Jan 25 2012 by Kaiya Marjoribanks, Stirling Observer Wednesday
DEVELOPERS have lodged plans to build on green land in Dunblane which locals have long campaigned to preserve.
Allanwater Developments Ltd have submitted an application to build 19 two and three storey houses, with associated access, car parking and landscaping, on the land north and east of the Braeport Centre.
The company bought the site in 2006 – however, they are likely to face strong opposition from local campaigners who want to preserve the site.
For sale signs were erected on Holmehill in December 2004 after which a public meeting was called. Attended by more than 100 people it sparked the formation of Holmehill Ltd – of which Holmehill Community Buyout is the campaigning name – in February 2005.
While the community buyout group is currently preparing a detailed submission for Stirling Council on the Allanwater Developments application, they already say they are “strongly opposed”.
The group believes Holmehill has the potential to be developed as an “an accessible thriving natural environment, used and cherished by all the community”.
It also says the land is currently designated as open green space within the conservation area in Stirling Local Plan 1999.
The campaigners have always insisted that under a Section 75 legal agreement between Stakis and Stirling Council dating back to 1987, any future owner of the site is bound to accept that the land “shall never be used except as public pedestrian access and public open space”.
They say the construction of any houses on Holmehill would have a detrimental effect on flora and fauna, in particular trees, deer and bats, that the 19 houses proposed would be “extremely near” large mature trees which may pose a threat to the houses, and if the trees were removed would have detrimental impact on the landscape, in particular the backdrop to Dunblane Cathedral.
Access to the site is also a concern for them. They say it would be off the Braeport – “a narrow, ancient road unsuitable and dangerous for construction vehicles or the volume of traffic 19 houses would generate”.
In a supporting statement for the application, submitted to Stirling Council planners, however, planning consultants for the developers said: “Within the Dunblane Conservation Area much is made of the importance of Holme Hill as a significant green space close to the town centre.
“However, the description does not analyse the particular elements which make the difference. Clearly over time the edges of this area have been developed without detrimental effect upon its visual impact.”
They add: “Whilst there is no apparent evidence of protected species of flora or fauna within the site boundary, it would nevertheless be necessary to carry out an initial site scoping exercise to assess an appropriate suite of more detailed surveys to be undertaken. This would in turn inform any mitigation measures should they be required. Given that the applicant owns the remainder of Holme Hill there is thought to be ample facility to accommodate any likely mitigation. it is anticipated that this matter would form the basis of a condition attached to any planning consent.”
The consultants also suggest a “compromise” could be reach on roads requirements and that nearby public transport options could offer “real alternatives” to car travel.
They add that there will be no “skyline development” issues and “minimal visual impact if any at all”.