CONTROVERSIAL plans to develop land from Hillfoot in Bearsden to Auchenhowie in Milngavie were REFUSED by the planning board this week — despite the recommendation of officers that the application be granted
Bearsden Academy's assembly hall was packed to capacity for Tuesday's public hearing, at which agents for applicants Cala Management and their partners Stewart Milne Homes gave a presentation for the development — known as the Lower Kilmardinny project — and objectors stated their case against.
The outline application sought 550 new homes, a retail development, office accommodation, sports facilities, rail halt with park and ride facilities, and associated walkways and landscaping.
Earlier in the afternoon councillors made a site visit to the stretch of land to familiarise themselves with the area (above).
By far the most controversial aspects of the development were the density of the housing, the impact on the already-congested roads and the fact that planners were set to allow the demolition of the existing council-run Allander Sports Centre — 18 months ahead of a new sports complex being built.
Other issues included the loss of open aspects, dearth of affordable housing — a possible 10 per cent being proposed while the council's target in new developments is 40 per cent — and the fact that Kilmardinny is a recognised flood plain.
Speaking against the development were Keith Small, chairman of Bearsden North Community Council, John Cullen of Mains Residents' Association and Norman Peacock of Milngavie Community Council.
Agents for the developers claimed their eight-point plan fitted in with the council's Structure Plan, including the rail halt, park and ride facilities, revamp of West of Scotland Rugby Football Club grounds and measures to deal with the flood plain.
Both officials and developers stressed that if granted, the application would involve a section 75 legal agreement which would address many of the concerns of the objectors.
When it came to the vote, 15 councillors voted for refusal and five for grant.
Tory group leader Billy Hendry moved for refusal of the application, seconded by Councillor Bill Binks.
Councillors Amanda Stewart and Jim Gibbons were not permitted a vote, having objected to the proposals before their election in May.
LibDems and SNP councillors were unanimously against the proposal, while the Tory group and Labour group were split.
Council leader Rhondda Geekie voted for the proposal, but her colleague Provost Alex Hannah voted against, while Tory Anne Jarvis also voted to grant.Councillor Geekie argued that approving the bid gave the council control over what happened with the application, but if the developers were successful with an appeal the community could lose out on conditions which the council would attach to the grant.
Councillor Geekie was seconded by Councillor Una Walker and, as well as Anne Jarvis, was joined in the vote to grant permission by Labour councillors Stewart MacDonald and Michael O'Donnell.
Councillor Vaughan Moody said the application should not be granted because of a fear of what might happen at an appeal.
In moving for refusal Councillor Hendry said it was the democratic thing to do for the people of Bearsden and Milngavie.
Cala's spokesman said after the verdict: "We are awaiting the reasons for refusal of our proposal. Once we receive them we will give consideration to our next course of action. This may well include appealing the decision."
Objectors are not opposed to the development of Kilmardinny in principle and speaking to the Herald after the decision said, in thanking the councillors who listened to their plea for refusal, that the result gave residents the opportunity to be consulted in future plans and the chance for the council to approve a development more acceptable to the community.