Victory for campaigners as Scottish Ministers reject housing plan

3.4.17 Photo Jamie Forbes. Campaigners who are celebrating after a controversial housing development on greenbelt land in Torrance was rejected by the Scottish Government.
3.4.17 Photo Jamie Forbes. Campaigners who are celebrating after a controversial housing development on greenbelt land in Torrance was rejected by the Scottish Government.

Campaigners are jubilant 
after Scottish Government ministers rejected an 
appeal by builders for a 
controversial housing development on a greenbelt site.

The news this week marks the end of a two-year battle by hundreds of people against the plan by Hallam Land Management to build 140 homes on grazing fields at Tower Farm on the outskirts of Torrance.

The development would have increased the size of the 
village by a fifth.

East Dunbartonshire councillors voted unanimously against the plan in December 2015 to protect the greenbelt.

The council’s planning board also heard concerns from local people about road safety, draining and flooding, and public transport. The developers then lodged an appeal last year.

On Monday, Niall Campbell of Torrance Community Council said: “The village is ecstatic that the greenbelt has been saved.”

Resident George Kerr, who has been at the forefront of the campaign since the start, added: “Special mention must go to former SNP Councillor Anne McNair who has been a tower of strength and local resident Charles Hay for invaluable support.”

East Dunbartonshire Council leader Gordan Low said: “The Tower Farm proposals was a massive development that would have reshaped Torrance as we know it forever.

“It was not only incompatible with the council’s local development plan but following consultation it was clear the residents in Torrance did not want it. I thank the Scottish Government ministers for following the objective recommendations from the planning reporter and rejecting the appeal.”

MSP Rona Mackay said: “I am very glad ministers of the Scottish Government have put the nail in the coffin of this proposed development of Tower Farm.

“Given most of the land around the village has been bought up by developers, the approval of this application would have set a precedent for others eyeing up this beautiful greenbelt. Well done to Keep Torrance a Village, who fought tooth and nail to preserve the identity of their village.”

Council Planning convener Councillor Billy Hendry said: “I’m absolutely delighted for the people of Torrance who opposed this encroachment onto their local greenbelt.”

After the appeal was lodged by developers, a planning inquiry was held in October last year and residents once again turned out to make their feelings known.

Councillor Hendry added: “This decision has to be welcomed. Not only do we have a council that has rejected these plans, we also have a Scottish Government Reporter who has rejected these plans.

“I am grateful to the Reporter for his time and decision.”

In his findings, Reporter for the Scottish Government Timothy Brian stated: “Overall, I conclude that the appeal proposal, which involves the construction of around 140 houses in the green belt to the west of Torrance, is contrary to the relevant provisions of the development plan, and is not supported by other material considerations.

“I therefore recommend that planning permission in principle is refused for the proposed development at Tower Farm, Torrance.”

Scottish Ministers accepted his overall conclusions.