Holmehill Community Buyout

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First Application for an Office Block

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Plan of proposed office development

Shortly after withdrawing the application for the Braeport Meadow, in August 2012 Allanwater Developments Ltd submitted a new planning application, 12/00544/PPP.   This application represented a change of approach by the developer.   Instead of housing on a greenfield site, the proposal targeted the requirements of the 1987 Section 75 agreement between Stirling District Council and Stakis PLC.   This agreement (binding on subsequent proprietors) ruled out building on the hill, with one exception.   The Council had acknowledged that the old house site would be suitable for offices.

The application was for permission "in principle" and did not contain much detail about the building.   Drawings showed a two-storey building; a total floor area of 2080 sq metres was mentioned.

We strongly opposed this application, as did a very large number of local residents.   We made the following points, among others:

  • Contrary to local policies. Holmehill is zoned as open green space in the Stirling Local Plan 1999. The Conservation Area Appraisal and the emerging will of the Community as expressed in the Local Development Plan acknowledge the importance of Holmehill.
  • Environmental issues. Any building would damage future use and the environmental integrity of Holmehill, which is recorded as having rich and varied wildlife. Mature trees would be damaged by the construction process, and to allow access. This would impact on wildlife and the visual appearance.
  • Access to and within site. Smithy Loan is one-way in recognition of the fact that it is narrow and unsuitable for heavy traffic. There is a Primary School, NHS dentist and sheltered housing on it. It would be unsuitable for construction vehicles and the volume of traffic that offices would generate, particularly as the peak flow would be at school arrival time. Within the site the proposed access route is along a designated core path, used by many residents. It is narrow and bounded by mature trees, unsuitable for construction and emergency vehicles.
  • No need for more offices in Dunblane. Existing developments have vacant properties to let.

In January 2013, the proposed access to the site was changed.   The new proposals abandoned the original idea of accessing the development by driving up the length of Smithy Loan.   Instead, a new traffic arrangement was proposed at the northern end of the Loan. The very top of Smithy Loan would cease to be one-way, and traffic for Holmehill would enter from Perth Road, crossing Smithy Loan from right to left. We regarded these suggestions as whole impractical.

Stirling Council rejected the application in February 2013, giving 12 reasons for rejection.   These can be summarised as

  • The proposed development would adversely affect the open space at Holmehill, which forms an important part of the existing network of formal and informal public and private open spaces in Dunblane.
  • It will not preserve and enhance the architectural and landscape qualities of the Dunblane Conservation Area.
  • It does not accord with the special architectural and visual qualities of the Conservation Area.
  • Suitable access cannot be achieved without damaging the setting and existing listed structures.
  • The application gives insufficient information about the effect on the amenity values of the trees and woodlands, or about the effect on flora and fauna.
  • The proposed development would damage the network of green corridors and open spaces in Dunblane and Bridge of Allan - Stirling - Bannockburn.
  • The proposed office development does not meet the general criteria to be applied to Local Employment Opportunities.

The Council received ninety-seven representations objecting to the proposals, from local residents including seven children, visitors, Dunblane Kirk Session (comprising 83 Elders representing a congregation of 1,200), and the local Dental Practice.   The Community Council met to consider the application, and wrote to object strongly.   One letter of support was received.

Image: Architect's plan of proposed development.   From the planning application to Stirling Council.

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Content: 24th June 2015