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Balmaha split on affordable homes plan

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January 30 2017

Balmaha split on affordable homes plan
A bid to erect 20 affordable homes within Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park has been defended by Rural Stirling Housing Association amidst claims the development would hit biodiversity.

A section of the local community is opposed to the development, which they say will adversely affect the West Highland Way through the loss of five acres of woodland, but Rural Stirling insist the homes are necessary to counter depopulation.

Director Tony Teasdale said: “Local house prices are extremely high, there is very little affordable rented housing and local tourist businesses in the area struggle to provide the sort of accommodation that will enable them to retain employees.

“The area has seen a de-population over the last 20 years. The concern from most people that we speak to is about ensuring that Balmaha and the wider Buchanan Community Council area can be a vibrant, inclusive and sustainable community going forward. Sensitive, small scale development of the type we are proposing is a key part of this.”

One objector wrote: “There is a lack of public transport connecting Balmaha to any nearby areas meaning that the only commuting method is by car with the associated carbon footprint and environmental cost, as well as the fact that residents who require affordable housing are in a financial situation such that large fuel costs for commuting are untenable.”

Nevertheless Buchanan Community Council voted overwhelmingly in favour of supporting the proposals at a meeting in January.

Plans drawn up by John Gilbert Architects envisage a cluster of low energy contemporary homes clad in Scottish larch and render, arranged around a series of courtyards.
A photomontage illustrating the likely impact as viewed from Conic Hill
A photomontage illustrating the likely impact as viewed from Conic Hill
Housing will comprise a mix of social rent, local worker and shared equity housing with one five bed house for private sale
Housing will comprise a mix of social rent, local worker and shared equity housing with one five bed house for private sale

The project is said to be vital for the economy of the park
The project is said to be vital for the economy of the park

8 Comments

Dave Arcari
#1 Posted by Dave Arcari on 31 Jan 2017 at 09:26 AM
As a resident of the village I'm surprised by this story - "The local community is bitterly opposed to the development which they say will adversely affect the West Highland Way" is factually incorrect - as demonstrated at the area's community council meeting which saw attendees. It's 30 to 4 in favour of the affordable housing project.
Furthermore, the site is not on the west highland way and will have zero impact - visually or otherwise - on the route.
urbanrealm
#2 Posted by urbanrealm on 31 Jan 2017 at 11:27 AM
Hi Dave - the impact on the West Highland Way was the view of an objector and identified as such. Having spoken with the team I am happy such views are a minority opinion however, so I have updated the piece to reflect this.
George
#3 Posted by George on 31 Jan 2017 at 12:33 PM
'White render'....well that should look good for 6 months then. Real thought gone in to the choice of materials....
Dave Arcari
#4 Posted by Dave Arcari on 31 Jan 2017 at 15:44 PM
Thank you :-)
Matt Bridgestock
#5 Posted by Matt Bridgestock on 2 Feb 2017 at 09:09 AM
Dave - Thanks for your thoughts and support on Monday

George - Thanks for your comments, there has been a lot of thought on materials. You will see from the correspondence on LLTNPA website that there is a lot of debate on the character of Balmaha and how this fits in, white render is seen as one of the key characteristics by members of the community. Obviously the devil is in the detail so we'll be concentrating on this in particular going forward.

Regards
Matt
Islands of sanity
#6 Posted by Islands of sanity on 2 Feb 2017 at 17:48 PM
Looks a good and generous scheme and we do need affordable housing. Loss of 5 acres of woodland does however need a similar amount of offsite planting if one applies the FC policy on the control of removal of woodland. What is happening here?
Eleanora
#7 Posted by Eleanora on 10 Mar 2017 at 11:36 AM
Why not build the affordable homes on the brownfield site already present in Balmaha and avoid cutting down the regenerating woodland.
Matt Bridgestock
#8 Posted by Matt Bridgestock on 16 Mar 2017 at 14:02 PM
Thanks for the comments. The site is allocated in the local plan for housing development, the brownfield site (at the back of Montrose House) is unavailable, allocated for tourism and substantially smaller than the proposed site.
Regarding removal of woodland, the area required is substantially smaller than IoS suggests and we are working with the planners on this matter.
Regards
Matt

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