Holmehill Community Buyout

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Trees above the Cathedral

Reporters comment on the LDP

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The background

Councils in Scotland are required to prepare a development plan for their area. These plans must be updated every five years. Outside the four large Scottish Cities (Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh and Glasgow), the plans are in two parts: a local development plan, and supplementary guidance. The local development plan (LDP) sets out where most new developments will happen and policies that will guide decision making on planning applications.

The preparation of the LDP is a lengthy process. Stirling Council started the process in March 2009, when it published the proposed timescale. The Main Issues Report was published in May 2010, the Draft Plan in October 2011, and the Proposed Plan in October 2012. In December 2012, we encouraged members of the public to comment on the plan, supporting the protection of Holmehill as public green space.

As part of the statutory process, the Council prepared a statement summarising the representations that had been made, and submitted it to Reporters appointed by the Scottish Government. The Reporters started work in July 2013, and published their conclusions in March 2014. You can download the full report from this link. The Council will now prepare (and publish) modifications, and submit the modified plan to Scottish Ministers.

The Reporter's comments

We at Holmehill Community Buyout were keenly awaiting the Reporter's comments on Holmehill. These appear on page 448 of the report. The Reporter says of the various sites that have been proposed for development:

... these suggested sites were considered as part of the LDP site assessment process but were ruled out for reasons that include:

  • loss of this green heart that is important to the character and amenity of Dunblane and that may have considerable historic and cultural significance;
  • the value of the remaining green space would be considerably diminished;
  • ground levels around the hill are steep, so that development would be especially intrusive for townscape and in important views around the cathedral that should be preserved;
  • steep ground levels also reduce the ability to design development to suit the traditional character of the conservation area and the nearby listed buildings; and
  • SS36 would establish a ribbon of development along Perth Road, which the Key Site Requirements for H020 set out deliberately to avoid.

Holme Hill is a central, very attractive and important townscape feature of Dunblane, and of the conservation area in particular, especially in terms of:

  • its relationship with the cathedral surroundings;
  • the edge that it gives Ramoyle, which is clearly an old and historic part of the town;
  • the fact that it separates and distinguishes Ramoyle from the later 'spa town' character of development along Perth Road;
  • the green character of the open space that the hill provides, along with the wide views from it, across and beyond large parts of the town; and
  • the gate entrance, gatehouse, and high stone wall that characterise Perth Road opposite the Hydro hotel grounds and complex.

The hill sides are also very steep, which means that access, parking and development would be difficult and more intrusive to engineer. ... the Holme Hill sites would contribute to the supply of housing and employment land in Dunblane. However, all of the above shows the harm that would result from the loss of this valuable townscape asset that adds much to the high quality amenity, cultural and environmental character of the town. These negative effects more than outweigh the likely benefits and the sites should not be allocated.

Reporter's comments welcomed

Commenting on this outcome, David Prescott, Chair of Holmehill Community Buyout, said

The Holmehill Group welcomes the LDP Reporters' conclusions regarding Holmehill, which clearly states that Holmehill is important as "the greenheart of Dunblane" and should be kept as public open space and not used for infill building, in spite of the pressure for the latter. This is a clear decision, which vindicates the efforts of the group and the local community to protect the site from being built on, and offers protection for at least the life of the plan, which is 20 years.

We now hope to move forward and work with the landowners and the wider community to find a mutually acceptable and sustainable future for Holmehill which will enable everyone in Dunblane, residents and visitors alike, to benefit from this large green space in the heart of the city.

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Content: 24th January 2016