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Report recommending refusal of West Riverside planning application published

The report of recommendation on the planning application for West Riverside and Woodbank House, Balloch, has been published today (Thursday 5th September). 

The report, by the Director of Rural Development and Planning at Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park Authority, outlines a recommendation to the National Park Board that the application for Planning Permission in Principle is refused.

The report has been published following a detailed assessment, and consideration, against key documents, policies and statutory requirements. It takes account of consultation responses that identify relevant planning considerations and responses from local and national Government bodies. This in line with the statutory process for major planning applications. 

Assessing a planning application of this scale and complexity, that has attracted significant public interest, takes a huge amount of time and very careful consideration. The report is comprehensive in addressing all matters relating to the application and as a result runs to more than 100 pages.

Overall the report concludes that, in summary:

  • Two key elements of the application – proposals in Drumkinnon Wood and at the Pierhead area – would result in significant unacceptable impacts on the landscape, visual amenity, and trees and woodland. As a result, the proposed development would adversely affect the area’s built heritage and the enjoyment of the Pierhead area by both visitors and locals.
  • There are no socio-economic reasons, or public benefits that would outweigh these reasons. It is also not considered that the use of planning conditions could reasonably control or mitigate these impacts.

The report states that:

  • The application does not comply with the Local Development Plan for the National Park, it is contrary to the National Park’s aims and presents a conflict between the first National Park aim (‘to conserve and enhance the natural and cultural heritage of the area’) and the fourth National Park aim (‘to promote the sustainable economic and social development of the area’s communities’), meaning the Authority must give greater weight to the first aim (this is known as ‘the Sandford Principle’).

The National Park Authority’s Board will consider the report at a Special Meeting, held in public, on Tuesday 24th September 2019, to make a decision on whether to approve or refuse the application.

Given the level of public interest in this application, the National Park Authority has chosen to publish the report and recommendation more than two full weeks ahead of the meeting, considerably earlier than would normally be the case.

Timings for the Pre-determination Hearing and Site Visit relating to the application have also now been published on our website.  Anyone, or any organisation, who submitted formal comments on the application before this report was published, will be notified and given details on how they can request to speak at the Pre-determination Hearing. Only those whose formal comments have been received before publication of the report will be eligible to request to speak at the Pre-determination Hearing.

More details about the Site Visit, Pre-determination Hearing and Special Board Meeting are set out in the Framework Document.

Considering the stage which the application is at in the determination process it would be inappropriate for any member of staff or member of the National Park Authority Board to comment any further on it ahead of the public Site Visit, Pre-determination Hearing and Special Board Meeting on 23rd and 24th September.

  • The full report is split into sections setting out:
    • the factual, background information on the application (Section 4),
    • a summary of the comments and consultation responses received (Section 5),
    • an outline of the policy and legal framework on which the application must be assessed (Section 6),
    • summary of supporting information (Section 7),
    • a detailed planning assessment (Section 8),
    • the conclusions (Section 9) which draws together the issues identified in the assessment.
  • We understand that processes that are bound in legislation (like planning is) sometimes use specialist language that isn’t always that easy to understand. So, whilst our report and recommendation to the Board will still have to contain specialist assessment and refer to planning legislation, every effort has been made to make the paper as easy to understand as possible.
  • Staff and Board members of the National Park Authority will not be able to comment on the merits of the application ahead of the Pre-determination Hearing and Meeting taking place.
  • Given the significant public interest in the application, and the capacity of the room at our Balloch headquarters that we would normally use for this type of meeting, we have opted to hold the meeting in a bigger venue. We have hired the largest, locally available venue to hold as many people as is practically possible for the Pre-determination Hearing and Meeting. Alexandria Parish Church can hold more than 200 people.
  • We have been testing audio webcasting equipment so that we can record and broadcast the Pre-determination Hearing and Board meeting for those who are interested in the application but who cannot make it along on the day. We are using a system used by other Local Authorities and are drawing on their expertise to help us use this technology at the Hearing and Meeting on Tuesday 24th.  A link to the feed for that audio webcast will be available on the day on our website.
  • Please note that no photography or recording of any type will be permitted at either the Site Visit, Pre-determination Hearing or Meeting.
  • The application is available to view on our e-planning portal using reference 2018/0133/PPP. Background documents relating to the application are also available.


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