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Second Application for an Office Block

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Council Planning

Plan of proposed office development

In February 2016 Allanwater Developments launched their sixth attempt to build.   Like its predecessor in 2012 Office Block One, this application was for an office block and associated parking.   The application was made at the same time as the application for Mansion Two, so the two applications were consulted and decided in parallel.

Like Office Block One, 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 differences from the 2012 version were not great.   There was more car parking (50 spaces instead of 40).   The architecture of the office block was traditional: its small window areas made it unlike a typical modern office block.   The access arrangements were specified in much more detail: it was acknowledged that the track would have to be widened and Listed Structures at the East Lodge would need to be rebuilt.   New traffic flows at the top of Smithy Loan were proposed: these would have been dangerous at peak times when traffic to St Mary's Primary School is at its greatest.

The remarkable thing about this proposal is that it met almost none of the objections that were made to Office Block One.   It was still completely contrary to current planning policies.   It would have covered all of the plateau at the top of the hill.

The proposal has the Council reference number 16/00036/FUL, and its details can be seen on the Council Planning website.   (Enter the reference number to start the search.)

Rejection

The Council rejected the proposal on the 14th of June 2016. The reasons for refusal can be summarised as follows:

  • It "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 would "adversely affect the Council's overall strategy to strengthen and enhance the network of undeveloped green areas and green corridors in Dunblane and Bridge of Allan - Stirling - Bannockburn."
  • "The proposed scale, bulk and massing of the office development and car parking will not integrate visually with the parkland setting of Holmehill and would be visually disruptive to the amenity of the Conservation Area."
  • "A suitable access cannot be achieved without the demolition of the existing wall and gate piers at Holmehill Lodge and the removal of a number of the large, mature trees which contribute to the special architectural, townscape, or historic character of the Conservation Area.   The proposal will not therefore preserve the landscape qualities of the Dunblane Conservation Area."
  • "the applicant has not provided sufficient information to enable the Council to fully consider the impact of the proposed development on the flora and fauna of the woodland area."
  • "the application does not meet the general criteria to be applied to Employment Development in that the site is not located within an allocated employment site or an area safeguarded for such uses, and is not identified as a suitable infill or brownfield site."

Appeal

In September 2016 Allanwater requested a review of the decision.   The review was conducted by the Council's Local Review Body (LRB).   In February 2017 the LRB upheld the original decision to refuse the application, endorsing the reasons, given above, why it was unacceptable. In particular, members of the LRB noted that planning decisions have to reflect the policies currently in force. Click here to see more detail.

Image: Architect's drawing of proposed office block.   From the planning application to Stirling Council.


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Content: 4th March 2017