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Plan to create affordable homes in Balmaha gets the go ahead

A proposal to create 20 new affordable homes in the village of Balmaha on the banks of Loch Lomond has been approved.

The planning application, from Rural Stirling Housing Association, which aims to address the demand for more affordable housing options in the area, was granted approval following a public hearing by the Planning and Access Committee of Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park Authority.

The development will be made up of 12 houses and eight flats and will include a combination of homes for rent, shared equity ownership and properties specifically to be rented to local workers. There will also be two plots available for self-build homes on the site.

The need for more affordable homes in the popular visitor destination of Balmaha was identified through consultation events with the community in 2013 and the development site has been allocated for housing through the Local Development Plan which was adopted in 2017.

Petra Biberbach Chair of the Planning & Access Committee at Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park Authority said: “Housing is a key issue in the National Park, which is one of the most expensive places in Scotland to buy a home. This combined with the ageing population of the area, means it is increasingly difficult for younger, working age people and families to live in the Park. That has a knock on effect for the sustainability of communities.

“The need for more affordable housing has been identified by the community in and around Balmaha through consultation on the Local Development Plan and is something the Park and our partners aim to address through the National Park Partnership Plan over the next five years.

“Whilst some trees in the area will have to be removed to allow the development to go ahead, the trees earmarked for removal have been identified as young and not considered ancient woodland. The mature oak trees which are the most valuable feature of the woodland will remain and further planting of native species at the site is planned.

“The National Park is a beautiful and important landscape, but it also supports living working communities that need well-considered developments like this to be able to grow sustainably and encourage younger, working age people to live and work in the area.

“We recognise that there have been strong views both for and against this proposal. This was a well-considered application and we are confident that the balance has been struck between creating much needed new homes in a way that is sensitive to the special qualities of the environment.

“This development is a great example of the vision set out in our National Park Partnership Plan being brought to life.”

The National Park Partnership Plan 2018-23 sets out 13 key outcomes that the Park Authority and its partners aim to address over the next five years.

This includes Outcome 12: Sustainable Population: “Population decline is being addressed by attracting and retaining more skilled working age and young people within the National Park and a better range of housing options.”

Read more on the National Park Partnership Plan here.

In addition to native species of trees being planted on the site, a further 1.5 hectares of native trees will be planted in another area of the National Park as a compensatory measure for the trees that will be removed.

Notes to Editors

Stuart Mearns, Director of Rural Development and Planning at Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park is available for interview.

The planning report considered by the Board at the hearing can be viewed here

The planning application (ref:2016/0399/DET) is available to view here

You can read more on the Local Development Plan here

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