Agenda and minutes

Planning, Protective Services and Licensing Committee - Monday, 10 October 2011 11:00 am

Venue: Pillar Hall, Victoria Halls, Helensburgh

Contact: Fiona McCallum Tel. No. 01546 604406 

No. Item




Apologies for absence were intimated from :-


Councillor Robin Currie

Councillor Alister McAliser     

Councillor Alex McNaughton

Marina Curran-Colthard – Local Biodiversity Officer




Councillor Vivien Dance declared a financial interest in relation to Planning Application Reference (11/00887/PP) on the basis that she was the Co Director of a Company which provides consultancy services to the applicant.  She left the room during discussion of the item and accordingly took no part in the decision making process.


Councillor David Kinniburgh declared a non-financial interest in relation to Planning Application Reference (11/00887/PP) on the basis that he had previously indicated his support for the application.  He left the room during discussion of the item and accordingly took no part in the decision making process.

It was also noted that neither Councillor Dance or Councillor Kinniburgh had attended the site visit which had taken place prior to the meeting.




Report by Head of Planning and Regulatory Services

Additional documents:


The Chair welcomed everyone to the meeting and general introductions were made. 


Charles Reppke, Head of Governance and Law outlined the hearing procedure that would follow and the Chair invited anyone who wished to speak at the meeting to identify themselves.


Planning Officer


Howard Young, Area Team Leader, gave a brief outline of the application which was for the erection of three dwellinghouses and provided a short history of the application informing that this site had been the subject of three previous refusals of planning permission for residential development. The key material reasons for refusal of those first two applications had been the presence of trees on the application site. The site was also subsequently designated an Open Space Protection Area (OSPA). Mr Young provided a PowerPoint presentation showing the application site in the wider context of the Helensburgh settlement pattern and various aspects were shown of the site location together with a block plan of the proposed development.  The development would not enhance or contribute to the amenity of the area.  Mr Young felt that the mitigation being offered was insufficient to overcome the policy restrictions and that he would recommend refusal of the application based on development plan policy and the material considerations already stated.


Representatives for Applicant


Steven Black – Associate Director -Jones Lang LaSalle


Mr Black introduced himself and added that he is a Chartered Town Planner and Associate Director with the firm Jones Lang LaSalle.  He had also served as a Local Authority Planning Officer with Fife Council and Edinburgh Council over a period of 15 years before moving into private practice in 2007 and was familiar with the nature of the type of application in front of us today.


 Mr Black said that he would like to explain his understanding of the Case and those material considerations which should be most relevant to members in reaching their determination.


Mr Black noted that the applicant was also represented by Mr Lawrence Hill, the project architect who would give a brief commentary on the design of the proposed development and Mr Tony Dance who would give a brief explanation of the applicant’s development interests and potential planning gain.


He had examined the Committee Report referred to and in particular the reasons behind the recommendation for refusal. This balance between the retention of open space and the growth of a community was one which faces Committees on a regular basis.


The designation of the site as open space was not in dispute, nor was the previous refusals nor the raft of policies that the Council have at their disposal to protect such space from development should they see fit.

Acknowledging this policy context in order to reach a determination on this specific proposal it was Mr Black’s view that members would require firstly to consider what amenity this site currently has and secondly whether its use for the development of three dwelling houses would have such a detrimental impact on the locality such that it should be refused. 

From Mr Black’s familiarity with the site he noted that the site was naturally regenerating with weeds and brambles and there was no evidence of the land being used for any recreational purpose and indeed the Report from the council’s Professional Officers did not seek to argue any recreational purpose.


It was Mr Black’s view that the lands amenity value was therefore limited to its appearance and its function as a gap between housing again as identified in the Committee Report. 


Mr Black added that they would not seek to argue that open space has no value, but  would wish Members to consider the current contribution of the space against that which might be achieved through development.

Helensburgh as with all towns had historically expanded into its rural hinterland. The surrounding greenbelt and the restrictions upon further greenbelt release, put increased importance on using available land assets wisely. 

The detached dwellings and well maintained generous gardens had come to form an essential part of Helensburgh’s established character. The local plan map might suggest that the green space is limited and that gardens of dwellings make no contribution to the green character of the settlement. The satellite photo perhaps gives an idea of the contribution that appropriate residential development can make.

There appeared to be little to no recognition of the fact that appropriate development could add amenity value and indeed Mr Black said he would argue that well designed residential development was very capable of improving amenity. 


There was reference to the applicant’s proposed planting to the rear of the development providing only 17% of the site but is notable from the applicant’s indicative layout that only 24 % was taken up by the proposed foot print of houses.   There was also reference to the majority of this planting being to the rear of the site which was true but equally small pockets of carefully maintained planting to the front of the site would be capable of contributing to the amenity value. 


This was evident in the history and development of Helensburgh itself. Its character and its visual amenity were largely defined by the character of the streets and homes that had been developed through the years. 

Undoubtedly the development of 3 houses in this  location would take up an area of previously undeveloped land but it was Mr Black’s view that the nature of the development being proposed when considered against the very limited amenity provided by the currently vacant site would not result in any significant loss of amenity and indeed to the contrary would provide a well-considered development which was fully capable of contributing to the outstanding character of streets and spaces within Helensburgh. 

Even setting aside the very real practical prospects of losing a valued and long established Helensburgh building company with all of the associated economic consequences, and the potential of Planning Gain, which Mr Dance would explain, it was in Mr Black’s professional opinion that in Planning terms alone the proposed development was  ...  view the full minutes text for item 3.