detailed in the report
Applicant: Mr and Mrs Cameron (12/00831/FUL) (PLS-046-12 (718kb pdf))
Location: Land 100m south of Torbeag House, Muirshearlich, Banavie,
Fort William (Ward12)
Nature of Development: Amended house design for permission 09/00305/FUL for the erection of a house, garage and three letting units
Mr A Todd outlined the application and presented the report. He confirmed that the Planning Service had not been advised by the applicant of amendments to the build which the applicant had made as a result of unexpected ground conditions. The principal change had been the introduction of a basement level, but there had been no increase in the height of the building. The ridge height was in fact 440 mm lower than that previously approved. Nevertheless, the deviation from the approved plans was a breach of planning control and the application before members had been submitted to regularise the position.
During discussion, Mr B Clark voiced his concerns at the lack of resources put towards ensuring effective and timeous enforcement so that developments in breach of planning control could be stopped as soon as detected. He had drawn the present case to the Planning Service’s attention when the underbuilding in breach of planning control came to his own attention, but the Service had not had the resources to issue a stop notice. This sent out the wrong message to developers and was something he felt The Highland Council had to address at the earliest opportunity. In the present case, however, he understood that although there had been a breach of planning control, the Authority could not take punitive action in response to the breach and was bound by the legislation to assess the development as built.
Mr Clark asked the Clerk to confirm that this was the case and the Clerk agreed that members required to assess the development as built and could only refuse the application if there were material planning reasons for doing so.
Mr D Fallows agreed with Mr Clark’s comments and expressed concern over the lack of allocated resources which would enable planning enforcement notices to be served.
Mr A Duffy asked whether anything could be done to restrict the use of the basement level to storage and Mr Todd confirmed that this could be conditioned.
The Committee then agreed to GRANT planning permission subject to the conditions detailed in the report and subject to an additional condition restricting use of the basement area to storage.
Applicant: The Highland Council (11/04150/FUL) (PLS-047-12 (397kb pdf))
Location: 1 Harbour Court, Thornbush Road, Inverness IV3 8AE (Ward 15)
Nature of Development: Change of use from offices/laundry to residential flat
The Committee agreed to GRANT planning permission subject to the conditions detailed in the report.
Applicant: The Highland Council (12/00465/FUL) (PLS-048-12 (1) (1468kb pdf)|PLS-048-12 (2) (1298kb pdf)|PLS-048-12 (3) (2060kb pdf)|PLS-048-12 (4) (817kb pdf))
Location: Kingussie High School, Ruthven Road, Kingussie, PH21 1ES
Nature of Development: Demolition of existing temporary classrooms, alterations and extensions and associated landscaping and car parking
Ms N Drummond presented the report and recommendation.
Mr D Fallows noted that the design of the proposed extension was in keeping with the original building and fully supported the proposed development.
Other members shared Mr Fallows’ views and expressed their support for the development.
The Committee then agreed to GRANT planning permission subject to the conditions detailed in the report.
8. Decisions of Appeals to the Scottish Government Directorate for Planning and Environmental Appeals and Notification of call-in by Scottish Ministers (PPA-270-2073 (74kb pdf))
Planning Appeal 11/03303/FUL – Millbank, 1 Mill Lane, Nethybridge, PH25 3EQ
Appeal against the decision by The Highland Council to refuse planning permission.
The Committee NOTED that the appeal had been allowed.
9. Delegated Decisions and Performance
The Committee NOTED the delegated decisions and performance for April and May 2012 (68kb pdf) as detailed in the table.
The meeting ended at 12.05 pm